Be Like Mary J.: No More Drama
While voicing how you feel (especially when it’s not in line with what you're hearing around you) might seem like the catalyst for a confrontation, it’s actually the secret to making love, not war. “When you deny your feelings, you start to make up stories in your mind that drive you — and everyone else — totally nuts,” says Bernstein. “These ‘stories’ can create chaos in your relationships and in your life.” The stay-calm trick: State the reasons for your inner turmoil directly to the source or keep them to yourself, but not locked up inside — as in, share them with your reflection in a mirror. “With love and kindness, say out loud to yourself or others exactly how you feel,” says Bernstein. Whatever happens next is going to be way healthier for you than keeping negative feelings pent up.
Make Your Bed
Or stick to any other a.m. habit that you can handle shortly after you wake up or pre-coffee, on a regular basis. “Being happy throughout the day begins with how you start the day,” says Bernstein. “Create morning rituals that ground you in a peaceful place and set you up to win.” Bernstein suggests to most of her Spirit Junkie acolytes that they take a few minutes every day to focus their energy and choose a loving perspective. Which basically means all you have to do is write down a feel-good mantra Mad Libs on a sticky note and put it on your computer or fridge — today I will [insert totally impressive verb that makes you feel good here], or I am [insert rockstar-like status word here]). Need a little help to pinpoint your positive affirmation? Download the Spirit Junkie Alarm Clock app (available on November 8). “When your alarm goes off in the morning, a positive affirmation will pop up on the screen and you can use it as a tool to kick off your day in a powerful way,” explains Bernstein.
Photographed by Erin Yamagata
While spending much of your time and energy taking care of others is, of course, a lovely thing, it can backfire and make you feel emotionally drained if you go overboard. “When it becomes too much of your focus, it can make you lose track of your own needs,” says Bernstein. Her Rx? Practice random acts of self-kindness — take a few moments to stretch your body, make yourself a nice meal, or get your nails done — simple things to show yourself some love.
Lend A Hand
On the flip side of the feel-good spectrum, aiding those in need — physically or emotionally — when you are, too, can be an instant mood-booster. Some of Bernstein’s favorite words of wisdom come from Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi: When you’re feeling helpless, help someone. “Whenever I feel helpless, stuck, or vulnerable, I try to help someone else,” Bernstein says. “Helping others takes the focus off yourself and immediately shifts you from a ‘me’ mentality to a ‘we’ mentality.” The emotional result: you get out of your own way by being in service of others.
LOL A Lot
All worked up over something with your boss — or maybe your honey? Although sometimes it's easier said than done, do your best to laugh it off. “Without even realizing it, we can get caught up in the chaos of life, the negativity on the news, or the self-inflicted fear that can take over our minds,” says Bernstein, who calls this the fear spiral. “By laughing at our fear, we can detach from it and choose to see a better perspective,” she says. “If something silly is bothering you, this simple yet secretly powerful tool can help center you back into your happy reality — let laughter melt away the petty fears that consume you.”
Practice The Five-Second Rule
“One of the easiest ways to shift your mood is to breathe,” says Bernstein, who says even she needs to utilize this tension-relieving technique on the reg. Breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds. “Whenever you notice tension in your body or a feeling of negativity, do this several times and you will immediately feel centered and release the negative energy that holds you back,” she says.
Photographed by Jenna Marie Wakani