For years I wanted to learn to play the drums, so it was quite a thrill when my husband bought me a set two years ago for my birthday. Since then, I’ve discovered that banging out a favorite tune, such as the Beatles’ “You Can’t Do That,” improves my mood in a matter of minutes.
San Antonio, Texas
I head to the gym, put on my gloves, and pound on the punching bag. As I strike it, I think about what’s bothering me and come up with a solution. The bag weighs 175 pounds, so hitting it requires a great deal of strength and exertion. It feels great to work out my problems and my body at the same time.
When I get down in the dumps, I set a timer for 20 minutes and vent—to a friend, to the dashboard of the car, even to the seagulls at the beach. That’s all it takes: Once the timer goes off, I’ve figured out why I am feeling low and have regained control of my emotions.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
About 10 years ago, I was having a typically awful day: I had overslept, got caught in traffic, made mistakes at work. In the midst of it all, a friend sent me an e-mail calling for donations for autism research. I logged on to her website, contributed, and immediately felt better. Now I give to charity whenever I get grumpy. Each donation reminds me of what really matters.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
My 40s were coming to an end, and I was dreading it. Then my brother-in-law suggested I watch a Saturday Night Live skit starring Molly Shannon as Sally O’Malley, a 50-year-old trying out for the Radio City Rockettes. It made me laugh so hard and helped me get over my anxieties. Now whenever I’m feeling down, I view it, have a belly laugh, and move on. As Sally said: “Book ’em, Danno! I’m 5-0!”
Songs sung by the White Stripes’ lead singer, Jack White, pull me out of a dark cloud. His tunes are upbeat, jazzy, and funky. The track “We’re Going to Be Friends” makes me feel happy and hopeful, while “Seven Nation Army” motivates me to get up and move. “Why Can’t You Be Nicer to Me?” reminds me that I’m not the only person having a tough time. Listening to it, I feel less alone.
For me, getting out of a funk is simple. I sit on my porch and watch birds flutter around my feeders. In the spring and summer, I see fast-moving hummingbirds, red-plumed cardinals, and yellow finches, who gravitate to our cornflowers. I appreciate just how lucky I am to be able to spend my time in such a relaxing way.
Wesley Chapel, North Carolina