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When It Feels Like Nothing is Going Right

I don't know about you, but I've personally had a really difficult Spring. My mom was hospitalized at the end of February, and by March she had passed away. She had terminal cancer and while it was somewhat expected, there's just nothing that can prepare you for it.

I was feeling really down this past week, and I decided to invest some time in a strategy that works really well for me and lots of my clients: mental time travel.


I just sensed eyerolls from all over the country as you all read "time travel." 

Stick with me. It sounds stupid. I know, and in fact, that's how I initially felt when I read about this practice in an evidence-based journal. You can read more here if you're into science.

But turns out, it works.

Let me share how it works:

1) Take 10 minutes to completely set aside all the awful junk going down at home and work. All the overwhelmed and overworked feelings.

2) Sit down with a notebook or open a note on your phone.

3) Write down a list of positive memories. Some people call them "blessings". Some people call them "things I'm thankful for." Integrate the terminology with your belief system. This is an emotional and spiritual care practice, but not a religious one unless you want it to be. 

For example, one of the things on my list is "my baby boy." 

4) Now write a few specific memories along with how those memories make you feel, the joy you feel, etc.  

One of the memories I have written is "Last night he rode the broom around saying "Mommy, I'm a witch!" and I felt so much joy. (See picture.)

5) As you do that, smile. Receive those gifts of gratefulness into your heart. 

6) Pick another memory.

7) Repeat.

It's so simple, but so impactful. 

Studies show that if you spend 10 minutes twice a day engaging in mental time travel, you can actually increase happiness!

That's pretty cheap treatment, eh?

Now of course it isn't a cure all, but if there's something you can do for free to feel happier, what a deal!

I'd love to hear how you use this strategy. 

-Dr. Jen Johnson

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