Saleen Says: What makes you happy?

Hello all!

I’ve been away for a while dealing with school, personal matters, and the like. I figured it was time for an update.

It is now February and I’ve got tons of things going on. I’m working on four stories right now between classes and work. One is a news release for the division of marketing and communications, one is a travel writing piece for the study abroad class I took last summer, one is a writeup on a signature lecture I’ll attend in a few weeks, and the last one is a feature on an award recipient here at UGA.

I’m also trying to keep up with the readings and assignments for my classes. I’ve been doing okay minus a few hiccups this week. I’m feeling good today and I’ve tackled some things that have been giving me some serious anxiety.

I didn’t invite you all here to read about that though. Today, I want to focus on the good, and how I’ve coped with all of this. One word: happiness.

Recently, I woke up in the morning in the most depressing mood. I didn’t feel like doing anything productive, then I received a text message from the person who always makes me smile: my mom.

She told me to have a wonderful day. My bad mood didn’t magically go away, but hearing from her did make me smile, and I remembered what my goals are. I want to succeed here, start my career, and make my way closer to the people and places that make me the happiest: home, sweet home, and my family and friends.

With 500 miles between us, my mom was able to help me get back on track. I thought about how much she loves me, and the memories we share. No matter how much time passes, I have those to hold onto, as well as the memories we’ll make once I’m done with my studies and start my career.

That day, I wondered “How can I fight this sadness that creeps up and threatens to tear down everything I’ve worked so hard for?” I think part of that is acknowledging the things that make me happy, whether that’s people, memories, or activities, and using them as motivation.

Today, I’m going to list the things that make me happy. This way, I’ll always have something to refer to when I’m down, and I can use them as motivation to keep pushing forward.

Here we go!

  1. Writing: Obviously, I love writing. It’s what I was born to do, and it means so much to be able to do that for the rest of my life. It also means a lot to hear that I’ve helped people. This blog has allowed me to do that. I owe it, and my readers, more than I’ve given over the past few months.
  2. Family: I’m very close to my mom, dad, sisters, and my grandparents. They’re the reason I want so badly to get closer to home. I want to be successful, absolutely. I also want to be able to celebrate that with the people I love most.
  3. Friends: My friends are amazing. They are encouraging, funny, and they accept me and all my weirdness, no questions asked. I can’t wait to be closer to them someday, and just have more time to travel and enjoy one another. I am also glad that our friendships have survived my physical absence. Those are real friends for you.
  4. Dogs: Seriously…ever since my internship last summer, I have been obsessed with dogs. I actually need to go back to the shelter soon to play with some. It’s beneficial for both myself and the dogs because they get company and attention and I get to mellow out and just love on them.
  5. Books: I have an entire list of books I want to buy soon, specifically short stories. I don’t read often, but the last time I did, it made me so happy to read about characters I saw myself in. It’s fun and it’s a learning experience.
  6. Movies and TV: Movies, TV, and books provide me with a form of escapism that I need every once in a while. It’s the chance to take a break from daily life and watch someone else’s unfold for an hour or two.
  7. Food: I love eating and I love trying new restaurants. Before I leave Athens, I need to check out the restaurants that have been in my bookmarks since I first came here. Time to step my game up!
  8. Busch Gardens: Busch Gardens is my happy place. I could go there every day and not get tired of it. I love going during the summer, I love Howl-O-Scream, and I love Christmas Town. I look forward to being able to go more often if I find a job close to home.
  9. Live-tweeting: I am addicted to live-tweeting. It’s fun, I get to meet new people, and it allows me to experience what I’m watching in ways that I probably wouldn’t be able to if I don’t connect with people online from all walks of life.
  10. Singing: Music has always been an integral part of who I am. I listen to it, I sing it, I quote it, and I obsess over the music I hear in films and on TV. I love karaoke and I haven’t been in forever. Maybe over spring break I’ll plan something with my friends!

So there’s my list. These things are all important for three reasons.

First, we can use the things that make us happy as motivation. For example, if I’m having trouble reading, I tell myself “If you finish this chapter, you can watch Jane the Virgin.” The show becomes a reward for knocking out my homework. I’ve done something productive and now I get to have fun.

The things on these lists can also serve as warning signs and show us that we may or may not be battling depression without realizing it. I’ve been very open about my struggles with depression and anxiety, so it’s no surprise that while making this list, I realized there are things I don’t do anymore, like go to karaoke, or see movies whenever they come out.

Sometimes it’s because I am too busy, and other times it’s because I can’t bring myself to get out of bed. Some signs of depression include changes in mood and no longer enjoying the things you used to do. It’s easy to experience these changes without realizing it. In a way, these lists can help us to see change within ourselves and our behavior, thus giving us warnings about a larger issue we may be battling, like depression.

The absence of these things in my life can also be attributed to normal personality changes. Two years ago, I probably would’ve listed “Having drinks with friends,” but the version of me that I am today doesn’t really enjoy that anymore.

Lastly, this list can help us to find balance among our work, school, and social lives. Sometimes I find it difficult to know when to stop working. I fear that I’ll start slacking and, thus causing me to work myself to exhaustion. A few weeks ago I actually stayed in the house for four days straight doing homework and reading. I didn’t realize it until it was time to go back to school that Tuesday. I didn’t really enjoy my break at all because I didn’t manage my time wisely and stretched myself too thin.

Then there’s the other side of it–not doing enough work and slacking too much. This is a work in progress.

During those times where I work myself to exhaustion, I’ll have this list to refer to. If I need a break, I’ll scan the list, find something I feel like doing (i.e. call my mom, see a movie, go play with some dogs), and relax before starting my work again.

The important thing is that I feel good, I come back to whatever task I’m tackling, and I don’t quit.

As always, I thank you for reading!

Now, I want to know, how do you cope with stress or anxiety, and what makes you happy?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I read my Bible and talk to God, He is usually able to soothe my nerves 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Saleen Martin says:

      Hi! That’s awesome! I found myself doing that today when I was really overwhelmed with a project. It really does help. Something about handing it over to him and letting him guide you really makes you feel better.

      I hope you’re doing well and I appreciate you reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure, I love the tips you suggested. I also use them

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Saleen Martin says:

        Thank you! If you have any more tips, please feel free to share! I’m always looking for new ways to alleviate my anxiety when it gets really bad.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I understand. I will 😃

        Liked by 1 person

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