25 Ways to Choose Joy When You’re Struggling

25 Ways toChoose Joy When You're Struggling

A couple weeks ago I shared 10 ways to proactively choose joy each morning, but in all honesty, choosing joy in recent days has been more of a white-knuckle experience.

Even though I know Sean wants to help, his mobility is still very limited, so I’m still doing most things by myself. On top of that, I think I’m probably still dealing with some degree of postpartum depression, which leaves me exhausted and short-tempered.

Like a big truck heading down a mountain, I can feel the pressure and speed building inside, and no matter how hard I tried to brake at the top of my hill at the start of each day, my brakes are giving out before too long. Reactively choosing joy on these days is a lot like using the emergency ramps carved into the side of the mountain for runaway trucks.

And sometimes the hardest part when we find ourselves racing downhill is convincing ourselves to use them.

For example, at 5:22pm the other night, I was exhausted and grumpy, but I finally pulled myself off of the couch to try to break out of my funk. I turned the music up loud, pasted a smile on my face, rolled up my sleeves and tackled the dishes and dinner preparation.

And you know what? It worked! Sometimes “fake it until you make it” is the best approach! Here are 25 strategies for choosing joy when things aren’t going well:

1. Stop to hug the child whose having a hard time or pushing your buttons.

2. Cry it out. (I don’t think you need to hide your tears. Ma Ingalls didn’t, and I think it’s good for my girls to see that I experience the same emotions they do!)

3. Turn up the music and have a dance party.

4. Send everybody to quiet time.

5. Open the windows.

25 Ways toChoose Joy When You're Struggling

6. Even better, head outside for a few minutes of fresh air. (Sunshine is good, but even standing on the porch on a chilly, rainy day helps!)

7. Or take a walk.

8. Call or text someone to tell them you’re struggling. (Sometimes just saying it out loud helps me turn things around.)

9. Pop in a movie for the kids.

10. Go for a drive with the windows down.

11. Ask for what you need. (Help, a hug, a chocolate bar…)

12. Eat said chocolate.

13. Take time to knock out the easy things on your list.

14. Do a 15-minute cleaning blitz.

25 Ways toChoose Joy When You're Struggling

15. Make a cup of coffee or tea and actually drink it while it’s hot.

16. Curl up with your kids and a read aloud.

17. Declare independent reading time and sit down and read a book for yourself as well.

18. Forget the menu plan and have crackers and cheese or smoothies and popcorn instead.

19. Take a shower.

20. Put your pajamas on early.

21. Or get dressed and put on makeup.

22. Do something creative. (Paint, color, cook, bake, play the piano, etc.)

23. Take 30 minutes to exercise hard.

24. Yell into a pillow.

25. Apologize for your short temper.

How do you choose joy when you find yourself in a funk?

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.
  • Guest

    Mandi, have you had your blood iron level check? Your tiredness sound a lot like mine. And then they told me I was anaemic and put me on Iron supplement and you will not believe the difference it made in 2 weeks. I always describe it as going from black and white to color. (Maybe it should be HD in this day and age!) Hope your hubby gets better soon.

  • Elizabeth Lund

    You have it! Joy or happiness is a skill. I hope you can continue to choose joy even when you white-knuckle it! Take care of yourself!

  • Lynzy B.

    I don’t usually comment on the blogs I follow, but this today just spoke right to me and was so helpful. I’m not a stay at home mom, I work full time and my husband is currently unemployed. But this post was real, down to earth, honest and practical. Real, simple ways to break out of slump and attempt Joy. Thank you.

  • libbywilko

    I love a shower or going into my room for just a little while for some no face to face time either a quick nap or just to read by myself gives me a boost. Hope Sean improves a bit each day. Maybe you can have a friend or family member come to take over some of the load once a week? Take the girls out ? So you can nap while the baby naps… Just to refuel your tank? Hugs. Love your post.

  • Thrifty Frugal Mom

    So true that sometimes you just have to CHOOSE joy, hard as it is. And I’m always amazed at how when I choose to be happy, it affect the rest of the families moods too.

    This is an excellent list and I think all of my ways are already mentioned here. My favorite ways are to turn on some good worshipful music, eat a Lindt truffle or have some iced coffee, bake something (baking energizes me) or send everyone to have some quiet time which obviously gives me some too and allows me to recharge a bit.

    Hope you get some breathing space soon. Sounds like things are pretty tough right now!

  • Wendy

    Thank you for sharing these. Happiness can be a choice, sometimes a hard to achieve one. I like the “fake it till you make it” as a way to just get started moving in the direction of happiness. This was just what I needed today!

  • Lori Asperschlager

    Thanks for sharing! I had a baby in February and while I feel we’re getting out of that really hard newborn stage it can still be a struggle sometimes.

  • nicki

    i love this. I have three under three and it is like i never got out of the ppd stage. it is nice to see that other people feel the same way.