Don't let a dark day dampen your mood


Use these tips to stay sunny even when it seems those rain clouds will never move on.

It's Friday morning, and you're tired. All week, your co-worker Sarah's been driving you crazy. Plus, Jane called in sick—for the third day in a row—and you're picking up the slack. Your hand is throbbing where Mrs. Miller's poodle bit it yesterday. And if that wasn't enough, your boyfriend cancelled for tonight.

You're stressed. You're tense. You can't wait for the weekend! And the worst part is that a week filled with stress and frustration overshadows your enthusiasm for your job. You know it's not your clients' fault, but still, you can hardly muster enough energy to greet the next pet owner with a smile.

Everyone goes through dark days. You know, the ones where you feel like you're walking beneath a rain-soaked sky, weaving among frustration, anger, anxiety, and helplessness. So what can you do? Is there a magic potion that makes the sun shine? A reset button that turns a gray world more hospitable? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Yet you can cultivate the strength and internal balance to find the light in the midst of any storm.

Christiane Holbrook

Think of an old, sturdy tree. It's flexible, yet strong. Its branches are balanced, its bark thick, and its leaves shiny and pliable. What makes the tree that way? The roots. And for the roots to grow deep and wide so they anchor the tree, the tree needs the right amount of water, nutrients, soil, and sun. It will then be able to withstand wind, rain, and even floods.

So what conditions would allow you to grow strong yet tolerant, calm yet powerful, centered yet responsive? There are four essential ingredients to a healthy, balanced life: You need to nurture your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul. Unlike the tree, though, which depends on Mother Nature, you can actively seek out these conditioning ingredients. Consider these scenarios to see how tending to your roots can brighten your day.

As you can see, these aren't overnight solutions. You need to practice this preventive self-care on a regular basis. If you do your homework, though, the final exam—the moment when you feel like exploding—is a piece of cake.

If you tend to these four areas of your life regularly—your body, mind, heart, and soul—you'll grow strong, balanced, and powerful. You'll be able to withstand enormous stress and challenges, so you can be there for your patients and their owners. And when you do feel challenged, you'll know how to tend to your roots and cultivate the extra boost of energy you need when the rain starts.


Like many people, you likely snuggle into your comfort zone. You go to work every day, do the same set of tasks, talk about the same topics, and let life happen to you. At night, you come home, make a quick dinner, watch TV or read a book, and go to bed.

Keep your composure when the levee is ready to break

WHAT'S HAPPENING: You aren't learning or challenging yourself. Your life lacks adventure. This may seem fine, even fulfilling, at first, but eventually, you start to become bored, irritated, and dissatisfied.

WHAT TO DO: Take care of your mind. Think about what interests you. What new skill could you learn at work? What new activity could you do outside of work? Could you join a book club at your local bookstore or take a cooking class? Could you take up gardening or painting? Get out of your routine, and challenge your mind. That's what makes life exciting.


You stayed up late for a couple nights hanging out with your friends. You got up just in time to get to work the next morning and skipped your regular morning run. You also forgot to pack your lunch, so you snacked on donuts and candy bars.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: You guessed it. You neglected the physical side of your life—your body. When you don't sleep enough, eat the right foods, and get sufficient exercise, you feel irritated, tired, and grumpy.

WHAT TO DO: Take care of your body. Leave work on time and make a commitment to go to the gym, join a yoga class, or walk the dogs. Stop by the store for some healthy food, and pick up nutritious snacks for when your energy's particularly low. Discipline yourself to one hour of TV and go to bed early. Nothing is more soothing and strengthening than a good night's sleep.


Yes, we all know we should take care of our body, and we know we should stimulate our minds. But what about our spirituality, our souls? They need nurturing, too. To care for your soul, you need quiet time alone.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: The soul is that inner voice that speaks so quietly that you need to stop and listen hard to hear it. when it speaks, your authentic self speaks, and if you aren't listening, then you're not connecting with yourself. you're missing out on opportunities to grow strong. and without knowing why, you likely experience difficulty making decisions.

WHAT TO DO: Take care of your soul. Schedule some time just for yourself. Sit and let the mind rest. For your soul to speak the truth about who you are, you need to listen.

Thanks to the growing popularity of yoga, many of you may know how it feels to sit without doing, to rest, to listen, to wait for that voice that will tell you what direction to take. That voice guides you through the worst storms.

Taking care of your soul takes many forms. If praying is part of your life, add a few minutes to your regular routine. If you meditate, make it a habit. Find out more about yourself; listen to your spirit and nurture it.


You've been working long hours and are negative on energy. Instead of calling your friends for some stimulating conversation, you go home and turn on the TV. And that's what you do most nights. Your mom and dad don't get their share of your attention either. The people you see most are your co-workers, and you don't have much in common with many of them.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: you're neglecting your emotional side. Deep, meaningful relationships nurture your heart. They connect you with other people and make you feel like you belong.

WHAT TO DO: Care for your heart. Call a friend who you haven't talked to for a while. Share your feelings and frustrations about work but don't blame. Take responsibility for your actions and brainstorm some possible solutions. Listen to the other person. Make them feel cared for, and they will care for you.

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