"Help!" (After some practice you will no longer need that pesky exclamation point after it.)
7. Plug into Blue-Sky TV (But Only for an Hour)
Everybody knows about junk TV. We all love it, we all feel bad about loving it but tell ourselves not to feel bad—rinse and repeat. But let's talk about the junk of the junk, the fluffy cream inside the Twinkie of small-screen watching: blue-sky TV. These are shows where the sun shines literally and figuratively. No matter what the problem—murder, a deadly virus, a marital fight—all is resolved with minimal heartache, usually on a beach or a sun-drenched sidewalk. Once you notice the blue-sky phenomenon, you will see it everywhere. The Hard-Hitting Drama About Handsome Cops Who Drive Ferraris...in Miami. The Serial Soap Opera About the Beautiful but Wronged Young Heiress...in the Hamptons. The Heartwarming Family Saga Where the Whole Extended Clan Argues but Eats Dinner Together...Outside on a Picnic Table in California. The Zombie Show Where Dead People Eat Live People...Under Pastoral Puffy Clouds. Tired women do NOT need realistic gray skies and atmospheric real rain. Most of us can shut our eyes and see that going in our heads. Plugging into a fictional universe where not only are the threats to happiness candied but the weather comes bottled in corn syrup is a little like falling into a drawing from kindergarten, when everybody drew stick pictures of people holding hands.
8. Do the Boring, Bare Minimum
Everybody has one or two practical things they know they need to do to not get depressed, things that are guaranteed to improve our mood. These things are not always fun. They are things like working out, eating five fruits and veggies a day, practicing your mediation, doing your bad-back stretches, working on your poetry, which makes you feel good but also makes you feel scared that you can't write poetry. It gets harder and harder to do them especially if you are one of the tired, overcommitted women whose only free time is at 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. My thinking is that we need to do things to keep ourselves from slipping into a dark blasted pit of the blahs, but...we don't need to do them all that well. We can slop through the 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer or stuff the nutritious banana down right before bed. This approach, of course, means violating the number one belief that all tired, overcommitted women base their lives on—excellence at all costs. (Why do you think we're tired and overcommitted, anyway?) But happiness, thank God, is not something that requires excellence. You can be slap-dash happy. You can be lazily and incompetently happy. The emotion, in fact, improves under such conditions.
Next: The activity that wins over all others