Taking 15 minutes for physical activity helps you stop ruminating about things from your past. Neuroscience shows that exercise gets endorphins flowing, which make us feel happier. It has been proven to change brain chemistry. Doing this daily can give structure to your life, and can be a step in replacing the strict routine that is sometimes a part of life in a spiritually abusive group.
Get outside, and focus on the environment around you. What do you see? Smell? Hear? Are there animals? Interesting people? Can you feel sun on your cheeks? Wind in your hair? Focus on the present moment. Savor this time. This is the life you are living.
You do not have to wait for a future time to begin living fully.
Focus on your senses.
Write 3 Positive Things From the Last 24 Hours
Pull out a journal or a sheet of paper. Write 3 positive things from the previous day. The more specific you are, the better. Don’t just write, “Seeing my son”. Write, “Seeing my son because it reminded me that I am loved unconditionally.”
After leaving a situation of spiritual abuse, it is easy to think life cannot go on without returning to the group or yielding to the person who spiritually abused you. You may remember the good old days and forget the bad old days. By recording the good in your life, you focus on the present. You generate happy thoughts, and acknowledge the good. You counteract the “all or nothing” conditioning, and stop catastrophizing (i.e. labeling your life as over or wholly negative).
What is good in your life right now?
For more ideas
watch Shawn Achor's Ted Talk,
The Happy Secret to Better Work.
Identify Your Top 5 Core Values
It is important to identify what you value.
Some values to consider might be: Loyalty. Honesty. Wealth. Education and lifelong learning. Protecting children. Working to improve the environment. Participating as a citizen. Integrity. Healthy living. Following your conscience. Sexual fulfillment. Being kind. Showing mercy. Being open-minded. Being welcoming. Living with ambiguity, and not needing to know. Enjoying nature.
By identifying what matters to you, you may see that you no longer share the values of the group. Being true to your values is an important step in moving your life forward.
What do you value, when no one is around? What makes you, you?
Take Notice of Your Joy
Whenever you find yourself laughing and smiling, praise yourself with thoughts like, “Look at me having fun. Nice job.” By noticing your joy, and praising yourself, you strengthen your brain’s ability to notice and feel joy. (Using your name will reinforce the self-praise.)
Joy comes in a series of small moments strung together. Here are some common moments of joy: your pet’s happiness at seeing you when you come home, seeing a beautiful sunset or interesting cloud formation, seeing a flower blooming, talking with a new friend, laughing at a funny movie. Joy does not have to wait until you can see your loved ones again. It is not dependent upon other people waking up to the reality of their spiritual abuse.
Soon you will feel joy without having to remind yourself to take notice. Feeling joy, will leave less room for focusing on what used to be.
These brief activities, when done regularly, will help rewire your brain. There are a number of books available on building a happy brain.