Find Happiness: 5 Ways to Get Through A Rough Day

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Most of us dread Mondays. There’s this need to get over “the hump” on Wednesdays. And now, the Daily Muse posted an article about 10am Tuesdays being the most stressful time of the week. Whatever the reason, we all need a little pick-me-up every now and then.

Here are 5 things you can do today to get boost your happiness.

1) Add to your gratitude list.

Every night, before bed, I write about a few things I was grateful for that day. I started this in 2012, during the stressful holiday season and I couldn’t see past the mountain of jewelry I had to make. After tracking my hours for the day, I listed all of the good things I was thankful for that day because after a crappy day, there HAD TO be good things that happened.

After getting over the initial resistance, those 3 small things that happened that day had me smiling again. And suddenly, the work I had to do the next day didn’t seem so bad.

2) Take a nap.

There’s a reason siestas are a tradition in Spain. If you’re a creative entrepreneur, there’s a chance you might be a tad sleep deprived. Tackling new goals for the year, and holding down a day job can be stressful. Not getting enough sleep not only brings down your mood but can also hinder your work.

A study by German researchers showed that even a short nap can boost your mood and improve your ability to learn and remember.

3) Put on some happy music.

It’s probably no shock that a happy song can do wonders to lift your spirits.

A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association showed that 126 ICU (intensive care unit) patients in 5 hospitals in Missouri were given the chance to listen to whatever music they liked and the results were astounding. After a 5 day period, patients felt they needed “less sedation and felt less anxiety than patients receiving usual care.”

So put on your favorite song and dance.

4) Hug someone.

As a common form of saying hello and goodbye, we never really think of how this simple gesture can ease worries and stress. A hug is a simple way of conveying love and approval. It can express sympathy and congratulations.

A hug brings on feelings of love. This results in the release of oxytocin which lifts feelings of sadness and anger. Hugs can also increase serotonin levels which boosts your happiness. This quick expression of support and approval also gives a nice lift to our self-esteem.

We often offer to give someone a hug, but if you need one, don’t be afraid to ask.

5) Have some “me time.”

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Take a break. Whatever it is you’re doing, whatever is causing your stress and unhappiness, walk away from it. Even a small break can do wonders.

Forcing yourself to work through your unhappiness can result in an unending cycle of negativity. If you’re working on a creative piece and feeling unhappy, your emotions are likely to show in your work. You may rush through it just to get it done. Your drawing may turn harsh. The colors in your painting may change with your mood. Walking away and taking a breather will help your work and keep you sane.

What are some quick ways you try and boost your mood during a stressful day?

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Make Goals, Not Resolutions

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The new year means new beginnings and second chances. After a season of indulgence (just one more slice of pumpkin pie, please) and spending, we’re all making plans and resolutions. As entrepreneurs, our resolutions often include our small businesses. Sometimes, our resolutions are reinterpretations of what we couldn’t accomplish last year. How many of us look to why we never actually accomplished our resolutions?

Last year, Forbes put out an article that stated only 8% of people who made resolutions achieve them at the end of the year.

That is a rather depressing number. It’s enough to make some of us not want to even bother with resolutions.

And I agree. We shouldn’t be making resolutions. We should be making goals.

What’s the difference?

Most resolutions are vague and with no real deadline other than the knowledge that you should be done by the end of the year. Goals, however, are entirely different beasts all together.

So before tossing out your resolutions, try and turn them into goals first. Here’s how.

1) Get specific.

We’d all like to eat healthier. It’s a common resolution for most people. But “eat healthier” is a very vague statement. How are you going to eat healthier? What are you going to change in your diet? Do you have a number of fruits or veggies you want to eat every day? Or maybe you want to cut something out of your diet or cut down on the fast food meals. Take the vague and add some detail to it. “Eat healthier” becomes “Eat 3 fresh fruits every day.”

2) Give yourself something to track.

What about your goal can be tracked? Give yourself something you can measure and check your progress as you go along. Another common resolution is “lose weight.” How much do you want to lose? At the end of the year, you could be one pound lighter and that would technically be reaching your resolution but will you have grown or improved your life at all? “Lose weight” could turn into “Lose 20 lbs.”

3) Add in a deadline.

While most of our goals are going to be something we work on the entire year, other goals can be achieved in a shorter amount of time. You may want to lose those 20 lbs by April. Then you can set yourself up with another goal for the end of the year if you want. Or enjoy the 20 lbs you lost and take yourself to the beach. Deadlines give our brains a clear idea on when we need to reach our destination. And having a date down gives us a time frame on how much work we need to do. Without a deadline, you’ll kind of float around all year and then BAM! it’s December.

Using these 3 goal-making elements, look over your resolutions for the year and transform them into achievable and rewarding goals.

And don’t forget to throw in some fun goals as well… like “Take a trip to Seattle in May.”

What are some of your goals for the new year?

4 Customer Service Tips to Keep You Sane

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Congratulations! You made it through the holiday season alive. Now comes the dark side of a busy holiday season for handmade business owners: difficult, upset, angry, and/or cranky customers. There is no doubt that you  will have more happy customers than unhappy, but the more sales you make, the more likely you are to have customers who need you to answer questions or fix a problem.

Imagine what the day after a major holiday looks like for a big retailer. Mile long lines for returns and exchanges. As an online small business owner, your job also includes customer service. And because there’s no buffer between you and a potentially cranky customer, you can go from happy to tears in a matter of seconds.

We already know you are going to do your best and go the extra mile to help your customer and make them feel special. But what about you? Are you approaching customer service with your own health and happiness in mind? Here are some tips to keep you sane.

1) Read the whole email. If it makes you angry, defensive, or want to cry, mark it as unread and walk away.

Customer service is an essential part of running your business. And you don’t want to write a response that is fueled by negative emotions. Writing an email or Etsy message gives customers the protection of being faceless and anonymous and there is a chance that, depending on what the problem is, they may get heated. Especially if you’re dealing with something that was meant to be a present for a loved one.

Before answering that upsetting email, write a reminder note and just step away. This doesn’t mean don’t respond. You will respond soon. But take advantage of the email/messaging system and walk away for a little bit to distance yourself from the negative energy.

2) Talk to someone.

Before answering an upsetting email or message, vent your frustrations and talk about your concerns with someone you know.

Talking to someone, sharing in the frustrations, and yelling can be therapeutic. You’ll get everything off your chest that you want to say to your customer but probably shouldn’t. And you don’t have to go to another business owner, but it can be helpful sometimes. There are discussion boards for handmade business owners and they usually have a few threads going on about difficult customers. If you ever need someone to relate to, seek out some of these forums.

3) Absolutely no excuses.

Life happens. Unhappiness may strike. Or maybe you were just so busy, one order slipped through the cracks. Whatever the reason, don’t respond to a customer with excuses.

Unless you’re emailing the customer BEFORE shipping out their order and letting them know why it will be late or that you need to cancel it, you should not respond with an excuse.

Why? They don’t want or need to know. All they want to know is if, how, and when you are going to fix their problem. And the less they know about your personal life, the less they can direct any negative energy toward it.

4) Be real. Be authentic. Be you.

You are not a big, faceless corporation. A lot of handmade customers come to you because you are a small business owner and not only do they love your gorgeous work, but they want to support you.

So, if you’re not a big, faceless corporation, why are you trying to talk like one? Stop stressing and don’t attempt to wrap your mind around what kind of jargon a “professional” business would use in this situation. If you think of yourself as a professional, then you are already a “professional.” And as long as you remember to apologize, thank them for allowing you to remedy the situation, and use spell check, the way you speak is probably just fine.

Do you have any customer service tips to share with other handmade business owners?