February came in and swept my feet out from under me. I don’t quite know the specific thing that brought me down or if it was a slow descent into the deep funk, but either way, I got there and was struggling to see my way out. I finally got tired of feeling down and tired and lacking energy and started discovery sessions with myself. I started by taking quiet walks alone, with the dogs in tow. No music, no podcasts, just me and my thoughts. My thoughts were intentional with questions like “What helps me to feel happy?” “What could I do to improve my motivation?” “Am I lacking motivation or energy?”. Then I would allow myself to explore the ideas. After a week of good long walks and thoughts with myself I came up with a few things to try, some were successes and some were flops. I did not judge myself in either situation, I just noticed how I felt after each one and made a mental note. You see, I want to be armed with good ideas for the next time I fall into the funk, so maybe it won’t take me the better part of a month to turn it around.
I also got honest with myself about my feelings, I wanted to be assured that I wanted to get out of these feelings for me and not because someone else was telling me that I “shouldn’t be feeling this way”. That happens, a lot. We think our goals are our own, but really they have been placed on us by others, and when we start on our path to the goal we realize we don’t even like what we are doing and either quit altogether or continue with resentment.
Through this process of self-discovery, I came up with 5 things that made me feel better about myself not only when I was doing them, but also throughout the day. Some because I was proud that I had done them and others I was looking forward to the “treat” I had promised myself.
- Reconnect with an old hobby. Hobbies can create mindfulness and alleviate stress. When you are doing them you are focusing only on them and nothing else at that moment. I ran through my list of things I enjoyed doing as a teen and young adult and remembered I loved doing cross-stitch. I love the journey I go through of starting with a blank piece of fabric and then end with a beautifully colored design. I also enjoy that it can be put down at any time and picked right back up later. So I went to Etsy, chose a pattern, bought all of the beautiful thread, and went to work. It also helps that I carve out time during the week to work on this project. I feel doing this creative work is just as important to my well-being as eating a meal or drinking my water.
- Sticking to my routines. Routines help us to feel more grounded in our day, give us something to look forward and lessen the load of decisions needing to be made. Making a routine you look forward to, especially in the morning can help to make getting out of bed a lot easier. In contrast, an evening routine can help you to transition from the craziness of your day to the relaxing state to help you get to sleep and hopefully stay asleep. Just like the hobby, creating a routine that feels natural can help you create mindfulness and focus on just that task.
- Take in some early morning sun, when available. Sitting in the early day sun, anytime between 8 AM and noon, for 5-30 minutes can raise your serotonin levels, which helps boost your mood and to help you feel a little calmer. Of course, being mindful of your skin tone and your tolerance to the sun. Doing this 2-3 times a week will help to increase your mood and boosts your Vitamin D levels which is great for your bone strength.
- Talk to a friend. Sometimes we feel alone in our moods, we may feel that everyone around us is having the time of their lives and we don’t want to ‘bother” anyone with our bad mood; but, what if you knew that talking with a loved one, family or friend, could help you both? How?
First, sharing how you are feeling with someone will create a sense of belonging for both of you, and create a sense of purpose with your friend. Second, being vulnerable creates a greater bond with someone. You have shown them that you trust them with your feelings. Third, you may be surprised to find out that your friend has experienced this same situation on their own and may have some sage words that help you to have clarity on how to proceed on your own. Fourth, may laugh, either at something relating to your funk or at something completely different, but either way, we all know that laughter is the best medicine. Hell, you may even cry and what’s the harm in that? No matter what, you are releasing emotions and clearing your mind. Finally, sharing your situation with a friend creates feelings of understanding for both of you. You may have learned something new about your friend or yourself and the same for your friend.
- Create a practice of Intentional Movement. This does not have to be anything in particular or done in a gym. This could be a 30-minute walk, a YouTube yoga class, a sweaty spin class, or a quick run around the block. Just something that you make time for, you intentionally say, I am going to go out and move my body and more importantly, causes you to breathe. When we are stressed, we unknowingly are holding our breath. This causes our muscles to tense and can create pain or discomfort in our bodies. Taking the time to listen to your body and figuring out where you are and how you want to move will help you to feel a sense of accomplishment, hush the inner voices and increases those serotonin levels.
If you are reading this and thinking, “who has time for all of this in one day, I have too much going on”. My answer is no one has time for all of this in one day, but what if you committed to doing two twice a week? And you created a time frame for them. So just as an example, if you feel that you want to move more and try to get some early day sun, plan a walk before noon, or on your lunch break. That’s two birds, one stone right there. It is more important to find a plan that works for you, helps you to feel less funky and more prepared to face your days with your chin up and your back strong.