It’s Monday, and I’m in a slump.
I’ve had a flatness niggling me for the past couple of days which seems to have culminated in a storm of “meh” today.
So, in an effort to de-slump myself I’m going to follow the advice I would give to a friend in my situation.
#1. What is wrong?
This seems like an obvious question but sometimes we think we’re in a mood about something when it’s actually about something else, or sometimes we just know something is there, worming it’s way around our brains, interrupting our thoughts and distracting us from what we want to focus on but we struggle to put our finger on what is wrong.
Take a mindful 5 minutes to sit with your thoughts in a quiet place (go to the loo if you’re in a noisy office) and just ask yourself some questions. Get to the bottom of what’s causing the meh.
Here are some examples of what you might ask:
What precisely am I feeling?
Why am I feeling irritated / angry / sad / listless?
What is the specific thing I am worrying about?
Is that what I’m actually really worried / angry / sad / scared about or is it a symptom of something else?
If I could make one problem disappear with a magic wand what would it be?
Just observe your answers, I cannot emphasise this enough do not judge yourself. Just accept that is how you’re feeling, it doesn’t matter how you think you ‘should’ be feeling, it matters what you are feeling. There is no right or wrong here!
Okay, so here are my answers:
My house is undergoing some rather drawn out renovations and the lack of homely feeling is getting to me (sofa pushed to one side of the living room, boxes stacked up, all my happy homey things are packed away so I can’t even light a candle). Yesterday I went to open my living room blind and it fell down and it’s sitting in the corner of the lounge taunting me. My home is my sanctuary and my sanctuary currently looks like this:
I have hiccups and they are driving me nuts.
I think I may have a fungal infection on my toe (gross I know, but there are no secrets here) but I’m not sure if it’s just dry from wearing polish non-stop over the summer and using crappy remover.
That is the surface stuff.
This is what’s underneath
I am feeling very uncertain about my future direction, I’m somewhat lost. It’s not that I’m not excited – I love crocheting and writing every day and feel so lucky right now to have this break from the everyday working life, but where is it heading? Can I succeed? There are so many things to try that sometimes it feels like too many. Where do I start? Will things ever take off? Should I focus on one thing or be a multipotentialite?
Then there’s the taboo but practical issue of money. Will I ever make enough money from my creative activities to do it full time? Will I have to get a part time job to support myself? What will that be? Where will that be? When should I start looking? Is that a sign of failure? Arrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh!
You get the idea!
So. Onto step 2
#2. Can you do anything about it?
This is such a powerful question!
So much of our stress is about our perception of control over our situations.
Knowing and accepting we have no control over certain things is scary but so utterly liberating.
If the answer is a definite No then you’re set – No, I cannot influence the crazy that is currently going on in North Korea. If WW3 happens then I’ll just move to the forest and start foraging, for food that hasn’t been affected by the radiation, but I’ll deal with that when it happens, there really is no point worrying in this specific moment.
Good. That’s that sorted then.
So lets look at what you can do. I’m a huge believer in the ‘choose your attitude’ philosophy. Basically Reframe the crap out of your problems – the world really is what we think it is!
#3. What can you do this minute to change your mood?
Start by thinking about that one thing, the one a magic wand could sort.
What can I do then?
I can draw a rainbow on the bare plaster before I paint over it (which I can’t do for another 10 days because I’m waiting for more work to be done!)
I can paint the window inset where the fallen blind hung and give it a clean whilst I can lay it flat.
I can keep visualising how awesome my place will look when it’s done and relish in the fact that there is no point in certain bits of housework until everything is done
I can’t know how my future will pan out right now, but what I can do is to accept that unknown remind myself that it’s actually a good thing!
I can get organised. I have so many thoughts and ideas pinging around my head, I need to find a way to get them out without them getting lost. I need to write a list about everything I want to do now and start to prioritise it. I am such a list person.
James Altucher who is one of my favourite bloggers writes a lot about getting your ideas out and encourages people to write 10 ideas a day so I think that’s a good start for me for today. Yay, another list!
Did I mention I love lists?
#4 What can you do in the longer term to stop the slump recurring?
A lot of these strategies are about recognising what causes the demotivation and learning how to derail it. If you can see it coming then you can change something up, take a break, switch gears, whatever works for you. There is lots of trial and error involved but if your plans don’t work out how you expected, always ask yourself how can you learn from the experience and change things for next time.
Learn, learn and learn.
Get to know yourself!
So how am I going to prevent this feeling of overwhelm again?
Well firstly I need to accept that this is not the last time I will feel like this. But I can remember that I can do something about it. It will not last forever, nothing does!
For me, it’s all about ordering my thoughts. Writing stuff down is better, for me, than trying to do it all in my head.
I need to note down all the things I want, work out what the next step is to make them happen, set short and long term goals and deadlines (like when to step back into the ‘real world’).
In short. Make plans
The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether these plans change along the way. That is the sheer joy of life, but having somewhere to focus is something that helps keep the anxiety at bay.
And if all else fails…
I hope you find some of these thoughts helpful. I’d love to hear how you manage these periods and deal with motivational issues!
For now I’m off to find my colouring pencils and write some lists!
P.S. My hiccups have gone!