The Blahs – when you and your world feel “off,” not normal, and you’re not sure why.
The Sads – when you are unhappy or disappointed by something specific.
Down in the Dumps – you feel unworthy and dejected due to a particular reason.
This is not about depression. That’s beyond the scope of my expertise. I’m talking temporary and (mostly) specific here. Feelings that last a day or two, maybe a week at the most.
For me, The Blues started a particular cycle. I’d let my feelings take over to the point I’d lash out at everyone around me. After the raging bitch was gone, remorse set in, and I’d apologize. We’d go along happily for a while and then the fun would start again.
After enough years of this highly unproductive cycle, I realized what a waste of time and energy it was.
Something needed to change.
After a lot of trial and error here’s what I discovered:
1. Learn Your Triggers
After paying attention for a while, I noticed it was that period of The Blues that set things in motion for me. So, the obvious conclusion was that I had to stop from sliding into that slimy pit of evil. But how? By noticing what it felt like at the very beginning of the fall.
Clearly, this takes some time and patience to figure out. Try to make it interesting for yourself. Become a scientist running an mad lab experiment. Or a journalist digging up a juicy tidbit. Use whatever metaphor it takes to get down deep and figure this out.
I discovered that 99% of the time three things cause me to start sinking – lack of light due to the weather, busyness to the point of overwhelm, and lack of sleep. Once I understood that, I could take measures to keep those things from happening.
Obviously, some things we can’t control. I can’t effect the weather, but turning on lights helps. It doesn’t help my electric bill, but I keep it just to the room I’m in at that moment. Unlike my kids who don’t have my excuse.
2. Do Something You Love
Read, watch a favorite TV show or movie, eat chocolate, listen to music, shop, get a mani-pedi, whatever gives you pleasure.
Hey, get your minds out of the gutter!
Doing things you enjoy raises the level of endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals, in your brain. Just take it easy. We’re trying to pull you back from the edge here, not kick you over it.
3. Learn Something New
Learning something new focuses your attention and distracts you from your problems.
Learn a new craft, to take and/or edit photos, play an instrument, draw or paint, fix appliances, build a shelf. Plant some flowers by your door. Learn to speak a new language.
Obviously, some of these you can’t just do on the spur of the moment. They require preparation and purchasing materials. That’s fine. It’s going to take time to figure out some of your triggers anyway. Why not lay in a few supplies ahead of time?
If you haven’t done that and find yourself poised to eat a whole gallon of Death by Chocolate ice cream, at least look up how to do something on YouTube. I swear, there are videos that teach you how to do anything. Just don’t fall down the online rabbit hole.
4. A Change of Scenery
For a little while, get away from the walls that box you in.
Just sitting on your back steps or deck may help. Meander around your back yard or walk around your neighborhood. Go for a drive or a hike.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
This has become my mantra lately. It works for all occasions.
Life is crazed enough as it is without loading ourselves up with all kinds of guilt too. Give yourself the time, the space, and the patience needed to make positive changes.
The people around you will notice the difference. And so will you.
* * *
I’m certainly not perfect. These days when I mess up it’s usually because I’m goin’ along, forget to look for my triggers, and don’t even notice when I’m feeling down. Then WHAMMO! I recognize the pattern. Or my husband will say something grouchy and I’ll wonder what’s up with him and realize I fell off the bitch wagon again. It really is a nasty cycle.
So I get my butt in gear and do one or all of the above, depending on how bad it is.
I don’t claim this is The Only Way. This is what I’ve found works for me. I’m sharing it, though, because maybe it’ll help someone else.
Image courtesy Joe Penna on Flickr Creative Commons.