Phew! I’ve just returned from about a week in “crap-land” and it’s been pretty educational! I made a few interesting food choices at a friend’s birthday party (a little too much cake and beer) and it threw my fussy digestion out, which in turn affected my mood and outlook on life in general. (Check out this post for more on the connection between gut-health and happiness).
This morning I was able to find the gratitude for my week of suckful feelings. For what it taught me and for the compassion and empathy it gives me for others going through similar sucky times. But at the time my grey-tinted glasses made everything dull and meaningless.
I felt like I was in groundhog day living the same dull day over and over.
I felt lonely, and yet I didn’t really want to spend time with my friends. In flat-land I was bloated, fatigued, craved sugar all the time and slept for a full 12 hours a few nights in a row. This was by no means my first visit to crapville, and I was happy to discover that I’ve learnt a few strategies for weathering the harsh winds and grey days in this cold place.
Tools to weather the storm of crap, depression and general suckiness
- No stories. Avoid buying into any stories your mind tries to tell you. i.e. ‘My life is meaningless’; ‘There’s no money coming in’; ‘I don’t have enough friends’; ‘My bad habits are out of control.’ While you’re wearing the grey-tinted glasses, everything seems crap. Don’t buy into it. Just keep telling yourself “this will pass” and “it’s temporary“ and if you find yourself telling a sad story about your situation, just stop it! Go and do something else. Distract yourself any way you can (ahem, within reason people!)
What if you knew that you had 4 days, 3 hours and 27 minutes until you’d feel yourself again and it was simply a matter of riding it out? What if you knew that this feeling wasn’t your fault, wasn’t personal and wouldn’t last forever. Wouldn’t you just hunker down. Get out a bunch of movies. Call some friends. Get your favourite books and just pass the time as best you could?
- Know your tiny steps up. Even when everything feels awful, there is a teeny tiny staircase that may lift you 1mm higher. For me these things are music, nature, friends, movies, good food, warmth, baths, massages and singing. Know what your tiny steps are and even if you notice no improvement, do them anyway! Later on you may see how these little things all helped.
- Nourish your body. I used to reach for all kinds of crap when I was feeling low: alcohol, energy drinks, and loads of refined sugars – anything to get me out of the awful mood. However these things keep you in crap-land for much longer. My achilles heel is still the comfort of cheese-on-toast, chocolate brownies and croissants but if you can ensure your main meals are vegetable rich and keep on top of the probiotics and omega-3’s, I believe you’ll be on your way outta flat-land a lot faster!
- Move and treat your body. If you have the means or opportunity to have a massage, a bath or a sauna – take it! Give yourself the nurturing you need! It’s amazing what sending this message out into the energetic field will do. Move your body! Even if it means a slow walk around the block, a wander in the hills, a dance in your living room or a bike ride along the river. It’s amazing what a change of scene and some fresh air and fresh blood pumping through your body will do!
- Gratitude. As lethargic as you may feel, try to continue your meditation or gratitude practice. You may not be able to feel those grateful feelings deep into your soul, but it’s important to keep perspective and remind yourself you’re still amongst the luckiest people on the planet to have food, shelter, warmth and some kind of device to be reading this right now.
- Nourish your mind. TED talks and inspiring YouTube clips are a great help in these times too. Remind yourself how fascinating our planet is. Check out all the amazing new things that are being invented. There’s mind-blowing stuff out there!
- Smile. They say the smiling is the most powerful form of healing. Smiling releases endorphins, boosts your immune system and lifts your mood. You may not feel like smiling, but do it anyway! In a UK study using electromagnetic brain scans and heart-rate monitors, researchers found that one smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars! Need a little help? Try a YouTube search for ‘funny animals’ or ‘banned advertisements’.
The tipping point
So what shifted my crap mood in the end? After days of rain and grey skies, a burst of sun came through. I grabbed my dog and we headed into the hills for a walk. I put on my latest Spotify playlist and charged up the hill. I started wondering how I’d coach a client who was stuck in this place. Is it just a matter of time to let these things pass or is there a secret trap-door out of here faster? What if I could just decide to shift this? What if I could just change my energy and move from this place? I let the thought go and headed around a corner just as an awesome new track came through my headphones. The music started pumping and I was filled with hope. I began drumming the air to the beat of the music and as I got to the top of the hill and looked out across the city…the energy had shifted. I was back!
Woah, was that a coincidence? Was it the change in weather? Was the feeling ready to shift anyway or did I have a part in the shift? Who knows, but the takeaway point is that it always passes. If you can get through being kind to yourself, it will make the whole sucky ordeal so much less sucky!
Be kind to yourself!
MindbodyGreen has a great article titled 10 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Feel Like Crap that I think are an awesome addition to this post:
- Will I allow myself to play the victim or will I choose to be responsible for this situation?
- Will I continue to react to circumstances or will I choose to create the life I want to live?
- Can I take the time to respond from a place of clarity and strength, rather than immediately react to this experience?
- Will I blame others for the situation or will I take responsibility for it and create an action plan to move forward from a place of personal power and strength?
- Am I allowing someone else to take away my personal power? (Hint: if you’re playing the victim, the answer to this will always be yes.)
- How can I be of service to this person, situation or circumstance and myself so that we feel buoyed, rather than weighed down?
- How can I create something meaningful for me and/or others out of this experience?
- Am I placing expectations on myself or others? Are those expectations serving me in any way?
- What if, through this challenge I choose to learn, create, grow and expand rather than blame, resent or accuse?
- What is my gut telling me? (And am I listening?)