Recognizing a Slump and Ways to Break Out Of It
It took me awhile to figure out what was going on with me.
I was excited to be embarking on new career adventures — working for myself — and riding high from taking my writing trip at the end of last month. Slowly, as the weeks went on, I found myself with a familiar feeling.
I was feeling uninspired again and always scraping for content to write about. Where my brain used to overflow with ideas, I’d often sit and stare at the computer, click through all my open tabs (there’s a lot), and read through my master list of post ideas with little to nothing happening as a result. It took me twice as long to write a post as it normally did.
I felt foggy. I felt heavy and like I was going through the motions with little to no excitement or enjoyment. I guess you could say it was a numb apathy with a little bit of annoyance at myself thrown in.
The thing that woke me up was laundry.
Prior to starting antidepressants at the behest of my therapist in 2015, one of the hardest things for me to do was the laundry. It sounds trivial, but the thought of getting off the couch, picking up the laundry basket, taking it to the basement to wash, doing it all over again in 25 minutes to change it to the dryer, doing it all over AGAIN in 45 minutes to bring it back, then fold it left me paralyzed on the couch. I’d look at my calendar to see if I could push it to the next day or the day after that. Doing laundry was like climbing a mountain when I was depressed.
I was having trouble doing laundry again. I was pushing it later and later and that is what finally made me realize that there was something going on. I don’t know whether to attribute it to the weather change, life change, 8 weeks of a less-than-normal exercise routine because of my injury, or just a change in brain chemicals, but I was and continue to struggle with depressive symptoms again.
And it’s ok.
Life is a continuous ebb and flow. There’s ups and down and all arounds. The biggest thing to remember is that these are phases and while our control over them may not be complete, there are things that we can do to make these times more manageable.
This is one of the hardest things for me to do. I want to push past whatever is slowing me down and force myself to work harder than ever. When I mentally or physically can’t, I view that as a failure and beat myself up about it.
Accepting that you’re in a slump is a quicker way to acknowledge the problem and start looking for a solution. Denying or ignoring what’s going on only prolongs finding ways to help yourself get out of it.
Get help if you need it
It doesn’t have to be professional help, although I know in my case that would be a great option as it’s never let me down before. You can get help from friends, family, or anyone else you feel may be able to break you out of your slump.
I find that telling someone else about what is going on is a way for me to help alleviate some of the pressure I put on myself. It’s a way to stay accountable for your own self-care because that person will likely follow up to see how you’re doing. Also, keeping negative feelings inside is also not going to help you work through them.
Help someone else
I’ve always liked helping other people. Granted, a lot of it came from a place of people-pleasing, but after I broke that habit I realized that it was still something I liked to do. Helping someone else takes the attention off of you. You’re no longer fixated on why you’re feeling this way or beating yourself up about it; you’re focusing on something outside yourself.
During this time I’ve started asking people how I can help them and it’s made a ton of difference in helping myself.
Make small goals
It might sound stupid, but yesterday I mailed a bill that has been sitting on my desk since the beginning of the month. I told myself what an awesome job I did. I had been staring at the bill and stressing myself out because I couldn’t find the energy to address an envelope and put it in the mailbox.
Even if they are everyday things like mailing a bill or doing the laundry, congratulate yourself for getting them done. Trying to tackle a ton of things at once or one momentous goal is going to leave you overwhelmed and unable to move into action.
I know it’s a phase, although it’s hard to remember that in the moment when you’re surrounded by dirty laundry and all you want to do is cry and ask yourself why you can’t just take it downstairs. For someone who gravitates towards immediate gratification, sitting in an uncomfortable phase isn’t really my cup of tea, but each day I get up and remind myself that with small goals and good choices, one of those days I will wake up and things will be a little bit easier.
I’d love to hear some of your tips in the comments!