I started a recent week feeling extremely low, sad and heavy-hearted. Some bad things had happened outside of my control, there was very little I could do to fix them, and my emotions had tanked as a result. I was feeling sad, mad, frustrated, hurt and more.
Have you ever noticed that once you start feeling low and negative about one specific thing (or 2-3 things, as in my case), suddenly ALL THE BAD THINGS spiral into your head and won’t go away?
I began feeling utterly overwhelmed with all the negativity and darkness I could see and feel – like there was no end in sight. Like I was being swallowed up by it and I couldn’t see any positive or good at all. It was NOT fun, and it is very rare for me to be in such poor mental health.
I literally put myself to bed at 7 pm – I was no good to anyone in that state. I thought some rest might help, and thankfully it did.
So, what do you do when you get overwhelmed by bad stuff or negative emotions? Here is a list of the things I typically do to get myself back on track emotionally:
- Signal the tribe. Typically the first thing I do is send out smoke signals on Facebook. I am so positive in my posts 95% of the time that if I put out an “SOS” in the form of a sad or vaguely negative post, friends and family know right away that something’s wrong. Sometimes I’ll even say outright that I need a hug. This way, the friends who see it and who have time to reach out will do so. I am often really touched by just who reaches out, and I invariably feel better after some kind and loving words from friends or family.
- Phone a friend. If I’m really feeling low and only a deep conversation with a friend will do, then I’ll reach out to my tight innermost circle and ask for some quality time. E is always my #1 choice (yes, he’s my husband – but he’s also my best friend and ride or die!), unless that’s not possible. Now that my BFF has moved to Florida, unfortunately B and I are limited to phone and Facetime – but fortunately, my #sunriseruncrew besties are always up for getting together in person to talk.
- Take a walk. Getting out in nature, ideally with a friend, is another great way to shake the blues away and get back in a clearer, more “me” mindset. There’s something about fresh air, trees and flowers, and conversation with someone you care about while you both pound the pavement for a while. It hits all the right buttons every time. Running outdoors in nature is also awesome for clearing the mind and gaining perspective.
- Grow through pain. Anytime something hurts a lot emotionally, it is usually a sign we’re growing or that we need to grow. Growth times are called “AFOG” – another f*#$ing opportunity for growth – for a reason. They hurt! But, the growth is worth it. Just listen to Andy Grammar’s song “Wish You Pain” if you don’t believe me. This is a terrific lesson to pass on to our kids, too; emotional pain will always pass, and often we can learn and grow from it.
- Call my mom. Often, my Mommers is one of the first calls I make when something goes wrong or I’m feeling lousy. She can always make me feel better and lift my spirits! I’m thankful that we talk every week; our standing phone dates always make my commute feel shorter and my heart a whole lot happier. There’s no one like your mommy to make you feel better.
- Engage the senses. Making a cup of hot herbal tea, breathing in some essential oils, getting a massage, stretching out with some yoga or seeing my chiropractor for an adjustment are often my next self-care steps. There’s something about getting back in my body that helps free me from tangled thoughts and emotions. And if what I’m going through is major and growth-inducing enough, it may even trigger a tattoo appointment, since tattoo has historically been another form of self-care and personal therapy for me.
- Get some rest/have a snack/snuggle the dogs. It’s really common to feel our lowest when we’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired – so anytime I’m feeling down, I try to reach for a healthy or comforting snack (hint: chocolate seems to help!) and then take a nap or go to bed early. Often, things seem brighter after a good night’s rest. Snuggling the dogs is a no-brainer – their perennially wagging tails and happy faces just make everything better!
- Write it out. Journaling or blogging is my favorite way to work through tough times and issues by seeking the light through the darkness. I will often grab a journal and some favorite pens and begin to vent via “stream of consciousness” writing until I can figure out exactly what’s wrong, what I am feeling or how I can learn and grow from it. The expression “name it to tame it” factors in here – writing helps us figure out exactly what’s bothering us, which is often a first step to healing.
- Remember what’s important. Probably my favorite way to get out of a funk is to spend time with Zoebelle. She is the most beautiful, kind and courageous little person I know. She can always make me smile, get me laughing and refresh my mind and spirit. I don’t like to burden her with my sad or bad feelings – in fact, I try to spare her – but at the same time, it’s good for kids to see that adults deal with big emotions, too. If I do go to bed early because I’m feeling down, I try to let her know that so she can see how I’m dealing with things.
I’ve certainly used other methods to numb or cushion painful times in the past – including overeating, overindulging in mind altering substances or overspending – but those never helped as much as I wanted them to. I stand by my list above as these are far superior funk-busting methods. And you’ll notice I don’t have “treat yo’self” on the list above, because too often indulging ourselves is not actually self care, but is more of a numbing mechanism and takes us farther away from where we actually want to be.
What are your favorite ways to break out of a temporarily depressed or down mindset, and get back to feeling right as rain again? I’d love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook.