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You know how the expression goes: Slump happens. Okay, so that’s not quite how the expression goes, but it’s sort of the same thing, right? Now and then, you’re cruising along, minding your own business, when you really step in it. And once you’ve stepped in a slump, a stink settles over you that can feel impossible to shake.
Sometimes a slump is triggered by work stress. Other times it’s kickstarted by problems at home. Some slumps seemingly come out of nowhere, with no rhyme or reason. Regardless of how they come about, though, slumps always suck. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to spending the rest of your life in a slump.
With these (baby) steps, you should be able to start putting your slump behind you.
Acknowledge and Accept
Slumps have a way of making you feel like something is wrong with you. Like, maybe you aren’t in a slump — maybe you’re just a failure. But oh, honey, no. A slump is a slump. Deep down, most of us can tell when a funk is starting to take over, yet we still try to ignore it or rationalize it. However, when you’re in a solid slump, sticking your head in the sand will only make it stretch on longer. A better tactic? Facing your slump head-on by acknowledging it and accepting it.
If you can pinpoint starting to feel this way right as the pandemic hit, then it’s important to know that you’re not alone. In fact, according to an ongoing survey of mental health by the CDC, rates of anxiety or depression have only increased since the pandemic’s start, and especially as the nation went into quarantine. If you’re one of the many millions facing a hard time right now, it’s important to seek help, whether via a counselor or a friend.
The insidious thing about a slump is that it sort of lurks around in the dark, waiting to pull you in. By asking for help or talking to people about the funk you’ve been feeling, you pull it into the light. And once it’s there, it’s much easier to see that you are the one with the real power — not your slump.
Give Yourself Grace
Listen, some people are going to tell you that you shouldn’t throw a pity party. They want you to be positive and bounce toward a sunnier state of mind. You should know that you’re allowed to feel a little sorry for yourself, though. You don’t want to dwell in those feelings, but you shouldn’t feel guilty if you give in to your feelings for just a moment. Often, the only way to get past certain feelings — anger or confusion or sadness — is to feel them.
Sure, this sounds slightly at odds with the point we just made. In reality, though, they go hand in hand. You’ve got a hard enough battle dealing with the darkness rolling around in your head right now. Don’t compound that any more than you can help. Steer clear of toxic people. Avoid places with negative associations. To help you find your way out of your slump, you’ll want to surround yourself with people and places that will lift you up, not pull you down further.
Find the Lesson
You might be thinking that this sounds like some annoying zen-meta-namaste crap. Still, looking for the teachable moment in your slump can give you a positive channel for focusing your energy. As crazy as it sounds, it can be healing to give thanks for the slump. What did you learn from it? Did it help change your perspective for the better? Pinpoint the silver lining in the situation and be grateful for it.
Practice True Self-Care
You can’t be truly happy if you don’t take care of yourself first. There’s a reason they say to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can help others. Pick up a gratitude journal and start small, by acknowledging your health, the food on your table, the support system around you, for having shelter over your head, and other small things. It will put so much into perspective.
When you’re deep in a slump, it’s hard to take care of yourself. Even brushing your hair goes out the window. And those dust bunnies? Why bother? They’ll just reappear tomorrow. But, forcing yourself to take care of yourself can actually improve your slump. How? If you’re already feeling down, looking in the mirror at your crazy brows or stepping into the kitchen to find the ever growing pile of dishes only makes you feel worse. Suddenly you’re not just down because of point A. Now you’re down because you feel ugly or because your house is trashed. Live in the filth during your pity party, but then take steps to turn things around. Make a self care box. Take the bubble bath (and brush your hair afterwards) and wash the dishes. Tomorrow you can wax your brows and swiffer just one room. Accomplishing a task, no matter how small, will give you a rush of adrenaline and make you feel better. Promise.
In other words: Take time for yourself. What do you want to do? What do you feel is missing from your life? Do you need to seek counsel from a therapist? Placing your mental health above all else is an incredibly important first step in getting out of a slump.
Shake Things Up
There’s truly nothing like a shock to the system to shake you right out of your slump. After all, a slump by definition is when you get stuck. By doing something dramatically different than your normal routine, it could be enough to reignite that fire in your belly to get out into the world and do something.
Set Small Goals
Don’t worry; no one is testing you on how fast you can find your way out of a rut. It’s not a competition, either. No one is going to be waiting at the finish line, taunting you for not sloughing off your slump the fastest. It’s okay to start with small goals — one at a time — and work your way out of your slump slowly.
When you’re really feeling low, leaving the house, talking to others or being an otherwise productive member of society doesn’t just feel hard, it feels downright impossible. That doesn’t change the importance, though. While we’re not suggesting you throw a fundraiser or give away all your Earthly possessions, we are suggesting you find a way to be kind to someone. Maybe it’s simply buying an extra Big Mac for the houseless person on the street. Or, perhaps, you help someone simply by texting a friend who you know has been or still is in a similar situation. Saying, “This sucks, right?” is often enough to make that person feel less alone. When they respond, you’ll feel that same camaraderie. We created a list of kindness activities you can do (with or without kiddos) – most cost very little money and require zero commitment. Since being in a slump often leads to us being flakey, no commitment is a good thing. See if making someone else smile can make you feel better, too.
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