Last week I was feeling glum and frustrated. I was a bit down on myself because I felt that I was getting nowhere with my goals. I was having trouble finding time to do the things that were important to me in amongst work, house duties, family responsibilities and down time. I felt restless and anxious all the time. I’m feeling a bit better now, and I thought that I would share some of the things that I’ve been doing to get myself out of this slump.
Lower your expectations.
It seems as though most of us feel pressured to be the very best that we can be. We push ourselves to work hard, and feel guilty for taking time out. We expect that our days will be filled with productive tasks which will quickly be rewarded by the achievement of our dreams. We believe that we should be able to be perpetually young and gorgeous, with beautiful homes, successful careers, a roaring social life, a romantic love life and a loving family. In reality though, it’s incredibly difficult to keep all these balls in the air at once. You’re going to have days when you feel run down, and would rather slob on the couch than do anything productive. You’re going to have bad hair days, or days when you make mistakes at work. You’re going to have evenings when you decide to have take-away for dinner rather than cooking a delicious and healthy meal. You’re going to skip the gym sometimes in favour of spending more time with your friends, your family or your boyfriend. And that’s O.K. Although we’re all awesome, none of us are Super-woman, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be. Lower your expectations to a more realistic level, and feel the tension shift.
Change the way you talk to yourself.
I find that when I’m feeling stressed and pressured, the language I use in my self-talk becomes frightful. I’ll internally berate myself for my mistakes. I’ll call myself a lazy slob if I decide to spend an hour on the couch instead of working. I convince myself that I’m a total failure and that everything I’m doing is wrong. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when your inner voice is having a free-for-all with your emotions. Think carefully about the way you speak to yourself. Write down the typical things you say about yourself. Now, turn them around. Instead of telling yourself that you’re being lazy when you take a break from work, congratulate yourself for taking some quiet time. Rather than doubting your abilities, focus on the things you’re good at. Regularly encourage yourself and give yourself little pep talks. If you do make a mistake, acknowledge it, and then think about what you’ve learned from the experience. Be gentle with yourself, and speak to yourself the way you’d talk to your closest friend.
Make a ta-da list
One of the things that has been getting me down lately is my ever-growing to-do list. When you have a list of tasks you’re yet to accomplish, which never seems to diminish, you can easily start to feel like you’re not doing anything. If, no matter how hard you feel you’re working, the list never gets any smaller, you might start to doubt whether you’re actually making any progress at all.
Basically, a ta-da list is the things you’ve accomplished that day, rather than the things you have left to do. It can really help to put things into perspective and show you how much progress you’re actually making.
Allow yourself to disregard other people’s expectations.
Sometimes, other people’s opinions can be very useful. As a writer, I’m often giving my work to other people for feedback, or bouncing ideas back and forth with others. However, a lot of the time, focussing on what people think about us or expect of us can be damaging to our self-view and self-worth. We can begin to feel crushed under the weight of what people expect from us, and feel like we’re never living up to those expectations. Although it can be difficult, it’s important to start to disentangle yourself from the binds of these pressures. In your life, the only person you have to answer to is you. You make all of your decisions, and you know what’s best. You’re never going to be able to please everyone else, so I think it’s better to live a life that feels true to you, and not worry about the expectations of others. It’s important to realise that the people closest to us usually have hopes and dreams for us, only because they adore us and they want us to be happy. They probably aren’t trying to make you feel shitty about your choices, even if that’s the end result. So, next time you find yourself feeling caught up in what another person thinks of you, take a step back and ask yourself how you feel about the situation. If you need to, calmly explain to the other person why you’ve made the choice you have. Always remember that in your life, your needs are paramount, and you are the person who best knows how to meet those needs.
Write it down
I find putting pen to paper and writing down my feelings can be really helpful. Sometimes, you’re so anxious that your feelings and thoughts are all in a muddle, and it’s hard to make heads or tails of anything. Writing things down helps me to organize my thoughts, identify patterns of thinking and express frustrations, fears and annoyances. I felt so much better after I’d written that blog post last week. You don’t have to make your writing public, just jotting things down in a journal or a scrap piece of paper can be very cathartic. Be honest with yourself and write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t try to edit it or make it sound pretty, just write until you feel empty. You’ll feel better and things will seem a bit clearer.
Do one thing each day that’s just for you
When we have so many responsibilities, it can begin to feel like we’re losing touch with who we are each day. If it feels as though your day is swamped with meeting the demands of others, we can start feeling as though we don’t have any time for ourselves. That’s why I believe in taking the time each day to do a single thing that’s just for you. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It could be wearing a piece of jewellery or a hairstyle that makes you feel incredible. It could be taking a wonderful book to work to read during your lunch hour. It could be taking a bath with scrumptious essential oils in the evening and then slipping into some beautiful pyjamas. Whatever it is, carve out a bit of time each day to do something that makes you feel like ‘you’. If possible, try to squeeze in a few things just for you.
The best things in life take time to develop. Most of us don’t get our dream career after a single week of working towards it. Relationships and friendships take time to develop and grow. We might spend years and years saving to buy that dream home or that special trip. When you’re feeling down though, you might just wish these things would hurry up and get here already! I often feel frustrated at the slow pace my life seems to be progressing, even though it feels I’m working my butt off. Be patient, and remind yourself that awesome things tend to unfold slowly, and that things that happen over time tend to last longer than instantaneous changes. Reassure yourself that your work is not for nothing, and that each day brings you one step closer to that coveted dream.
Do you have any tips for overcoming the Kozmic Blues? If you do, I’d love to hear them!