I am generally a very positive person. I write a lot on this blog about ways to live better and be happier, and virtually everything I post on Facebook and Twitter is intended to inspire or deliver some kind of value to whoever might be reading. Sometimes I think I might come across as this holier-than-thou individual who lives a flawless life, but, of course, that’s far from the truth. I have my demons and I have my struggles, just like everyone else.
I find myself falling into a slump every now and then, downswings which are far from that pristine image I might sometimes project. Thankfully, they have become fewer and further between, and I believe that’s because I’ve discovered a few tricks to beat such skids. Here are six of them:
1. Write it out
Have a conversation with yourself. Sit down with a pen and paper, or at your computer, and ask yourself why you’re feeling down. You’re not looking for a solution necessarily, but just to express how you’re feeling. Get it out of your head and down in words. If it makes you feel better, burn the page or delete the file when you’re done.
2. Spend time with friends
Sometimes, when you’re in a slump, it’s good to be alone. But other times it helps to be around good people. Even if you don’t talk about how you’re feeling, but just hang out and shoot the breeze, that’s better than wallowing at home alone in your own misery. The more positive and energetic your friends are, the better.
3. Brighten someone else’s day
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” – Mark Twain
If you’re in a funk, forget about yourself and focus on someone else. Send an e-mail to your favorite teacher back in the day, telling them how much you still appreciate what they taught you. Or go to a coffee shop and pay it backward. Just do something to bring a smile to another person’s face, and you’re likely to bring a smile back to your own.
4. Give thanks
This is something I all too often forget about when I’m feeling down. It’s hard to pause and give thanks when you’re preoccupied with what’s wrong or what’s missing. But if you can, you’ll notice it makes a big difference.
Consider something like your eyesight. We so often take it for granted, even at the best of times. But if you can take a step back and just appreciate for a moment how lucky we are to have the gift of sight, how much easier it makes our lives, how much beauty it allows us to witness… if you can really feel that appreciation and let the gratitude resonate through you… it’s not hard to feel better after that.
5. Use it as a learning experience
Prevention is better than cure. Whenever I find myself in a slump now, I try to identify what it was that got me there, whether one event or a sequence of events. If I can pinpoint that trigger, I can take steps to avoid pulling it in future. For example, it has become very obvious to me that most of my downswings come after a night of excessive drinking, so now I limit myself to one beer per hour and avoid those slumps completely.
And lastly, if all else fails…
6. Realize that it will pass
Everything comes and everything goes. I used to freak out when I was feeling down, feeling like I had to do something urgently to fix the problem. That only made it worse. It’s much better to accept the downswing and realize that it will eventually pass. Just give it time.