I woke up a total train wreck one day recently. I was in a serious funk. Unusual, for me (luckily). Physically, it felt like I was moving in quicksand. Mentally, I was fogged in. All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch. I had no desire to engage with the outside world. And yet…
There were things to be done – I had a list! It was a beautiful day outside. But I just. wasn’t. feeling it. End of story.
I was exhausted and cranky. I drank some coffee. Then I drank some more. It didn’t help.
Tempted to cave in and hibernate, I reassessed my ‘to do’ list and then scrapped it. Instead, I decided to practice a little self-care. My new list contained things that I needed to do in order to take care of myself.
Many of us are much better at caring for others than we are at meeting our own needs. We drop everything, in a heartbeat, when one of the kids need us, or a friend. Why then, are we so reluctant to grant ourselves the same priority status?
Full speed ahead!
Fueled with determination, I thought about the things that needed to be done in order for me to forge ahead and feel better. I drank a big bottle of water, in case I was dehydrated. I ate something healthy (two pieces of fruit). I got in the car, opened the sunroof and blasted some mood-elevating music (Susan Tedeschi).
I went to Market Basket. (Exciting, I know). But I eat healthy and needed to restock, fearing a foul mood might lead to self-pity, which might lead to eating potato chips and ice cream for lunch. And I needed to know that I was being productive by doing something that needed doing, like grocery shopping. They play good music at my Market Basket, so I usually sing my way up and down the aisles.
Now boarding, on track 9
Next, I took a long big walk (just me and the gypsy moth caterpillars). Although it was my usual, two-mile route, each little hill was excruciating. Everything hurt and I was out of breath. But I pushed myself. I knew (hoped) that it would clear my head. It also kicked ass, but I felt better.
After I showered off the sweat, bug spray and caterpillar poop, I felt pretty good about my day (so far). Still completely fatigued, there was one more thing I needed to do: Practice my fiddle lesson. I was so tired that I could barely hold the instrument, so I set my goal at twenty minutes. Okay, fifteen. Whatever. After a few minutes, I noticed that my teacher had written a note at the bottom of the piece. It said, “You go, girl!” I smiled, perhaps for the first time all day. (The universe gives us what we need.) I practiced for thirty minutes.
Had it been a winter day instead of late spring, I may have succumbed to the nearly paralyzing funk. It would have been easy to justify, even on a warm, sunny June day. I could have blamed my allergies, insomnia or any other infirmity. I could have had the perfect excuse to binge-watch On Demand movies and eat junk food. But I refused to give in to it. I had the foresight to look ahead, to the end of the day, and think about how I would feel, as opposed to how I could feel.
Think about what things might pull you out of such a funk. We all have low days, when we can’t find our groove. Sometimes, our bodies or our psyches are sending a clear message and we need to listen. A day on the couch isn’t always a bad idea. But I knew that I’d regret it, this time. I pushed thru it. I fueled my body with good food and lots of water. I got some exercise as well as fresh air and sunshine (and insect byproducts). I filled the refrigerator with healthy food. I practiced.
Back on track
What makes you feel comforted and cared for? Have a repertoire of self-care activities available for those ‘off’ days. Otherwise, it’s hard to get motivated. The chips and ice cream will beckon. The couch will whisper your name seductively. Fight thru it!
My days are precious, with not nearly enough hours to do all the things that I want to do. Wasting it was just not acceptable. I might have faced disappointment and self-loathing at the end of the day. Instead, I felt rejuvenated and self-satisfied. Bravo for me!