It is a fact of life that we all experience dips in our enthusiasm from time to time. It’s unavoidable as we all get hungry, tired, over-worked, stressed and frustrated. Some of us deal with depression, bipolar, PTSD, phobias, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, prescription addiction, alcoholism, mood disorders and other challenges that keep us entrenched in anxiety, fear and self-loathing. Maybe you have none of those and still feel thwarted for one reason or another and need to recharge your battery.
For the most part, I’m a positive person who gets excited about things, even small things that might seem insignificant or too ordinary to get excited about, like creating a piece of art or experimenting with a few of my favorite ingredients. Yet, too often I find myself in dark, desperate, dismal moments when my positive outlook abandons me. Sometimes it’s because I’m hungry or dehydrated or feel worried about something I can’t control.
The funny thing about me is that I can say to myself, Nothing really matters because we’re all going to die someday. Why do anything? Then five minutes later, the same epiphany results in the opposite reaction: Oh no! I’m going to die someday. There are so many things I want to do while I’m alive!
And that’s what gets me here, thinking about what I can do to self-soothe for longer than five minutes when I could possibly revert back to the negative, lazy approach to the realization of my mortality. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with that actually work.
Solve a problem.
(Huh? A problem? Which problem? There are so many. The economy? Racism? The National debt?)
While there are plenty of identifiable problems like these, I know I can’t solve any of them. And unless you’re a politician of some sort, you probably can’t either. I’m talking about a problem you are actually responsible for fixing, something you actually have real control of that would make a difference in your daily life if you could remove it from the “problem” category.
What’s hanging over your head? Maybe there’s something or someone you’ve been avoiding, a relationship that needs fixing or ending. Check!
Could it be a phone call you’ve been forgetting to make? Maybe you need a new piece of technology that would improve your productivity. I’ve got my new iphone6.
Maybe you need to clean up your workspace. Whatever it is, identify it and conquer it. Start by making a list of grievances no matter how small or insignificant they might appear to an outsider.
Change your scenery. Go outside.
Really? I have so much work to do and none of it can be completed outside! If you had told me to do that last week before I quit my landscaping job things would be different. But now…?
Seriously, not too many people spend all that much time outside during the week. If you’re cooped up and wonder if anyone would notice if you crawled in a hole for the rest of the day, it’s probably because you need fresh air to clear your head. Chances are they won’t notice if you do that either. Even if you spend 15 minutes walking around outside, it’ll make a difference for the Vitamin D, oxygen and break you give yourself from doing whatever you’re doing inside that mildly resembles suffocation. If it’s possible, open the windows for some fresh air while you’re working.
If you happen to be a landscaper, take an indoor break. The idea is to shift your focus.
Make plans to have fun.
Fun? What’s that? It sounds vaguely familiar. Is that what I was doing in the ‘80s? Whatever it is, I probably have no time for it now.
OK, so maybe it’s Wednesday (it is for me!) and the weekend feels too far away. That’s OK. Text a friend and make at least one date to do that thing that gives you goosebumps, makes you laugh or gives you breathing room like nothing else. What would do it for me? A trip to the comedy club. A little laughter goes a long way. A lot of laughter is the gift that keeps on giving if you can remember the jokes.
Buy yourself some music.
Since this recommendation rarely elicits any back-talk, all we need to discuss is the fact that you may need something new to help you recharge. Music is like laughter in its medicinal properties and one can never have too much good music to listen to, especially in dismal times. It can change your mood in an instant, which you have experienced over and over again. Case closed.
Complete a task that’s been on your to-do list for too long.
But the reason it’s on my list and won’t go away is because I can’t do it until someone else does something first. Then pick another one. I’m sure there’s more than one. There are always one or two annoying little things I’m not looking forward to---like calling my accountant about my taxes or making a doctor’s appointment that involves a bit too much probing for my liking. Whatever it is, stop avoiding the inevitable and do it! Jump ahead and imagine the moment after it’s done and how you’ll feel. If it’s particularly gruesome, try using number 4 to get you through. And remember, music is medicine!