Have you ever felt bummed out? Even on your birthday?
My birthday was last week and I felt exactly that. Bummed out! It started a couple of days before my birthday and continued for a couple of days after it. I was off. Feeling dark. Going darker with each passing day. On my actual birthday, it was difficult for me to smile. And that feeling lingered into the weekend.
What was it? Was my birthday one of significance? Like a milestone birthday? No, it wasn’t. Lately, birthdays are times for reflecting. What am I doing with my life? How am I doing compared to my potential? Am I where I thought I would be at this point in my life? Etc. When faced with those questions I didn’t like the answers coming to my head. I felt lost. Frustrated. A failure. And a host of other negative emotions. It wasn’t pleasant and I fell into a slump.
I was bummed out. Not 'Prozac' kind of depressed. But I wasn’t doing well. I was listless. Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Not very Divalicious. Why do I tell you this? For you to feel sorry for me? For attention? No. I tell you because I’m ordinary. Like everyone else. I have bad days. This was a particularly bad stretch. I needed to work to get myself out of it. And that is what I want to share with you. Because it was work that worked. Here I am – the answers to my birthday questions are still the same. Yet I'm still here and moving forward. It's not rocket science by any means. It's all been said before. But for the first time in my life, I made conscious choices to pull myself out of my funk. And they worked.
So what did I do?
The first thing I did was look at what I was feeding myself. Not food, although I have to admit my sugar intake was through the roof last week. I’m not a sugar fanatic by any means, but last week? I was like a 5-year-old in a Candy Store. I had zero control. But in asking what was I feeding myself, I meant what was I feeding myself on an emotional level?
The world is crazy right now. There are things going on in it that are heartbreaking. I find the frustration and feelings of helplessness overwhelming at times. My social media feed is full of it. I have been active. Speaking up. Making my voice heard amidst the chaos. But it was taking its toll on me. I read some particularly awful comments online. My faith in humanity hit an all-time low. I asked myself "What was the point?".
I realized a few days into my ‘bummed out session’ that I needed to take a break from it all. Regroup. Refuel. Rest. I needed to disconnect from the nasty and reconnect with humanity again. The good kind of humanity. The majority...I hope. So. My step one.
1. Detox my Media
I’m taking a break. I removed Facebook from my smartphone. There is a wonderful browser extension called “Facebook Purity – or Fluff Busters” that I use on my desktop. Once installed, you can enter words or phrases that you no longer want to see on your Facebook feed along with a host of other useful tools. My list is long. But my feed – although at times boring - is now full of cat stories. Tasty Videos. Uplifting stories. And content from pages that I liked ages ago, but never saw anything from. (Thank you silly Facebook Algorithm).
I decided my television/movie watching could use some lightening up for a while. A little less violence. A little more laughs and uplift. The murders would be the Midsomer kind - that's fine by me. A friend told me of the Mr. Rogers Documentary. It's now on my must-see list.
I won’t detox forever as there are too many important things going on that need attention and our voices en masse. But for now, the break has been welcome. Not filling my head with all the nasty. The constant negative. It wears on you after a while. In the meantime, I listen to new artists. I watch dance videos. Crazy cats or dogs doing crazy things. I read uplifting stories. And cooking videos galore. It’s good. Peaceful. I felt myself calming as soon as I made the changes.
To keep on top of the news I subscribed to Skimm. It gives me a quick version of what is going on in the world (mostly from a US point of view – I wish there was a Canadian version). And it gives you weekends off. But that’s it for now. Other than that I stay away from the news.
2. Lose Control
I can’t control the world. The people around me. Nor circumstances.
There are only two things I can control. My thoughts and my actions.
That’s it. Once I realized that I decided to work on those two things.
When we look back on our lives, regrets come from our non-action not from what we didn't do. If we do something and fail at it – those are mistakes. We seem to be able to get over those. But when we do nothing – that becomes an issue. I know for me that is the case. So when I was feeling lost and listless. When I was feeling like I wasn’t living up to my potential. I asked myself whether I was taking the action needed to change that? Or did I want to continue to wallow?
I wanted to wallow – truth be told.
But if I continued, I knew I would be still wallowing in a week. So I said to myself “Who cares if half the day is gone and wasted? The rest of the day doesn’t have to be.” And I just started. I made the bed. I went for a walk. I came home and cleaned up for 15 minutes. I started taking action with things that usually make me feel better. I allowed myself to take the weekend off of work. I read a novel. I made a nice dinner. I did some errands and put a smile on my face while I was doing them. I chose.
I changed my thoughts. When I noticed a negative thought come through my head I replaced it with a more positive one. I made a conscious effort. Feeding my brain with more positive and uplifting thoughts was huge. I could feel the darkness breaking and the light creeping through.
3. Gratitude Attitude
This falls in line with changing my thought patterns. We’ve all heard it a million times but practicing gratitude is a big deal. While being kind to myself, I took time to sit out on the balcony. One of my favourite things to do. I'd drink my morning coffee. Another favourite thing to do. I didn’t plan my day. I didn’t think about what happened the day before. I tried to be present. I noticed the birds. The sky. The warmth of the sun on my skin. The taste of the coffee. The cat purring. I was grateful for the moment in its simplicity. Grateful for what I have and where I live. I looked at my home, and although its old and in need of a coat of paint. Even though my couch needed replacing about 4 years ago. I thought – it looks nice. Like a home. It's pretty in its own way. Thank you. In other words, I began to appreciate what I had.
4. Reach out
When I was feeling really down I reached out. I talked to my daughter. I talked to a dear friend. I told them I was down. Feeling discouraged. A failure. They encouraged me. Reminded me of the impact that I do have. They stood beside me. They lifted me up. They comforted me. They gave me strength. They showed me light in the darkness.
5. Take Action
As stated earlier there are only two things I am in control of. My thoughts and my actions. I gave myself a couple of days of kindness and regrouping. I fed my soul with good things. Then I got to work. Regrets come from inaction – so – I needed to take action.
- I asked myself what my goals are?
- What can I do now to achieve them?
- Write out a step-by-step doable plan.
And then I started.
I learned something life changing lessons this weekend. The change was slow, but with each passing hour, I began to feel a little more like me. Nothing on the outside had altered. But on the inside the transformation was huge.
Here is what I learned in a nutshell -
- It’s OK to step back and regroup.
- Garbage in IS Garbage out.
- It’s OK to feel bad about life.
- It’s OK to be kind to yourself.
- The power of our thoughts is gigantic.
- Letting go of control is freeing.
- Giving yourself time to rebuild is fine. Just not forever.
- The action is where your happiness lies.
So, after much reflection, I’m feeling better. My social media feed is still full of Tasty Videos – and I’m fine with that for now. I am a little kinder to myself. I’m working on my plan for the next 6 months – and will make it doable. And – guess what? My smile is back. I'm calmer. More like me. Life isn’t a bummer anymore. It’s fine as a matter of fact.
I realized one more thing – it’s all part of a Divalicious Life.
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