Un-slumping Yourself is Not Easily Done
The holiday cheer is put away. The resolutions are made, the excitement of the New Year’s beginning is over. January is a couple weeks in and suddenly everything has become well, blah.
It’s slump-time! I don’t know why I never remember that once January gets started in earnest I always fall into a slump: it’s like a pothole in the middle of the road that I never see until I’m in it. Am I the only one?
Apparently I’m not. It appears this is a normal phenomenon…the twinkly wonder of the holiday buildup and the excitement of the New Year’s climax all lead directly to this extraordinarily ORDINARY-ness that feels like a let down. (No wonder New Year’s resolutions only last a week or two.)
Combine that with this last year and the last couple weeks and well, that pothole starts looking like the Grand Canyon.
Even winter seems to conspire against us as well, January often being dreary and gray.
But how to get back into gear? How do we push through the struggle? To get re-motivated to actually accomplish all those things we planned for a few weeks ago?
How do you find joy when you are having trouble finding motivation?
I’ve been slumping hard this last week. And as I’ve slumped around the house I’ve thought some thoughts about what to do to try to uncover my enthusiasm for, well anything.
I’ve been trying to reframe the slumping…I decided it was a great opportunity to practice what I’ve been preaching. But I needed to figure out how to emerge from my own slump before I could give you any ideas. LOL So an intentional experiment on myself, then.
I started researching some and thinking about what has worked for me in the past. (This is a few decades of therapy hard at work just for you.) Here is what I came up with (in an acronym even. I’m impressed with myself a little, not gonna lie).
When you find yourself in a slump, it’s time to:
Mentally willing yourself into a different place might work for someone but it has never worked for me. Getting still, taking a deep breath and accepting that this is where I am at the moment is a much more productive approach. (Even if where I am is in my bathrobe.) And while the moment is a bit, well, slump-ish, it’s not a permanent address. We have been here before and have emerged. We will again. Instead of denying the feelings, we just say, “Hi, I see you over there. Don’t get too comfortable”.
Test the Triggers.
Step two, ask yourself: am I staying up too late? What am I eating? (Cue too many cookies. Sigh.) When was the last time I got off the couch? When did I shower last? And most importantly, what have I been doing?
I love binge-watching shows with Mr. Perfect, but sometimes, especially when they are intense or super-suspenseful, too much of that puts me in a weird funk. Same goes with binge-reading, binge-games-on-my-phone, doom-scrolling…you see a pattern here.
Figuring out what your personal triggers are might seem like a chore, but it will be valuable information to help you make some shifts to intentionally improve your motivation and mindset.
Some adjustments I try to make: going to bed at a reasonable hour, eating a vegetable, getting off my phone, changing the sheets on my bed.
Also: quickest pick-me-up ever? A hot shower. Your mom was right.
(A hot shower PLUS clean sheets = happiness.)
Optimize the Input.
I don’t know why I have to keep reminding myself that ‘What you put in is what you get back out’. And motivation and inspiration are sort of like Vitamin C…they don’t accumulate in the system-they require constant renewal. You have to keep putting in the good stuff for it to keep having a positive effect.
This re-visits the binge-behaviour. If all I am putting in my head is mindless phone games or angsty tv shows, should I really be surprised that I feel mindless and angsty? I need to put some good stuff in there instead.
So what is the good stuff for you?
My good stuff is positive music, devotional & inspirational reading, positive words.
Making gratitude lists.
Sunshine & Puppy kisses.
Reminding myself of the person I want to be; looking at other people who are exhibiting the qualities I want to reflect.
Try actively inputting what you want to see output in your life.
Surround yourself with inspiration and you might find yourself inspired.
This one is pretty obvious…but you can’t reach out to just anyone. It has to be someone who isn’t going to just commiserate about how awful January is and how horrible the world is right now and how gray the weather is, blah blah blah.
It has to be someone who says, Yep, things are harder this month. (This year?) And moves on to some good stuff. (See O above.) Someone who is invested in bringing you up not down. Think Cheerleader not Dreamcrusher.
Kickstart with action.
Motivation is a tease. It’s the cute boy who says he is going to call but never does.
So stop waiting by the phone for motivation to call and go out on a date with action.
(Make it simple.)
Take a walk.
Take a shower.
Make a list.
Make a call. (You mom wants to hear from you.)
Do a chore.
Write a blog post.
Bake a cake. (Yum.)
Do one thing.
Then do another thing.
String enough little actions together and e..v..e..n..t..u..a..l..l..y the things will generate a tiny bit of momentum and you will be rolling on.
Motivation will show up after you start going out with Action. (He will be jealous.)
Sometimes joy likes to play hide-and-seek with us. And when we feel trapped in a slumpy pothole it is hard to get in the game.
But slumps can be valuable opportunities to learn some new stuff about ourselves and become better armed for the next pothole we encounter on this road of life.
So Take S.T.O.C.K. with me and let’s leave Slumpsville in the dust.
The bright places where the Boom Bands are playing are just ahead.
I’ll race you.
Please note: if making the normal adjustments are not helping, it might be time to check in with a doctor or therapist. One of the bravest things you can do is admit when you don’t have all the answers. Because you don’t. Neither do I. No one does. So go ask a professional who might have the answer you need!