I sometimes have days where I just wake up tired, my legs feel like lead and I don’t have any ambition for the day. The child in me just wants to lay around all day and do nothing. Some people will say, “Go ahead and ride out the slump. It’s ok to have a bad day every once in a while.” I have found this is not an effective solution. Whenever I try to “ride out the slump” it ends up turning into days and weeks and I get behind on my life! This tends to unmotivate me and brings on depression in a bad way.
I’ve found that it is much more effective for me to work on getting out of a slump before that slump takes over my life. Depression prevention is much more effective that depression treatment. While not all instances of depression are preventable, I have found 10 ways to keep myself in check and help me to avoid going down that slippery slope.
When I feel absolutely exhausted these days, it usually means I’m sleep deprived. Even an hour of sleep deprivation has a huge effect on me. Since I know this is a trigger for my depression, I try to guard my sleep like the treasure it is. However, there are still nights where I’m up several times with scared or sick kids or I get to bed late because my husband and I can’t stop chatting after a week of hardly seeing each other.
When I can pinpoint sleep deprivation as the root cause to a slump, I lovingly give myself permission to sleep in, go to bed early, or take a nap when needed. Long gone are the days where I try to white-knuckle it through the day on less than adequate sleep. It drives my anxiety through the roof when I do that and ultimately, it only decreases my and my family’s quality of life when I am not well rested.
Check how rested you are and if you know sleep deprivation is your problem, make a plan to get more sleep. If insomnia is a problem for you, study it out and ask your doctor for help.
2. Get hydrated
Most of us don’t drink enough water. Dehydration carries with it a slew of problems that are actually similar to sleep deprivation. Make it a goal to drink plenty of water, more than normal, each day. When you notice you feel like you’re in a slump, immediately reach for a glass of water. Sometimes the mental fog we feel can be greatly reduced just by hydrating ourselves.
If you don’t particularly like water and you’re trying to hydrate yourself solely on diet coke, get a grip. Soda is not the same as water when it comes to hydration and can even have the opposite effect and dehydrate you. Make water more enjoyable by adding a little slice of lemon, essential oil drops, or buy an infuser to add all different kinds of flavors to your water.
3. Move outside
Laying on the couch and ruminating about being in a slump will most likely never get you out of it. If you want to change you’re going to have to move. Get up and go outside. Go for a walk if you can, even if it’s just doing laps around your house. The fresh air, sunshine, and movement will change your physical state in a big way.
4. Play with kids
If you get up and go outside, take your kids with you and play for a little while! I swear, when my kids are laughing and having fun, I can’t not be in a better mood. Even if you can’t stand the thought of moving your lifeless body around and playing with your kids, promise yourself you’ll do it for only 5 minutes and then you give yourself permission to stop. Chances are, 5 minutes will either be enough or you’ll lose track of time.
Focus on those little faces and how they light up when you suggest playing together. I can’t stand seeing the bored look on my toddler’s face when I can’t seem to do anything with myself. I feel like the crappiest mother of all time. When I start to play with her, my whole mood changes. It doesn’t have to be super physical if you just can’t muster the energy, but even a little hand clapping game can be fun and distract your mind.
5. Eat a snack
Sometimes our energy is low because we legitimately need fuel. If we consciously try to refuel our bodies with healthy snacks, it can give us the energy boost we need.
Focus snacks on complex carbs and protein to avoid an energy slump later on in the day. Some good ideas are: hummus and red peppers or carrots, small green salad with meat, hard-boiled egg, or a small amount of trail mix.
6. Listen to fun music
Nothing boosts my energy more than fun, fast-paced music. I used to listen to music constantly when I was younger. Now I usually prefer to listen to silence if I have the chance to listen to anything. But every once in a while I turn on some music and it immediately busts through my fog. Extra credit if you dance with your kids while listening
7. Set one very small goal
It’s easy to fall into a slump when we feel overwhelmed. For me, that’s because I have a lot of aspirations and goals in my mind but if I stop and look at everything I need or want to do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and give up completely.
If I force myself to write one small thing on a To-Do List, it gives me a sense of empowerment when I accomplish that. For example, when I’m overwhelmed because my house is disgusting, I will set one small goal related to that. It might be, “do the dishes” or even just “gather all the dishes and put them in the sink.” I always give myself permission to stop after that one small goal if I want to, but usually it empowers me to keep going.
The goal is to get yourself to do something, ANYTHING! By giving yourself permission to stop after that one goal if you want to, you at least get something done and that will help improve your outlook for the day.
8. Write out a gratitude list
Nothing busts through negativity like gratitude. Maybe your one small goal will be to write 10 things you are truly grateful for. As you write them, think about people you know or know of who don’t have the things you do. This will reinforce your gratitude because it shows us that having a roof over your head or little humans to snuggle at night are not just a given in this life, they are a gift.
The mere acknowledgement of these blessings can take your mood to a whole new level. Make this a daily ritual and you’re on your way to a much more positive life.
9. Connect with a friend
Companionship is important in life. We thrive on feeling part of something bigger. When you connect to a friend it’s hard not to change your frame of mind.
You can text them, meet up for a walk or lunch, or just talk on the phone. Try talking to them about their life and asking meaningful questions. This is a great distraction from your own lack of focus and just might motivate you to do something productive.
10. Do a small service
Anytime you can get yourself out of your own head and to focus on helping someone else, you are bound to make big changes in your mood. Get the kids involved and make some cookies for a neighbor, dinner for an elderly couple, a card for a sick friend, or a basket of baby stuff for a new mom.
Doing service helps us to notice the blessings in our own lives and boosts our gratitude which also boosts our mood. Service gives us a purpose outside of our own selfish desires and blesses others while changing our mindset.
If you can catch yourself before you start falling down that slippery slope of depression, you are much more likely to come out of it than if you try to “ride it out.” Talking yourself into doing just about anything other than obsessing over your unproductive day can help you to snap out of it before it’s too late.
If you find that after trying these suggestions you still haven’t seen any improvement and it persists for a couple of weeks, consider seeing your doctor to study out other options.
Don’t let depression rule your life and rob you of the joy we are meant to have while on this earth.
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What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?