When the Slump Moves In

DrSeuss
Dr. Seuss

Every few months I go through a slump. This slump consists of an indefinite amount of time where my creative meter lies at zero, and I have absolutely no energy or motivation for anything. These are the kind of days where Pringles substitute your meals because the mere thought of getting up to open the fridge and look for actual food to make feels like running a 5k.

In case you were wondering- as I write this, it’s 2:30pm…and I’m still in my pajamas. Today is not a gloomy, gray day (which, if you ask me, is just how the Universe recommends that you stay in, wrap yourself in blankets & catch up on TV). Today is a solid, sunny, 85° day. There are zero clouds in sight, and the weather could not be more inviting. But I have no interest. I’m bored, but I don’t want to do anything. What a paradox.

Still, I’m not discouraged, because I know very well that after every slump follows a huge rush of energy. It’s as if this moment of nothingness provides a hibernation zone for all my vitality. My assumption is that all of those suppressed ideas and compressed energy build up to a point where they can’t be contained anymore. But the only indication I get that the slump is over is that I wake up one morning and I want to do stuff. All of a sudden I find myself power cleaning my home, running all my errands, and wanting to catch up on everything I missed while I was mentally “out of the office.” All of these ideas come pouring out of my mind, and I get excited with the potential for them. But I proceed cautiously knowing that the gray clouds will eventually roll in again. Here’s the thing: I don’t want to focus on that anymore, and I don’t want to give this dull, colorless mood any more authority.

To be entirely honest, I’m still feeling very bleh. However, now,  I’m trying to be a little more proactive about things. See, my normal tendency is to just “wait it out” since I know it’s a matter of time before it’ll pass. I let my slump dictate when it’s time for me to get back into things. This time, there’s this little ball of fire burning in the midst of all this lackluster gray that’s telling me that maybe there is a way to speed things up.

I’ve seen posts that talk about what to do when you’re in a slump. They often read: Find Inspiration!, Go Outside and Get Moving!, Book a Fun Date! These recommendations are all fine & dandy, but not entirely realistic. If I’m in such a deep slump that I’m googling how to get out of it, booking a fun date is probably last on my list. However, there is a constant factor in those “helpful tips,” and that is to do something. I’m not so sure it will cure the slump, but it will help you pass the time as it moseys on through. It’s more of an active waiting vs. an idle waiting.

Interestingly enough, this blog post is my first step in practicing this “active patience.” My lack of motivation to write has been so predominant lately. I feel uninspired, like I have nothing to say or write about, and so I choose to not even try.
What’s something you’ve been putting off until you’re in a better mood? I challenge you to start tackling the task. You don’t have to complete it, but maybe just starting will help you. Baby steps are very encouraged here- they might just help make this waiting game less frustrating.

So, this is my advice for you: make at least one goal to conquer every day. It can be as simple as making sure you wash your face, or go grocery shopping. If there is one thing that constantly stays on your mind as you wobble through this slumpy muck, like “man, I can’t wait to read ___” or “I’ve been wanting to do ____, but I can’t because ___,” try to break that big action into little steps. For example, maybe now, you can buy that book you’ve been wanting to read- you don’t have to read it- but now you’ll have it as inspiration, or at the very least, it will be in your possession once you’re ready. Or if you’ve been wanting to write (ehem, me), maybe you can start a few drafts just to get ideas rolling. If you’ve been wanting to work out again, but can’t find yourself to commit- take the stairs, or do some squats as you brush your teeth. Doing anything will always be better than doing nothing- and you will feel better about it.

And another helpful tidbit: waking up early can help you 1. be productive, and 2. make you feel like you’re being productive (even if you’re not). I watched a video from a former Monk who was speaking about the importance of waking up early (he mentioned 4am, but whoa, let’s not get too crazy). I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to start doing so tomorrow. My goal is to wake up at 6am every day. So starting now, I’ll be waking up 15 minutes earlier, and going down each week, until I get to 6am and build a routine.

I think it’s important to realize that you can’t be functioning on 100% every single day. Some people might want to instinctively take on more to combat this dreariness, but remember: taking on too much, or trying to accomplish all your goals at once, can overwhelm you and send you into a funk too.
Be patient, but keep it moving. Don’t let yourself stay stagnant.

 

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