A few days ago, I wrote a post explaining how apathetic and “nothing” I was feeling. I wasn’t unhappy, I was just feeling empty. I didn’t know what to expect when I posted it — it was so much less positive than my usual posts — and I can’t begin to tell you how touched I was by the responses I received.
It turns out I’m not the only one who has days (weeks… months… years…) like that.
And people had suggestions on how to feel better. Good suggestions. Suggestions I possibly would have thought of myself if I hadn’t been feeling so incredibly overwhelmed by the world. So I put a few of them into practice.
You’ll be glad (probably) to know that I’m back to my usual manic, enthusiastic, excited self.
So I thought I’d Pay it Forward, as it were, and put together all of the wonderful suggestions I received, as well as a few of my own. I hope this is of some help to someone else out there feeling hollow and disillusioned and struggling to find a modicum of energy.
1. Rest & Relax
In today’s busy, busy world, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with responsibilities — many of which we take on out of guilt, obligation, or expectation. It’s easy to forget that we also have a responsibility to ourselves. Taking time to rest and relax is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. So if you’re feeling empty and drained, make sure you’re taking time to fulfill your obligations to yourself as well as your obligations to others.
Read a book, watch a movie, go out with friends, have a long bath, drink a bottle (or box) of wine, go for a walk, listen to music, dance in your underwear, sing in the shower, do some finger painting (by yourself, not with the kids), do something you’ve always wanted to do and never had the time for, or just go to bed and sleep.
2. Rejuvenate Your Body & Soul
Another side-effect of being busy is that we tend to spend so much time looking after other people (especially when we’ve got kids), that we forget to take care of our own physical needs. But just because we’re parents, and we’ve got important jobs, and we’re trying to work a day job and write a novel and blog and find time to actually see our partners, friends, and extended families, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to eat, sleep, and connect with something greater than ourselves.
Make sure you sleep 7-8 hours every night. (I know it’s hard!) Did you know that when you don’t get enough sleep, your body craves more sugar and carbs, which causes you to over-eat and eat unhealthy foods? Did you know that when you don’t get enough sleep, your metabolism slows down and you tend to gain weight and feel lethargic? Seriously — sleep.
Drink a minimum of six glasses of water every day. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and plenty of good healthy food. If you’re like me, you probably crave McDonald’s burgers, salt & vinegar chips, and chocolate when you’re feeling down. Resist. Don’t do it. The buzz you get from eating them is temporary, and then you’ll feel worse than when you started.
Do some exercise. Exercising releases happy-juice into your brain and increases your energy levels. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s true. Instead of lounging in your pyjamas all day, put on some clothes and go for a run around the block. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it.
If you’re religious, take time to pray. If you’re not, try meditating. If that doesn’t appeal, take a walk into nature and find a quiet place where you can sit and contemplate the awe-inspiring nature of trees. That beautiful old tree you sit under to shade you from the sun? Chances are it’s older than you are. It could be up to hundreds of years old. Imagine how many other people have sat under the same tree, in that very same spot, enjoying the quiet greatness of the natural world.
3. Research, Revisit and don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Have you ever felt like you’re the only one in the world who has ever felt so empty and hollow and depressed? Yeah, me too. I’m pretty sure we all feel that way when we’re teenagers, but sometimes the feeling sneaks back over us when we’re adults and really should know better.
Rather than trying to figure your own way out of your apathetic mood, look at how other people before you have done it. The interwebs are full of people shouting into the void about how to do this, that and the other. (And now I am, too. Yay me.) So head over to Google or YouTube and see what you can find.
(Thanks to Dan Thompson for this suggestion, as well as the following short video:)
4. Re-evaluate your Life
If your feeling of emptiness and apathy goes on for more than a few days, it might be time to try to work out why you’re feeling that way. Perhaps your mojo hasn’t really gone, and the steps above will help. Or perhaps your mojo has gone into hiding because you’re not happy with something in your life. If that’s the case, spend some time working out why you feel the way you do, and how you can change that.
In some cases, that may be obvious. As Dave Higgins said:
I had the feeling some days after I was made redundant for the first time.I found that having a scheduled boring routine task to do each day worked for me. Because it was boring (scrub the sink, &c.) I did not expect to feel happy during it. Once it was finished I got a little buzz from achieving it and my inner critic could not call the day wasted.
But sometimes, you may need to look at making a much larger change to re-find your mojo. As Dianne Gray said:
The way I pulled myself out of [a nothing week] last week was to make a massive decision. On Friday night I decided to leave work and go back to the country. My last day at work will be 2 November and now every day I’m looking forward to and working towards that goal.
5. Reach Out
Don’t underestimate the power of telling other people how you’re feeling. I wasn’t kidding on Wednesday when I said I’d written and deleted three blog posts before I wrote the one I eventually published. I’d actually decided not to post anything at all, but then forced myself to do it anyway. I’m so very glad I did. Even just hearing that other people feel the same was a huge help.
Thank you to everyone who read, liked, and commented on my post. You guys are the best.
Which of these suggestions have worked for you in the past? Have you got any others I’ve missed?