4 steps to get out of the dumps

Ignoring everything you need to do, bingeing on Netflix or surfing the web until the crack of dawn, ordering food delivery, doing nothing, especially not anything you’re supposed to be doing…

I’m sure every one of us had days like that. Sometimes after a stressful period of your life, you need some time to decompress and it’s perfectly fine to take it easy for a while and do nothing. But many times we start by destressing and then get stuck in a rut and can’t get out.

So how do you get out of a slump and jump back into your life with joy? Some people need a drastic change to motivate them and get them running, but many of us run out of steam quickly and the dumps return with a vengeance. It’s better to take it slow, but make sure you’re going in the right direction. Here are some baby steps to get you out of the dumps!

    1. Take care of your health. Feeling low and without energy is very often because of an unhealthy lifestyle. Start by sleeping well and observing good sleep hygiene: go to bed at a reasonable hour, try to get 8 hours of sleep, turn off any electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime. Then focus on your diet: try to drink more water than usual (especially if you’ve been eating nothing but fast food, as it typically has a lot of salt and you’ll be thirstier than usual), choose healthier food options and introduce more veggies and fruit.

    2. Acknowledge the dumps. Admit to yourself that you’re at a low point and that you didn’t spend the past few days (or weeks…) in, let’s say, the most healthy or productive way. Try to recognize if there’s a pattern happening, like always feeling down after a stressful month at work, or any big events happening in your life right now – perhaps you’re just unconsciously trying to process it all. Acknowledge events or actions that might have contributed to your current state of mind.

    3. Forgive yourself. If you’re unhappy with how you spent your time during this period, acknowledge the remorse and then let it go. Wallowing in self-pity won’t change what is done. Try to learn what you can from this, but don’t waste your time beating yourself up or overanalyzing. Instead, focus on what you can do next to get out of the dumps.

    4. Do something small and build on success. When you snap out of it and are ready to go on, do something immediately; something that needs doing or something you’ve been putting off. It’s important to take action right away to build positive momentum. If you suspect you might be depressed or have any medical condition going on (thyroid problems are the usual suspect in this case), make the first task setting up an appointment with your doctor, therapist or a counseling center. If you need extensive preparation to do a task, it’s not the right task for you now. Except, of course, if preparation is a task in itself – perhaps you’d like to go running, but if you have no idea where your running shoes are, the first task is to find the shoes. Once the first task is accomplished, you’ll probably feel productive and motivated to start with the next one. Excellent! Use your momentum, move to other tasks and congratulate yourself on being an active, productive person.

Feeling in the dumps right now? Turn off whatever device you’re reading this on and do something good for you – brush your teeth, do a set of jumping jacks, drink a glass of water. 3,2, 1… Go!

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