Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Favorite Practice for Down Days

Do you ever get into a funk?  Where you feel down--not quite depressed but just kind of blue?

For many many years I got funky regularly.  I'd have difficulty connecting with people, feel lonely, unmotivated and kind of lost.  Not surprisingly, I didn't feel very good about  myself, either.  I don't remember when they started and I don't think they will completely end but I have noticed these days making themselves more and more scarce as I've moved through my mid-twenties.

I think an enormous part of it is practicing awareness and acceptance and being proactive.  For a long time, I identified with these days; I didn't think, "I feel lonely and lost," rather, I'd think, "I am lonely and lost."  Big, fat difference.  I was how I felt on these tough days.  Also, for myriad reasons, the good days where I felt happy, light and free didn't come so often, so they felt like the anomaly and the bad days felt like the norm.

What I'm trying to get at is that I've come to the realization that we all have crappy days, and I imagine most of us have days where we feel crappy without a clear reason why.  If we can separate ourselves from our emotions and whatever is happening around us, however, we can realize that, for most of us, the crappy days are the exception to the rule.  If we felt great all the time, if things always went smoothly, we'd have no frame of reference to appreciate the extra good ones or the extra good things that happen to us.  That's the acceptance piece; the funky days are just as special as the great days because they are part of this complicated mess that is our life.  

That said, I'd really rather not feel down.  I like to feel happy or at least normal.  I also don't really like this part of myself that sits unshowered in my messy house feeling sorry for myself because a tiny little minor probably-didn't-mean-anything something happened that made me feel hurt and frustrated.

This is the proactive piece: when I have the wherewithal to call myself on indulging a bit too much in self pity, I make a gratitude list.  Everyone has their own reasons for a gratitude practice.  Try it and just see what it brings for you.  I have three main reasons for using this tool: when I'm feeling down and feeling stuck, it helps me realize that I've come a long way, been given a lot, and am most certainly not stuck; when I'm stressed, it helps put whatever I'm stressing about into perspective; and as a participant in this go-go-go culture, it helps me stop for a minute and take a look around.  Some people make a short  (3-10) list of things they're grateful for every night before going to bed.  Some people keep a running list in a notebook or on their computer to add to any time the fancy strikes them.  I've tried both of these, and I find what works best for me is to whip it out when I need it.  All are equally valid.

Today, I am grateful for: 

  1. graham crackers with almond butter
  2. my brother, who is off somewhere doing something with his smart brain.  we don't talk much, but I'm so proud of him.  I am lucky to have him as a brother.
  3. my yoga mat
  4. the hot hot Reno August.  I will miss the heat when it's gone, so enjoy it today.
  5. having glasses.  I imagine most people who need glasses do not have them.
  6. hot black tea
  7. this sweet little gray antique Formica table I'm using as a desk.  my generous mama left it at our house, even though I know she loves it.
  8. Trader Joe's fiberful ends and pieces.  Like eating healthy candy.  And I'm extra grateful for the fact that it keeps, considering I'm low on fresh fruit.
  9. that I get to go grocery shopping tomorrow and know that if I want I can buy more food than I could eat in a month, and still afford to pay my bills.
  10. having a healthy, young body
  11. the beautiful friendships I am lucky enough to have.  the friends in my life are incredibly precious to me and I hold them very dear.
  12. the insights and personal growth I've experienced in the multicultural counseling course I have the privilege of taking this summer.
  13. that I'm getting married to the most incredible human being I have ever met.
  14. that my family and friends are so excited for us and so happy for our happiness.
  15. our beautiful, cute little house.  it is truly our home.
  16. having a car that functions.
  17. that I have been to Wanderlust three times in as many years.  that I am able to do this--physically and financially--blows me away.
  18. bicycles
  19. Otter and Sabine, our sweet little kitties.  I don't know how we got so lucky to have two funny, sweet, perfect kitties move in with us whom I just happen to not be allergic to.  What are the odds?
  20. That my parents could afford to get me braces as a teenager.
  21. My garden.
  22. Going to Portland soon to visit old friends and soak some moisture into my skin.
  23. the experiences I have had that have shaped me into me.
  24. my amazing parents.  I couldn't have asked for better ones.
  25. introspection
It's certainly a personal practice.  It's tempting to judge as you write, but trust me, just be honest and open and real, and keep going until you believe it.