02 Jul Getting Yourself Out of a Mood Slump
Every time I come back home from a few days away, alone, my mood sours. As soon as I enter the house, I see things that irk me. The clean pot I left on the counter while the lid dried up is still there. There are dirty glasses all over the place. The dog smells like pee, even though we bathed him last week. Come evening, my husband and son expect a home-made dinner (I do most of the cooking). During the day, they interrupt me a zillion times when I’m trying to concentrate on my work or my writing.
The weight of my responsibilities falls on me so suddenly and feels so heavy, I think it’s going to crush me. The bills, the house chores, the work, the relationships. I start fantasizing about getting a divorce and having my son only on alternate weekends, so I can live in peace. I binge on Netflix. I pick up silly fights with my husband. When he asks me what’s wrong, I say I don’t feel like talking. I sulk for two days.
Usually, by the third day I have acclimated, and my life fits me again like a well-worn slipper. I know that, with all our imperfections, we are fortunate to have each other. That no other two people in the world support me so fiercely. That money may be tight, but we can still pay the mortgage. That it’s way too hot, but we have air conditioning. That my work challenges me but also helps me grow. That I harbor words itching to come forward.
This time, however, the slump lasted a little longer, because I was already slipping down before I left the house for a three-day interpreting gig. The coronavirus surge had rattled my nerves, even though I knew it was coming. Seeing the numbers climb and knowing that there are still people who refuse to wear a mask in public is a double injury. The suffering of millions who have lost their livelihood fills me with sorrow. The simulacrum of normalcy that outdoors restaurant tables provide is a poor substitute for the old world we took for granted and that no one knows when will return.
But something else put a damper on my mood — something that was fully on me. I abandoned my morning routine last week: the yoga, the meditation, the journaling. I finished a one-month program and I wasn’t quite sure what to tackle next. Then came the three days out with the early wake-up call, and the whole routine went out the window. I am just now starting to pick it up again—and already feeling the benefits.
It’s counterintuitive but quite common that the first thing we let go of when we are feeling down, is what helps us feel better. Anybody who has suffered from depression knows what I mean. Your mood sours, and you don’t have the energy for exercise, for a walk, or to call a friend who would be supportive. You wallow in self-pity until you can’t take it anymore.
But it’s precisely when you’re feeling blue when you need to make more of an effort.
This is a hard time for many of us, one way or the other. Keep up whatever nourishes your soul. Talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Make love—even if it’s to yourself. Journal. Exercise. Prepare a delicious meal. Meditate. Have a treat. Watch a comedy. Dance to your favorite music. Listen to an uplifting podcast. Take a long bath. Help another person.
Don’t let yourself down. We need every ounce of inner and outer strength to get through this collective slump and sustain ourselves—and each other.
How do you get yourself out of a mood slump?