Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
– Anne Lamott
This past week has been emotionally difficult for me. Partially due to interaction whiplash from doing a week long program where I socialized for hours everyday to then transitioning back into the social abyss that is quarantining. Partially (possibly? Jury’s still out) due to my upcoming birthday. There has for over a decade been a dark cloud around the anniversary of my birth for several reasons that I will not get into on this blog.
While I have sort of mastered being a high-functioning depressed person, it still blows and requires that I take a step back and emotionally refuel. Today, I want to talk about how I replenish emotionally in the hopes that it can be helpful to you and also as a reminder to myself.
Step 0: Internal Check In
I like to ask myself if I can pinpoint where the sadness is coming from. Sometimes, my depression is actually a sign of internal dissonance. By internal dissonance, I mean I am involved in something that is misaligned with my values or desires.
Non exhaustive list of examples:
– Being in a relationship that makes me miserable
– Omitting the truth from someone to protect their feelings in the short term
– Hanging around people that drain me or force me to hide parts of my personality
– I’m holding myself back from something I want out of fear or perceived external pressure
If any of these are the root of my sadness, the cure is to stop them. Whether it’s to cut people out, manage my expectations of our future interactions, or make myself leap, I’ll work to do so. It is super simple, but often not easy or quick.
Consistently checking in has actually been so helpful over the past year and a half. It’s way too easy to get stuck in something that no longer serves me or that actively, but quietly destroys me.
Anyways, now to my tactics if it’s just a chemical imbalance:
Submerge in Moving Water
aka connect with nature
I’m Jamacian, so I always have a visceral tie to island life and being in or near water is deeply important to me.
Something about being in water always helps me achieve the soft focus of pure presence and awareness. I prefer rivers because then I can interact with trees and other living, non-human things. The ocean is fine too, but kind of overrated.
Scientifically water calms the nervous system by exchanging and neutralizing the electric charge of our bodies.
I was super fortunate to get into a river a month ago, and I hope to get into water in the next few weeks.
If living water is inaccessible to me, I have taken baths but I have huge qualms with them. I’m wasting water and I’m not really getting clean. So.. moving on:
Take a Whole Day Off
I take an entire day off of responsibilities and generating content or ideas. The most important aspect is that it is GUILT FREE.
It took several tries before I was able to actually take a day off without feeling like I was unnecessarily wasting time. It’s a terrible mentality that is all too prevalent in society that we need to always be doing something productive.
- Self care and rest contributes to overall productivity
- We are people who are worth more than what we can produce or do in a given day
Watch tv, listen to podcasts, masterbate, read, walk, hang out with family or friends. It doesn’t matter. Just remember to do so without guilt.
A sub part of this section is that on Saturdays (my weekly day off), I do not multitask. I focus my energy on doing only one thing at a time. That’s helpful because it forces me to slow down and it signals to my brain that this is not a day with pressure or deadlines.
Having a creative outlet is essential for me. Sometimes that’s a photoshoot and ridiculous photoshop session (refer to picture above). Sometimes that’s baking an elaborate meal or pastry. I love to work with dough and I absolutely adore carbs, so most often I’ll make loaves of bread.
For me, the benefit of creating comes from the physicality of it. Moving and fabricating my feelings takes some of their power away. When particularly sad, I like to paint and/or dance and those mediums do a great job of expressing what I can’t verbally.
Talk to People
Bonus points if I get hugs. Ugh god I miss hugs.
I am a super social person. I feed off other people’s energy, so it’s nice to chat with people who can make me laugh and remind me not to take things too seriously.
For the next month, I’m going to try to speak with 2-3 friends a week over the phone. That being said, right now I’m choosing these people wisely since I’m kinda fragile and want to interact on a particular wavelength.
Replenishing my emotional store is a particularly hard practice especially for me. I’m conditioned in every way to put others before myself. And it’s so much easier to tend to other people’s problems because I have distance from them. But this year I have made a very concerted effort to change that and these are some of the practices that have helped.