A Survival Guide to those Below Baseline Blues!

Before last week I had a 10 day struggle with being way below baseline. It wasn’t the worse crash I’ve ever experienced or the longest, but my lack of energy left me feeling very low and unmotivated. I managed to patiently wait it out without giving myself a hard time or making the experience worse than it already was and I’ve now come out the other side. Here are my 5 tips for surviving those below baseline blues:

Acceptance/permission to feel low

I find it helpful to accept that feeling low is as much a biological response to being under the weather as a psychological one. I allow myself to feel low without giving myself a hard time about it. It’s totally understandable to lose a bit of motivation, when your coping resources are suddenly limited even further than normal. It’s even more acceptable when you factor in that your brain chemistry has probably taken a dive. I give myself permission to feel low and allow myself not to have to feel cheery and positive, letting go of any nagging thoughts about how I should be making more of an effort to enjoy life as it is now.

Patience

I remind myself that I just have to patiently wait out these feelings; that they will change in time as long as I don’t resist them. It can take time, especially if the crash is a prolonged one. But I focus on just making myself as comfortable as possible while I wait, without forcing myself to enjoy myself or do things I don’t feel like doing. Patience can be helped by distraction. Even if it doesn’t manage to cheer you up, listening to an audio book, reading a trashy novel or some lighthearted viewing can help you pass the time more comfortably while you wait.

Have a break

I also allow myself time out from some of my self-help practices. If I really don’t feel like doing something right now I tell myself it’s OK not to do it. It won’t be the end of the world If I don’t do my yoga, or go for a walk every day. I can pick things up again when I’m feeling better again, it’s OK to let go of things for a while!

Value achievements

I praise myself for the things I do manage to achieve in terms of getting through a rough spot. During this crash I still managed to prepare fresh food for myself at every meal even though I did little else all day. I celebrated that as a major achievement and something extremely positive that I was doing for myself. I also praised myself for not succumbing to the nagging thoughts that I should be making more of an effort. I placed a high value on my self-acceptance and self-compassion. During some crashes I write a detailed list of all the tiny tasks that need to be completed just to make it through the day and give myself a pat on the back each time I tick one of them off. E.g. get out of bed tick, brush teeth tick, make tea tick.

Trust

I think what makes all of the above possible is choosing to trust that things will change and improve without me having to be particularly pro-active. Patiently waiting things out will bring about improvements as long as you are not doing things that will aggravate the crash/flare. You don’t need to be really good at self-help all the time as long as you rest up and don’t push or force or add tension with critical, non-accepting thoughts. With trust, acceptance and compassion, sooner or later you will feel just well enough to do a little bit more, allowing you to add to each tiny improvement. Trust that your motivation will come back as soon as you are feeling a little better!

What gets you through your below baseline blues?

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5 thoughts on “A Survival Guide to those Below Baseline Blues!

  1. I generally fight my way through telling myself I will be fine and I generally am, if pretty battered. I do though head to bed as soon as I get in and am housebound on my days off. I minimise work as much as possible. This is more to do with the fact that I have to work. I nearly always make little of how bad I,m feeling to others in fact it’s often not until I begin to climb back up that I realise how bad I was!

    On the occasion that I have gone with the physical pain completely I have dipped so low emotionally that it has been risky.

  2. I have channelled my creative side while I have been sick. Earlier this year I taught myself how to crochet. More recently i purchased one of those adult coloring books for sale from a newsagent. I find that colouring, and my other love is jigsaw puzzles (online ones so I don’t have to deal with the mess) are really great for me during a crash as it is meditative and helps to take my mind off things while enjoying the simplicity of the colors, patterns and beauty of the pattern/photo I am working on. Crocheting is similar, but does need a little more in the way of concentration when working from a pattern. When the pattern is easy & repetitive this is something I can do whilst resting in bed or on the couch.

    • Creativity is great soul food! and wonderful for when you’re feeling below par! Thank you for sharing, they are great ideas for anyone who’s struggling to think of how to make the bad days more bearable!

  3. When I’m like that, I can’t do any writing, and I even find it hard to breathe (which should not require voluntary effort!).

    I review the previous days’ acitivities, to see if I can learn anything so as not to do that again, but basically just have to wait it out.

    Boring, too – because I can’t read or play games or watch a movie that requires sustained attention.

    I do one thing, though: I try to save the details – because the heroine of Pride’s Children, the novel I’m writing (working on second book of the trilogy) has CFS, and like any writer, I store bits and pieces I find, to use to make the books realistic.

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