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.
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!
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.
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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