What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
What do you do when you don't see the point of anything? Everything seems overwhelming? You realize that even if you catch up one area there are 200 more things to be done and everything just seems kind of hopeless?
I don't know what sets you off but for me, I've realized it comes down to one problem: disconnection.
If I feel disconnected from the world, everything starts to crumble. I feel hopeless, bleak, overwhelmed. Here are seven ways I've found myself get out of my bleak-funk this past week. And like I said above, it may turn out that I need to be on antidepressants again, but I'm still feeling this whole thing out. For now, I love these moves as guaranteed mood-boosters.
#1: Video-chat with a friend.
I work from home a lot, which can be the best thing in the world a lot of days -- there's zero commute, very little distraction and I can make phone calls with potential contributors in private without having to book a conference room. Pretty great, right? Sure, except on the days when I need to feel connected. This week I talked with my friend Maya Francis, who had me going from crying to laughing in a matter of minutes.
I started rattling off all the reasons I would never be able to catch up on work, my place was a wreck, I needed to get my dog training and then I started saying how I felt almost traumatized from the spill that I took on my scooter a few weeks ago because my arm still hurt so much, I couldn't even open this kombucha I just bought, I had to go back to the store to get the bodega guy to open it and, and, and.
"Mandy," she said. "Stop thinking! Your arm hurt. You got the juice open. Now turn off your computer. Turn on some music, and do what you need to do."
I did. I immediately started to feel better.
#2: Get the hell outside.
OK, this is another Maya tip. "Get outside," she said during our chat. "I don't care where you go, what you do. Get. Outside."
She was right. Something about moving around, even if you're in a bit of a haze, can be really helpful. I literally wandered up to Whole Foods and was looking at their different lotions and soaps and scents, and it was kind of dumb and silly, but I felt a little bit more alive. I felt less trapped inside my to-do list, like I had some agency. I bought a little $4 bottle of Bio-K, and I drank it. Look at me, I'm doing one thing. Next I will do another.
#3: Get acupuncture.
Granted I have an incredible acupuncturist who studied to become a psychologist until she realized she could help more people through acupuncture. So it's not just the amazing needling she's doing, it's the talk therapy, too. She said the same thing that Maya said to me too, namely: STOP THINKING. Stop trying to solve everything.
"You're OK, Mandy," she said, shooshing me as I was crying hysterically telling her about some of the problems that appeared seemingly impossible. "Let it go, let it go, let it go."
You can. Let. It. Go.
#4: Breathe. Use light therapy. Really, do whatever makes you feel cozy and good and safe.
This sounds like the dumbest most obvious thing, but I was near hyperventilating when I saw my acupuncturist. "Use your breath," she said. "No one can take that away from you. I want you to breathe in deeply, take two counts and hold it, then release. Keep repeating." Suddenly, I was calmer all over, immediately.
I also bought the Nature Bright SunTouch Plus Ion/Light SADTherapy lamp. It helps, especially during this incredibly cold winter (at least here in New York). Another nice cozy touch around the apartment? A little portable heater and maybe even a heating pad, too. Nurture yourself.
#5: Have friends who check in on you.
Maya is one of those friends. She won't give up, the best kind of people. If I'm writing her some crap musings about my existence, you can bet your life she is checking in on me the next day. I have so many transactional relationships just by nature of working in the media (a quid for a pro quo), and it's so important to have people whose primary interest in your life is actually simply in your friendship and well-being. You can always tell the difference. Their advice is real, good, strong and never sycophantic. They love you, but they call you on your b.s. They are your friends.
#6: Do kind acts for others.
I asked my friend Joe if he could hook me up with a good volunteering position and he mentioned a board member spot for an organization that he works with that assists women in refugee camps. I said I want to actually volunteer and work with the women directly, and he said, absolutely. In the meantime, I'm going to more 12-step meetings since one successful thing I have done in my life in the past few years is to actually maintain over three years of sobriety, and it's nice in little ways to talk to folks trying to get and stay sober. I always immediately feel better and connected, like I matter, like my life is worth something.
That's my list. What works for you?
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.