I’ve never looked forward to August. I start mourning summer on Fourth of July. I know—terrible attitude. But this time is different. I’m entering the month as if emerging from a fog. Everything looks brighter, clearer. The past few months have been wrapped in change, both wonderful and jarring. For reasons that you can read about here and here, I slipped into a rut before I could catch myself. It didn’t last long, but if you’ve ever been clinically depressed or anxious then you know even one day can be debilitating. Thankfully I had better tools, more self-awareness, and a very supportive (and persistent) partner this time around, and those made all the difference. Here’s what I learned—and how I plan to make the most of my newfound summer:
*Exercise is everything. So often I
forget ignore this when I’m feeling down but it’s the thing that helps the most. Exercise not only changes your brain chemistry, but it’s makes you feel empowered when the rest of your life is uncertain.
*Uncertainty can be exciting. I can’t believe I’m even typing those words. Uncertainty is excruciating at worst, annoying at best. When struggling with the unknown, we tend to think the outcome is going to be bad when really it could be a juicy adventure. What if where you are going is better than what you can imagine?
*Don’t wait to go to therapy. And don’t do like me and put it off as long as you can like it’s a competition. To what? See how long you can be miserable without asking for help? Yeah. If that’s the way you think you definitely need therapy. It’s a gift you give yourself, not a sign you’ve given up.
*Enjoy doing nothing. In our culture, not having a packed work schedule and exciting social calendar are frowned upon. But when you’re down or depleted emotionally, your mind and spirit need to rest and restore. Getting quiet and (gasp) being by yourself without an agenda is exactly what you need to prepare for whatever comes next.
*Productivity is a four-letter word. My therapist really struck a chord when she challenged my definition of productive. What if yoga does more for me than working another hour? What if having less makes me feel richer? What if I’ve been doing it ALL WRONG all along? It’s equally frightening and freeing to consider.
*Just try. I don’t like to do anything if I can’t do it perfectly out of the gate. I was born this way, and it’s why you will never see me on water skis. I am prone to procrastination and paralysis when I want to do something new—especially if it really matters to me. Since that’s no way to live I’m learning to try for the sake of curiosity and enjoyment, not the finished product.
*Happiness is human connection. Not things. Not money. Not a high-powered job. Whatever your definition of success, when you have it, you won’t be satisfied until you realize that it’s the people who know and love you and bring out the best in you that make you truly happy.
*What’s the worst that can happen? I love this game. When you find yourself panicking about anything, play out in your mind how bad things could get—even if it’s completely irrational. I think you’ll realize that no matter what, you will still be you. And even if you have to start over with nothing, you will have everything you need.
I’m going to stop there, because at this rate I’m giving away all of my future blog post material. More than anything, I hope you find it helpful to know that you’re not alone when you get stuck or sad; we all do. Come back to this list when you need a reminder and know that I am probably re-reading it right along with you!