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Down Days and How To Deal with Them

It goes without saying.

I hate down days.

What are down days?

Down days are those times when you get into your own head over something trivial and stupid.  Maybe you forgot something at the grocery store, and now you’re going to be late to a party.  Or maybe a friend didn’t call you when you felt you needed their opinion the most.  Or maybe you’ve driven in Atlanta traffic too many days in a row, and you just want to get home.

If left to fester, this little spark can ignite a flame that can kill your motivation to do anything else productive for the rest of the day.  Suddenly, everything about your life is wrong, and you don’t even think the good stuff is worth considering.  If it were up to you, you would turn around, go back to bed, and fade from existence one thought at a time.

Yeah.  Not a happy place.

As I have mentioned more times than I can count on this blog and to anything who will listen, I suffer from more down days than I would care to admit.  What I am learning to do, slowly and steadily, is control their severity and frequency of occurrences.  I’m proud to say I’m getting better at it, and I would like to share some of the more successful tactics that I have used over the years.

Write yourself notes when you’re having an Up Day.

Down days are hard, because all you see are the negatives of everything.  You hate everything, and you’re pretty sure everything hates you.  By reading how positive and wonderful you once thought the world, you can remember that you’re not such a Debbie Downer Day-er after all, and that moment, too, will pass.

If you feel like a creeper leaving yourself notes, simply collect messages that you have posted to Facebook or Twitter on the days when you knew you had it going on.  Find feedback from friends, family and coworkers praising your abilities.  Read about how much good you have done—and remember the good you have yet to do.

Talk to someone who knows and accepts your down days.

This can be a little tricky, especially if you are currently in the mindset that no one loves you.  When that happens, go to those who Love You By Default – ie. A close family member or a good friend.  Someone who has seen you shriek and rip upholstery and still wants to sit beside you in public.  These people are real, good people, and their love is unconditional.  They want you to speak them whether you believe it or not.

Remember what makes you amazing.

One thing that I’ve always prided myself on is the fact that I love professional wrestling.  (Yes, yes, I know—it’s fake.)  While I love the athleticism and the soap opera-ness and the 95% naked men, it’s primarily the looks on people’s faces when they discover that I’ve been a diehard fan for nearly 20 years that tickle me the most.  “Wow; you look like the last person who would ever watch wrestling,” they gasp.

I know.  And I absolutely love that.

Remember that unique, special part of you, and know that nobody else can do it quite like you.

Meditate.  That’s right.  Meditate.

Meditation can easily get a back rap if you don’t know how to do it right.  The nice thing about it is that there are so many ways to properly meditate.  The key ingredient is your concentration.  Recently, I’ve begun a nightly session of candle meditation—zeroing in on the flickering flame and thinking (or unthinking) only of the way the light flutters in the darkness.  When the worries of the world begin to seep back in, I mentally shout, “Shut up!” and go back into focus.

Some other meditations I’d recommend through my own trial and error:

    • Breathing
    • Chakra
    • Yoga
    • Craft meditation – which includes performing a soothing, repetitive task (like knitting or walking or even braiding hair) that allows you to get lost in the rhythm of the motion.

Write it out.

When I mention this suggestion to people, most of them say, “Well, of course you’d say that.  You’re a writer!”  To write out your emotions, the anger, the stress, and the hatred you feel during down days does not require any “skills.”  Write what you’re feeling.  Write what you wish you were feeling.  Write what you wish you could do to feel better.

Forget grammar.  Forget punctuation.  Type it on the computer.  Tap it onto your iPhone.  Scrawl in on a napkin.  Keep a notebook by your bed.

Write a sentence.  Write a paragraph.  Write a page.

Scream your words onto the paper!

Read it back if you want.  Fold it up and put it away.  Burn it.  It doesn’t matter.  Now that your emotions have been put somewhere else, they no longer control you.  You can breathe and continue the day.


Down days are not always easy to work through.   With time and patience, though, you can control and reduce them.  More more time, they will hopefully be a minority in your life.

What techniques have you used to lessen your down days?

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