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Stress, and How to Escape the Slump

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I’m not really sure of the reasons behind it, but for the last few days I’ve been feeling a bit…

Blue.

That happens to everyone from time to time – even fine upstanding wellbeing-ers like myself. I’ve been a tad frazzled – it’s been a busy patch at work, my PhD programme is being a pain in the butt, and I’ve been doing some very long days to squeeze in lots of other commitments, plus – I’ll be honest – I’m not particularly excited about the upcoming knee surgery which is coming towards me considerably faster than I’d anticipated. This doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to  me, really – show me a person that looks forward to surgery and I’ll show you someone who’s a bit crazy.

All these things mean I just haven’t had the time to look after myself. Before I started getting myself healthy and happy, things were pretty much the same – but I never spent time looking out for me, so I didn’t notice how crappy I was feeling all the time until I changed things up a bit and started getting well. Now, I really notice when I don’t fit in that time – because my mood, my happiness, and (ironically) my productivity all take a bit of a dip.

Patches like that are fine, from time to time. There will always be times where your priorities are different, and things get in the way of you looking out for number one – but it’s important to make sure you don’t make these times the start of a downward spiral. It’s easy, in times like this, to let your healthy lifestyle slip by the wayside and find yourself backtracking – but you have to remind yourself that this is a long-term change you’re making, and find ways to keep yourself focused on the end goal, no matter how busy and frazzled you might be.

There are a few things you can do to get yourself out of a slump and back on the right track. Tomorrow is, after all, another day – and making the decision to take control and stay on track can massively improve your chances of being happy in the long-term.

Turn Off the Sad Music

There’s very rarely a time when I’m not listening to music – and whatever I’m listening to at any given time, it’ll usually be something that reflects my mood. This is great when I’m upbeat, because I can guarantee plenty of time spent dancing around on my own (or bopping along while I’m walking. Admit it – you’ve done that too.) The trouble with this, though, is that when things are getting on top of me, the temptation is there to stick go a bit… Morrissey. If you know what I mean.

There’s a time and a place for a good old sad song – god knows I love a bit of Radiohead from time to time – but sometimes, you’ve just got to pop on something that’s more cheery than your mood, and let it lift you back up again. Music is a powerful tool – so when you’re feeling blue, use it to get you out of a slump, rather than to cement it.

And if all else fails – just watch the video for Gangnam Style. Seriously. I challenge you not to smile a little bit.

Get Up and Get Moving

You all knew I’d throw this in there, so I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on it too much. Getting some exercise has been proven to lift your mood, because it gets all sorts of endorphins rushing around your body – so as tempting as it might be to get home after an exhausting day and devour an entire box of Milk Tray whilst watching Bridezillas re-runs that look like they might’ve been made in the 1990s, making the time for even twenty minutes of exercise will almost certainly have a better effect on your happiness levels, with none of the guilt.

Plus, when you’re exercising, it’s unadulterated ‘you’ time – so make the most of it, and get a wiggle on.

Let Go of Your Worries

When you’re busy or stressed, it’s all too easy to fixate on certain things and worry about them. A lot. I can safely say from experience that doing that gets you all of nowhere – but making the decision to let go of your worries can really improve your mood.

Usually, the things we worry about are the things we can’t actually change, at least right now – and that makes them seem even scarier. But if you can’t change them, you just have to let them go and move on to focus on the things you can actually make a difference with. Whether that’s just ticking some of the small things off your to-do list, preparing yourself some healthy lunches for the week ahead, or setting aside half an hour for a quick bit of yoga, focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can’t, is a much healthier attitude – and it’ll improve your all-round wellbeing in the long-term.

Remember – this too shall pass!

You might be going through a stressful time now, for whatever reason – but it’s not forever. I know this next few weeks will be pretty hectic for me – and after nine years spent doing it myself, I send a hearty fistbump to everyone working in retail in the run-up to Christmas – but it will pass.

That’s the same with most things that cause us to be stressed, or worried, or generally down in the dumps – they end. It might not seem like it at the time, but eventually, you’ll be back in a balanced frame of mind again and ready to take over the world, or whatever it is you like to do with your spare time.

Keeping that in mind when you’re at your most stressed can help to alleviate the panicked feeling of ‘I may never ever ever get it all done’ – because that feeling can really hamper your ability to actually do just that. You’ll be on the other end of it soon enough – and when you’re there, you’ll look back and be proud of yourself for getting through it.

Remember, if you’re trying to lose weight, or improve your happiness, or generally better your life – it’s a long-term thing. There will always be roadblocks, and times where it seems like everything’s getting in the way of your good intentions – but if you can take the right steps to improving your mood and getting back out of that slump, you’ll find that eventually… It’s all OK.

So – here’s to another week!

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Comments
  • comment avatar Sheri 7 October, 2012

    Thanks for taking the time to blog about your experience. Your comments are insightful and direct, and they’ve been helping me look at my thoughts and patterns from a slightly different angle. Could it be that after 30 odd years of lugging my extra weight around I may be on the brink of the lifestyle change I’ve been pursuing? Gee, I hope so!
    Keep it up!! You look great and you’re really inspiring. :) Good luck with your surgery.

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 8 October, 2012

      Thanks Sheri – and it sounds like you’re in a really great place to make that lifestyle change :) Congratulations and good luck!

  • comment avatar Sandi Wilde 8 October, 2012

    You are right on the mark with your views on mood, music & exercise. I can’t tell you what a pickup it is after a sunrise walk fresh with my tunes…(usually heart pounding pumpin tunes…including some rap. When we are surrounded by committments of all kinds the best strategy is to focus on taking care of number 1 first, then the rest is easier & more productive…I have found that too true. I can feel so low & after 5 minutes of turning on the tunes, my whole outlook changes. Even at work, surrounded by stress, I can turn on my headphones during my break & come back ready to TUNE OUT the bad stuff.

    I wish you much success with your knee surgery…Since you’ve been through it before & came through like the champ you are, focus on how much easier your mobility is afterward & the strength & determination you’ve shown to get your health to where it is…Personally, abit over 1 year after my knee surgery, I feel like I have a brand new strong knee & my activity level including cardio dance has increased so much…& after a workout I feel so fantastic. (& I am 56 years young, LOL)

    Keep up your positive spirit & the best of luck in your healthy living ahead!!! Remember you deserve it!!!

    Sandi

  • comment avatar Niz 9 October, 2012

    Hey,

    Well written article there :) I;ve just started to read your blog and it is very inspiring, especially to all the other people out there who are finding it hard and tough. I;ve gone through that phase too, and still going through it, its tough but like you said, its for the long-run. I have hit bumps along the road too, and sometimes it is very frustrating and can damper your goals, cause you feel its not working. But one thing is that I am determined to finish the line so I’m not giving up just yet.

    Anyways I thought of sharing some other tips on how someone could help getting out of the blues. Exercising is the ultimate form of stress relievers. Nothing works better than that, well aside from sex (and when I mean by sex, I dont mean by the act alone, I’m referring to the whole process that includes talking, kissing, cuddling etc)

    If you dont have a partner, then talking helps a lot. Just express your stress, problems to your girlfriend or someone who you can trust to share with. Sometimes, a good old ranting really helps to change your mood. Oh yea the person has to be a good listener and understands where you are coming from.

    Another way that could also help, is to wind down your night by listening to your favourite track/song which exerts calmness in you. There is one track that helps me which is by “Motorcyle – As the rush comes”, and what I do is that I close my eyes while listening to it, and picture myself at somewhere peaceful.

    Lastly, and this is to those chocolate lovers, indulge yourself in a small piece of dark chocolate (70% cocoa), especially at night after a long day, insert inside your mouth and allow it to melt inside you. First of all, dont feel guilty cause dark chocolate is good for you !

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 15 October, 2012

      Thank you so much for taking the time to add these – they really are great tips! Especially the talking one – I think having someone to discuss these things with, be they in real life or online, is absolutely essential. A good support network can really make all the difference when you’re in need.

      • comment avatar Niz 22 October, 2012

        You are most welcome :) Just sharing some stuff that helps with me. Yes talking is by far the most essential important part for someone to feel better, especially when they are drowning with negative thoughts and being stressed !

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 15 October, 2012

      Thank you so much for taking the time to add these – they really are great tips! Especially the talking one – I think having someone to discuss these things with, be they in real life or online, is absolutely essential. A good support network can really make all the difference when you’re in need!

  • comment avatar Matt 12 October, 2012

    ” show me a person that looks forward to surgery and I’ll show you someone who’s a bit crazy.”

    Call me crazy then. I destroyed both my shoulders in a skiing accident, and all the activities I did that kept me in shape were gone. Tennis, golf (walking the course, no cart), backpacking….Even bike riding was painful.

    I didn’t put on as much weight as I got slow and just felt sluggish.

    When I found a doctor that was more aggressive, I was very excited, and a year later, it’s great.

    So it depends on the return. I’m betting the knee surgery works out too. I’d almost lost sight of what it meant to not go through every day in pain, and it was pretty quick I felt my age instead of 80 again.

  • comment avatar Dollie 4 November, 2012

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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