Whether you’re recovering from addiction, or just traveling through life in general, it’s important to remember that it’s totally normal to have down days. It is unrealistic to expect that you’re going to feel strong EVERY day.
You’ll have some days where you feel inspired, positive, and high on your own empowerment because you’re kicking personal life goals.
And life will throw you other days where you feel agitated, low, uninspired, totally ‘un-zen’ and you’ll find it hard to get the motivation to do your usual healthy habits.
If you’re not yet a safe distance away from your addictions, these are also the days you’re most in danger of relapsing.
And you might wonder what you did ‘wrong’ to feel crappy like this.
Using the power of reflection and self-analysis, if you’re able to pinpoint what happened to contribute to feeling crap then great. Use your power of resolve and determination to do your best to avoid similar circumstances in the future.
Maybe it’s an obvious answer like you relapsed. Or it could be something more subtle, such as not going outside to get enough fresh air, or not getting enough sunshine. Maybe you’ve been hanging out with energy-draining friends, watching too much TV or eating too much junk food. Feeling crappy can be caused by too much of ANYTHING that lowers your energy.
If your wellbeing scales are tipped out of balance from something you can identify, then you will need to find a way to fix it. Do whatever you need to do to get your wellbeing scales back in balance.
Very often however, you may feel like dog turds for NO identifiable reason. You just feel uninspired, flat, agitated, grumpy – you feel like your inner fire is fizzling rather than burning strong and bright. And sometimes it makes you feel even WORSE because you can’t work out why.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and there is nothing wrong with you. It’s totally normal to have down days.
All living things run in cycles
Human beings function in cycles – ALL of natures operates within cycles. The moon has cycles, the seasons run on cycles and so does the weather. Even your washing machine and dishwasher have cycles for a reason. It is just not possible to be running on maximum power all the time. You will not be feeling on top of the world, every single day of the year.
I’m writing about this because I experience it. Some days catch me off-guard and I feel flat, uninspired and just a little agitated inside. And when I do, it’s frustrating and sure it sucks. But it really helps to remind myself that ALL of us recovering from mental health issues or addiction experience it. EVERYONE does. If you’re alive, you run within cycles.
When you remind yourself that this is normal, then you don’t take it so painfully or personally. You don’t feel like you’re the only one who’s unfairly experiencing it. You don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong to invite this feeling in. It gives comfort to remind yourself that it is absolutely normal to have down days.
In addition to feeling flat, low and uninspired, you also might feel disappointed because you’ve been doing all the ‘right’ things. You’ve been meditating and eating healthy for days in a row – even weeks – and you’ve been feeling the benefits. You’re feeling thankful, and it’s easy to be grateful because you feel empowered and awesome. Then one morning you wake up and you just don’t feel like doing any of it. For TWO days in a row you just don’t feel like it, maybe even three.
You do whatever you can to try to make yourself feel positive and energized, but you just can’t. There are just some days where a banana smoothie and a salad just aren’t going to cut it. The only thing that will do is some chocolate, comfort food, a little sulk and maybe some movies. And much of the time even that doesn’t help.
Sometimes you just need to do whatever you can to ride it out until it passes.
I’ve been addiction-free, mindfully drawing and practicing meditation for a while now, and I can see the patterns of highs and lows a little clearer than I could in the beginning. Unless I’ve done something to invite in the low energy, I remind myself that it’s totally not my fault, that’s it’s normal to have down days and that it will pass.
Expect it here and there. It makes you feel not-so-crappy if you know it’s normal and we all go through this.
If relapse is a possibility for you, then watch out for these low days and be prepared for when they appear. Pre-prepare some diversionary tactics for when you’re feeling vulnerable. Have an emergency stop button ready if you have any temptation at all to relapse.
Some people go for a run, others might phone a friend and hang out with them for the afternoon until they feel better. Other people yet again prefer to get out into nature and go for a long walk. Some people just get back into their pyjamas and hop into bed with a good book, a snuggly kitty and a whole lot of chocolate.
Do whatever you need to do, in order to NOT reach back towards your old pattern of addictive behaviour.
Remind yourself that it’s totally normal to have down days, and the low moods and the flat feelings ALWAYS pass.
Although I’ve fallen off my sober wagon face-first into the mud 100 times before, I’m not in danger of relapse at this time in my life. So down days for me mean I’m not able to meditate, I don’t feel like eating healthy and I’m not able to shake agitation out of my headspace. I’m not able to draw without getting impatient and annoyed. Motivation is out the window and I feel unsettled and I just feel a little fed up with stuff. ALL stuff.
Because I’m stubborn, I usually try to push through it and persist with my normal routine, and then I get even more annoyed because I just can’t do it. So I’ll try something different. Maybe I’ll start a new art piece, or find a new meditation that I haven’t done before. If that doesn’t work I’ll go for a walk, raid my nephew’s snack cupboard for chocolate or stand outside and get some sun. Sometimes (like now) I write it out – I keep trying to do whatever works, and eventually something works, or maybe the low cycle just passes. The point is, one way or another, it passes.
When you feel like crap, or you feel uninspired and unmotivated to stick to your usual healthy routine for no reason that you can identify, try and break your routine. Get up and take a walk around the block, have a shower and visualise washing your frustrations down the drain, maybe you need a day of reading or watching movies. Sometimes you just need to wait it out, or the low mood will push you right back.
It also helps to get to know your cycles. How often are they? How many down days do you have a month, how long do they last, how severe are they, and what your techniques do you have that successfully help you get through them? Self-awareness tools can help you get through this as painlessly as possible.
Self-awareness might mean simply to remind yourself that it is totally normal to have down days, and that they will pass. Sometimes it’s helpful NOT to think about it too much. For some people, analyzing too much feeds their low mood. Get to know what works for you and what doesn’t.
The important thing is, that you don’t stay down. If you are caught in a spiral of descent that takes you further into the murky waters of emotion and you’re not bouncing back, then you might need to get this looked into by someone who’s trained to pinpoint why, and holistically remedy the cause. Otherwise let these down days pass like grey clouds floating through the sky.
So be kind to yourself, remember it’s normal to have down days. Expect a low-mood day, a lazy day or an I-can’t-be-effed-day here and there. It’s normal.
Right across the globe we all do it – at any given point in time there are probably a million women and men on planet earth (at least!) feeling the same feelings as you are. You’re not alone. Cycles of feelings and emotions are just a part of being a human being living on planet earth.
Within a few days you’ll be back to normal,until the cycle comes around once again. The main thing is that you’re moving forward, slowly but surely as a whole.
Rachael Styles writes about addiction, creates art and explores mindfulness over at www.lightinmyshadow.com