I was lost.
There’s no other way to describe it. Low energy, depressed, resentful. The lingering winter did its damage. I started a new job, and I was uncomfortable—uncharacteristically unsure of myself. I gained weight, and I wasn’t running. I wasn’t enjoying or savoring anything in my life in quite the same way.
Furthermore, politics—the constant barrage of hypocrisy, and more news of mass shootings—was eating me alive. I knew something had to give. I was circling the drain, and before the final plummet into the dark tunnel of no return, I knew I had to take some action to get myself back, to get my soul back.
Here’s what I did, and it worked. Maybe it will work for you, too.
Unplug. I knew I needed to step away from social media. Like quitting anything (food, cigarettes, habits), it wasn’t easy. Surprisingly, not posting or checking my phone every few minutes was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I had been living my life online. I shared my thoughts, political commentary, and writing with the world the moment I felt the urge.
It gave me the instant social connection I was seeking. I justified it by telling myself that it was simply the way I expressed myself. Unplugging wasn’t easy. It took practice to not look at my phone before I fell asleep, or the first thing I did when I woke up. But, without the constant barrage of positive feedback, I had to learn (again) to rely on myself for validation.
Find water. Such a small thing, and yet it worked. I drank it, I listened to it, I swam in it, and I watched it. I went to the lake where I grew up and sat on the dock, dipping my toes off the end, just to touch it. Nothing on God’s green Earth replenishes or revives a body and soul quite the way water does. It looks beautiful as the sun is setting and rising, such a momentous, miraculous thing. This helped me gain a new perspective. Water, in any form, is a life-replenisher.
Meditate. I got over myself and just did it. Even though I wanted to say I didn’t have time to spare for quiet stillness, I forced myself, at first, to just “go center” once a day, and meditate. I went to a place where I haven’t been in a while. I went inward for answers, instead of outward for gratification.
Practicing yoga worked its magic too as I returned to a regular practice. Meditation and yoga guided me back to myself (my convictions, my discipline, my peaceful resolution) once again.
Ingest more vitamin N. Outside is where I know I need to be, especially after one of the harshest and lingering New England winters on record. Vitamin D is a necessary component for human happiness. I got back to hiking, riding my bike, and walking through the woods. On machines like the treadmill, it’s impossible to consume the sights, the smells, or the auditory wonder of being outside. Things that fill up our senses fill up our soul.
Explore something new. I did something outside of my comfort zone. I changed gears and took on a new job. It was difficult at first, but I soon realized that once the awkwardness and unfamiliarity passed, doing something different was invigorating. The quickest route to depletion and cynicism is stagnation. To rest on our laurels, or feel as though the best parts of our lives are over, is to quietly surrender to the long hike down the hill. Exploring something new helped me climb a bit further.
Get physical. Sunup to sundown, I moved my body. Or, at least I tried. I made time for exercise again which helped me release my pent up negativity and frustration. My under-utilized muscles and my over-stimulated mind thanked me for it.
Purge. I got rid of a bunch of clothes and junk in my house that gave me anxiety every time I passed because all it did was collect dust. My stuff made me feel stuffed, and ridding myself of it, I felt lighter, and freer.
Create something. I’m no horticultural artist, but with my own bare hands, and a small idea, I created a fun little succulent garden for my window, using various pots, stones, and some driftwood. It is something aesthetically delightful that has no other function other than to be cared for and gazed upon. And quite simply, it makes me happy every time I look at it.
No more carbs. We all eat too many carbohydrates, more than we need, and they slow us down. As soon as I cut back, I gained more energy than I had in months. It also relieved some of the “brain fog” I had been experiencing. Healthy carbs are fine in moderation, but no one needs an endless bread basket with any meal.
Splurge. Yes, retail therapy works. New (meaningful or not) things and experiences are fun and can bring a sense of freshness to a stagnant life. I bought myself a few services at the spa, which is something I had never done before. It was lovely, relaxing, and reviving. I put myself first for a change, and it was worth it because it changed me. It was an act of love toward no one but myself.
Doing these things helped me “find myself” again. Purging, exploring, and trying something new were ways to take action against the barrage of soul crushing events and depressing circumstances I had no control over.
When we unplug, move our bodies outside, create something pleasing, and purge our junk, we increase our zest for life, which helps us “snap out’ out of our sluggishness and bounce back from the brink of descent. It helps us continue our climb toward brighter days, instead of falling into the darkness of resignation.
Author: Kimberly Valzania
Image: See Ming Lee/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen