No one is exempt from having a low low, and because of that, I have created a plan to make sure I am kind to myself when I am feeling bad. I did this because my typical go-to coping mechanisms like spending money or overeating do not help me solve problems. So, because I don’t naturally gravitate towards healthy, loving, or affirming actions while I am feeling low, I created an emergency kit that shows me step-by-step what to do when I am experiencing my low-low. Basically, I am the parent giving the babysitter notes on how to handle the inner angry or sad child that is me. So, I want to teach you all how to develop that for yourself too.
Step 1. Know that your emotions do not mean anything to you.
· Emotions are information, not labels. So, when you are engaging with your emotions try your best not to judge yourself over the information your body, mind, and spirit are trying to relay to you.
Step 2. Identify tasks that are low effort and make you happy.
· You need to really focus on low or no-effort tasks because when you are feeling down, you never feel like it. You never feel like anything, so you need something that takes no energy. My go-to’s are watching a funny movie or a thriller. Or going on a walk with my dog. That takes no effort from me because my dog’s health and his bathroom breaks mean a lot to me, and I won’t allow him to suffer because I am feeling bad.
· Once you identify it, write it down. I prefer sticky notes wherever there is a mirror to keep me aware that I always have options.
Step 3. Develop a playlist of songs that make you feel your best.
· On a day you are feeling extra good, sit down and create a playlist that reflects that mood. You want songs that make you want to jump off the couch and dance. You want anything with the energy to get you moving. The object is to stimulate movement so that you can use that energy to carry you through the day or through small tasks that you’d like to do.
Step 4. Have a designated journal for your lows and write what you feel anytime you are in a mood.
· The goal of this is when you are out of your low, you can review your thoughts and understand what thoughts, experiences, and ideas are present when you aren’t feeling your best. You can also take this journal to your therapist and develop a plan with your on how to cope with these feelings.
Step 5. Pull out your workout clothes.
· This action triggers your mind to want to exercise because you know that it will induce serotonin. You also know that it is important to move your body. Now, You don’t have to work out, but it’s a great reminder of a choice that you can take to improve your mood.
Step 6. Lay down.
· Sometimes there is nothing that can improve your mood, and the only thing you truly need is to lay down, grieve, or give your mind and body a rest. So, know that this is an option and it does not mean anything to you.
Step 7. Pour into your hobbies or business.
· Sometimes work inspires you. It makes you feel like a CEO or a boss and you need that when you feel like shit. I know when I don’t feel good, I turn to Charlie toolbox to write out my feelings and sometimes they become content like podcast episodes, tweets, and books that come out of it.
Step 8. Use affirmations
· I know this is often used and I hate that it works, but affirmations are a friend to you. You can either listen to one on YouTube or you can create your own and use it anytime you feel like you aren’t in the best of mood.
· I know I have a recording on my notes of me breathing life into me, and I think because it’s my voice it feels more personal and real to me.
Step 9. Eat healthy.
· Now, this is one I kind of skipped over. I know that if I am feeling down the worst thing, I can do is eat food that makes me feel physically bad. Sometimes, I eat things that are nutritious and give me the energy to get up. But often, I eat my favorite meal, which makes me temporarily happy but in the long run it hurts me.
· So, I am learning how to lean into healthy choices while under duress.
Step 10. Stretch
· I don’t know what it is, but whenever I stretch my body I feel so limber and relieved. Take the tension out of our body and stretch in front of a tv so it isn’t so much work or that it doesn’t feel as taxing.
Step 11 Watch a Beyonce performance or Documentary.
· I don’t know what it is about her and her performances, but whenever I feel like I can’t do something, I am tired, I am depressed, I am feeling at my worst, I watch a Beyonce performance or documentary, and I get inspired.
· I remember that it takes time to make greatness. I remember that she has lows and highs too and still, she has great results and enjoys her life. I learn what it means to believe in your dreams, and it makes me want to hop out of bed and just try!
Step 11. Stimulate your vagus nerve
· The vagus nerve is “the body's superpower and it's used to counteract your fight/flight system. It's how you develop a healthy stress response and become resilient. When stimulated, you feel calmer, more compassionate, and clearer. Stimulating the vagus benefits your autonomic nervous system and mental health.”
· So, look on YouTube and find some tricks on how to stimulate the vagus nerve.
· One practice I learned was to lie down and look at the ceiling. keep your head straight and move your eyes to the right side for 30-60 seconds and then move to the left side for 30-60 seconds. This movement is a trigger for your vagus nerve and can leave you calmer.
Step 12. Write it all down and post it around the house.
· Keep this kit in a place where you can see it daily. I say that because when you are spiraling you aren’t going to search for it, but if you have it on your refrigerator you don’t have to look for it. It’s there and you can quickly pull from the list to make you feel better, present, sane, stable, or at peace.
And on that note you all take care!