Let’s not sugarcoat it: slumps happen. Even the most motivated, happy people can suffer from slumps now and then — whether from endless winter, hormones, or just life. But the good news is that even though they suck, there’s usually a way to speed up the process and dig yourself out.
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One of the hardest parts of being in a slump is the stress we put on ourselves during it. When our Instagram feeds are full of everyone kicking butt at work, looking happy at brunch, or hiking — all while you’re sitting on your couch feeling unmotivated — the slump gets worse.
But it’s imperative to remember that we’re all human! No one is happy or motivated 24/7, not even Tony Robbins. Sure, it’s uncomfortable and a downer, but be kind to yourself during this period. Negatively slamming yourself along the way won’t help.
Journal to yourself
If you’re unsure why you’re in a slump to begin with, it’s a good time to take pen to paper and figure it out. Spend 15 minutes brain dumping and getting any thoughts out in a journal. A lot of times, we’re holding in confusion, anger, sadness, or other emotions that aren’t necessarily easy to see.
Katie Dalebout’s book Let It Out is excellent if you’re looking for journaling prompts to dig deeper.
Make a couple lists
After you journal, consider making two lists.
The first will be a happiness list, which Gretchen Rubin famously talks about in The Happiness Project (a stellar book if you find slumps happening often). Whether it’s getting your nails done or reading blogs in the morning, think about moments where you’re excited or happy. Even the smallest things (like applying face oil) should be on this list. Your goal is to look at this list and then start incorporating a few of those happy things in each day. Even if this doesn’t bring you fully out of your slump, it’ll increase your mood while working through things.
The second list is a gratitude list, and we encourage making these daily. It doesn’t need to be in a journal or even written down, but simply thinking of three things you’re grateful for when you wake up is a great start. If you’re a visual person, take photos of things you’re grateful for daily: coffee, sunshine, bed.
Find your kind of inspiration
The upside of an information-overload culture? The sheer amount of places to find inspiration. From podcasts with incredibly smart and motivating people (hi Oprah!), to free blog posts, social media, and books, there is endless inspiration waiting for you when you need it most.
To not get overwhelmed and instead consume information that will actually be helpful, look back to your journaling notes. What seems to be hindering your slump? Is it career focused or personal? Is it surrounding your well-being or creativity? Once you hone in on the general source of the slump or an area you’d like to improve, start digging into specific inspiration while ignoring the rest.
Take a personal day
If you find yourself in a slump due to exhaustion, it’s time for a break. Use a sick day, a personal day, whatever — but just create a day for yourself (this means NO commitments to other people). Maybe you spend that day catching up on tasks, maybe you spend it sleeping — but if your body is screaming out for rest, listen up!
It’ll be nearly impossible to get out of a slump if you’re exhausted and don’t have time to reset.
Make a vision board
Who doesn’t love a Pinterest session — or better yet, a physical vision board? If you’re having a hard time even getting out of bed, grab a stack of magazines (or your computer) and create a vision board of sorts. Pick images that motivation you — not ones that are unrealistic or make you feel worse about yourself. Then, make it a habit to look at it each morning.
Look forward to something
Often times, slumps happen after big events have ended or when there’s nothing exciting to look forward to. To combat this boredom, book a trip, a weekend with the girls, a conference, a game, or even sign up for a class you’ve been dying to try. Studies show that the build-up to an event is almost as exciting as the actual trip itself (or whatever it is), so boost your mood this way.
Up the self-love
This goes back to accepting that slumps happen, but it’s a great idea to take care of yourself during this blah time. Find little pockets of your day when you can take care of your mind, body, and soul, in ways that actually feel good to you; following some random self-care list will only overwhelm you and it might not have a positive effect.
Maybe it’s booking a massage or a facial, or maybe it’s taking a bath in the comfort of your home. Whatever it may be, prioritize taking care of yourself — even if it takes extra effort.
Get outside & get moving
These steps are side by side because when combined, they’re pretty magical. Nature and movement are both natural endorphin boosts and each can actually lower the stress hormones in our bodies.Whether your slump has to do with the weather or something else, get yourself outside on a 20-minute walk as often as possible.
Map out a plan
When you’re in a slump, thinking of a goal can backfire — unless you have a plan of attack. Once you find inspiration and are ready to make moves, set yourself up for success.
By choosing a S-M-A-R-T goal, that goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. In other words, you’re not setting a goal without action that’ll essentially make your slump even worse when you fail. The SMART system has been around forever and is truly one of the best ways to meet a goal.
Book a date
With your girlfriends, of course! Life gets busy and a little serious if we’re not careful. Sometimes, all we need to get out of a slump is a night with our girls.
Book a night with those who make you feel the best, who you look up to and respect, and who you can vent to without judgement. Open that nice bottle of vino and watch something hilarious or play a game that involves making fools of yourselves. Chances are, you’ll feel a lot better by the end of the night.
Take a break from social media
And last but not least, turn off the damn phone. Comparison from Instagram or Facebook highlights of someone’s promotion might not sit well right now — and that’s okay! Give yourself permission to tune out from the world (people will understand). Instead, focus solely on yourself, while not comparing yourself to every social media update.