Change. Loss. A Slump. Trauma. There’s a lot of ways to get thrown off balance and feel like you’ll never get up. We often think that healing will bring back our equilibrium but sometimes, in order to heal, we need to get some equilibrium first.
I know a lot of people who spend all their time acting like they’re feeling great when they’re not, and that’s a terrible way to live. I’m not talking about a permanent move toward acting like things are perfect. I’m not talking about lying to yourself or anyone else when things are really tough right now.
I’m talking about setting into motion a habit of functioning as though the world is still turning. It’s really the sort of thing people mean when they talk about putting one foot in front of the other. So here are three steps to get your started.
Routines are really good for you
Making choices is tiring. While running away and doing and seeing new things sounds exciting, our brains were built to do the same thing, over and over again. This is probably why traveling is so tiring, but that’s another blog post. This one is about recovery and getting into a routine just might be the most important thing that you do.
Having to make decisions literally wears you down. When we are forced to make a lot of decisions, we have less physical stamina, procrastinate more, and are more likely to quit when we don’t succeed. Our judgment isn’t as sound and we’re more likely to make mistakes.
A routine is the antidote. Getting up, going through the motions is a powerful first step in recovery, even if it doesn’t feel like it means anything right away.
Visualizing: Your brain thinks it’s real life
Research has shown that visualizing their best possible selves helped college students improve their mood in just a few weeks, that visualizing winning may give Olympic athletes a competitive edge, and that visualization exercises helped reduce anxiety and improve public speaking performance. It’s no stretch to think that visualizing yourself achieving your goals might get you in the mindset to achieve them, or at least take those first steps back on the road to trying. It takes intense courage to get back on our feet after the wind gets knocked out of us, so why not use that time on the ground to visualizing yourself not only getting back up, but overcoming?
We are meant for human connection. The research is plentiful and unequivocal: we need social supports. But this is also one of the most difficult things to access when we feel like doing nothing more than crawling under the covers. See if you can power through: even if it’s just to text a friend to tell them you feel like crap. Actually, having a standing “affirmation buddy” arrangement can be handy. What’s an affirmation buddy? Well it works like this:
You text your buddy that you feel like crap.
Your buddy reminds you that you are in fact, amazing and that this feeling will pass.