What to do when you’re feeling ‘blah’
Here in Canberra, it’s nearing the end of winter. Whilst we are teased with the occasional glimpse of spring – the flower of a spring bulb unfurling, a clear, sunny day, or the scent of flowers on the breeze, we are not quite done with winter yet, and may still experience the odd cold snap. It’s this time of year I often recognise people struggling the most. They’re done with the cold days and nights, longing for balmy summer evenings and time outside.
In our month of grace, I thought it would be fitting for my final post on grace to focus on ways we can get ourselves out of a funk or overcome a case of the ‘blahs’.
These are the nine main things I do to shift negative energy when I’m feeling a bit flat. I hope you find some of these ideas helpful the next time you need a lift.
Many of us have been conditioned to believe we need to be happy all the time. And if we’re not, then there’s something wrong with us. But this is simply not how life works. Life is a full spectrum of feelings – a rainbow of emotions, if you will. Without the icky feelings, there would be no contrast, and life wouldn’t feel so sweet when everything was going well. So, the first thing I do when I’m feeling ‘blah’ is to acknowledge it. Welcome that anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach – even if it’s there for no reason! You don’t need to analyse or judge your feeling, just acknowledge its presence and sit with it for a while. Don’t be in a rush to deny the way you’re feeling, or move the feeling on. When you’re ready, here are some other things you can do to help move through the feeling.
After acknowledging my feelings, I like to refocus, and take stock of where I am. I don’t do this to beat myself up about my shortcomings or any lack of progress. I do this to make sure I’m focusing on the right things, and moving in alignment with my goals and values. Taking a moment to lift your head up to get your bearings and check you’re moving in the right direction, rather than being so focused on the map that you walk off a cliff is always beneficial!
I like to review my goals, and make sure they’re all still relevant. Do I still want to work towards all of my goals, or have my priorities changed? Maybe I just need to focus on one goal at a time so I feel like I’m making progress, before returning my focus to the others.
This brings me to the next thing I do when I’m feeling ‘blah’, which is to focus on one job at a time. For most people, life is full and busy, so it is very easy to slip into a feeling of overwhelm, which can in itself make you feel ‘blah’. If you can’t get everything done, what’s the point, right?
I like to pick one thing from my list and do it. It doesn’t matter what it is, but I always select something small and achievable – just something to move the needle forward. Doing one little thing that propels you in the right direction creates momentum. Make that call, send that email, pay that bill, tidy one small area in your home. Just do ONE THING. Something. Anything. You’ll be surprised how taking one small step will encourage you to take the next one, then the next one…
I don’t know about you, but when I’m surrounded by physical clutter, my mind feels cluttered too. My next suggestion is to clear off your desk. I once had a boss who would clear off her desk every day. And I mean EVERYTHING! The only thing remaining on her desk was her computer. I often wondered how she had the time, as I sat at my desk, drowning under files and sample garments. I’ve since realised that the time she spent tidying her desk each day (which was only a few minutes, because she did it consistently) would have taken far less time than it took me to find that ‘all important piece of paper’ buried under the pile on my desk.
Now, let’s not go too crazy here – I’m not suggesting you declutter your whole house (although you can if you want to, and then come and do mine!). This might feel too overwhelming if you’re feeling ‘blah’. I’m simply suggesting tidying one small area (preferably the one that’s getting under your skin the most), which for me is often my workspace. In fact, in our household, I have earned myself the reputation of ‘desk-thief’ because I abandon my workspace when it gets too messy and invade someone else’s. Kind of like a parasitic Cuckoo, invading another bird’s nest! Pick the area that will have the biggest impact for you, such as your dining table or kitchen bench and spend 5-15 minutes tops clearing it off.
My next strategy for shaking the ‘blahs’ is to simply walk away. This approach is excellent if something in particular is bothering you, such as a challenging problem, person, or piece of work, something you’re trying to fix that doesn’t appear to want to be fixed…even your kids if they’re getting on your nerves.
Walking away worked particularly well for me when I was learning pattern cutting at university. Pattern cutting can be a fun challenge, but there are days when it is down-right frustrating. Rather than succumbing to the frustration, I ALWAYS found walking away for a few minutes – to grab a coffee, go to the bathroom – whatever – would work for me. I would return to the problem with fresh eyes and spot a solution straight away.
While we’re on the topic of walking, why not take it a step further and actually go for a walk. Physical movement, a little gentle sun exposure to boost your vitamin D levels, and fresh air in your lungs work wonders for shifting your mood. You don’t have to walk far – just around the block will often do it. But if you have the time, I recommend a longer walk. Grab some wireless headphones and listen to some uplifting music or an inspirational podcast or audiobook as you walk.
In fact, exposing yourself to anything inspiring can be a great Blah-Buster! Grab a book or magazine, listen to your favourite podcast, or try a new audiobook. Make a mental note of anything that inspires you when you come across it, so you can pull it out of your tool kit on blah days. There’s no harm in reading a book you’ve already read if it gives you good vibes. Personally, I’m a big fan of quotes and have curated a collection of my favourites in a spreadsheet I crack open and read through on days I’ve lost my sparkle.
Sometimes, the reason you’re feeling ‘blah’ is because you’re tired. You might have had a late night or not slept well the previous night. Whatever the reason, everything seems brighter in the morning after a good night’s sleep, so if you’re struggling, pop on your PJs and jump into bed to catch some extra ZZ’s. I also recommend a warm bath and a herbal Sleepy Tea to help you drift off a little quicker. Be sure to switch off your screens 30 minutes before bedtime too.
Rather than reading, I prefer to journal before bed, especially on days when I’m feeling flat. Journaling helps me get my thoughts and worries out of my head and onto paper, where they feel more manageable. I also like to take a few moments to journal about things I’m grateful for, as I find this puts my worries into perspective. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. It’s your journal and you can write as much or as little as you’d like.
So, there we have it – my nine ways to Bust the Blahs, which, to quickly recap are: acknowledge the feeling, refocus and review your goals, do just ONE thing to kickstart your motivation, clear your desk to clear your mind, walk away, move and get some fresh air, find some inspiration, get an early night, and finally, journal.
I’d love to know if any of these resonated for you, or what you do to Bust the Blahs. Drop me a DM on Facebook or Instagram so we can keep the conversation going.
I’ll leave you with this uplifting quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
“If you can’t fly, then run.
If you can’t run, then walk.
If you can’t walk, then crawl.
But whatever you do,
you have to keep moving forward.”