How I Got Myself Back to Feeling Well and Motivated After a Two-Week Low
It’s been 8 months now since I left the traditional workplace. The first couple of months felt like a vacation. By the time January rolled around and I got the motivation and vision I needed to launch this site, I woke up in the mornings and went straight to work, often times in my bathrobe. I didn’t turn on the TV, I didn’t take time to do anything when I woke up except slam back a spinach shake and pour my coffee. I pretty much rolled out of bed, sat at my computer as soon as possible, and let jazz classics croon me through the daily 16+ hour grind of building this site and writing articles.
All of a sudden, I wake up and realize it’s gonna be May and I start to feel the voices of self-doubt and anxiety creeping back into my head about all of my life choices. The voices come from a place of fear that I’m not where I want to be yet. The fear of uncertainty surrounding income starts to paralyze me. Or I’ve just seen someone’s incredibly luxurious home and a tornado of thoughts touches down in my mind that questions incessantly how I’m going to get myself that life as an entrepreneur. Two weeks of the whirling worries and all of a sudden I look in the mirror and realize I’m in a slump. A funk. A valley. My first road block as an entrepreneur that I can’t blame on anyone else but myself.
The symptoms started in all at once again, for a week: brain fog, inability to concentrate on any one thing at a time, not being able to get out of bed in the morning, always feeling tired, low productivity, feeling like I was in a hole and couldn’t dig myself out, and the culmination of it all was the first bed time panic attack I’d had in years. I pulled myself out of this slump and completely back to normal in a week and a half, and here is how I did it:
- Cleansing my body
After learning about food and how to eat to feel well two years ago, I know that I am actually in complete control of my mind through my food choices. Which is empowering. I checked in with myself and my eating habits over the past two months and realized I was off the wagon. While I was making healthier choices on the majority, I was still putting toxins into my system that have proven to turn my brain crazy and slow it down completely, and I can usually go a little while feeling pretty normal until the effects of inflammation hit me all at once like a ton of bricks. So, I needed to start from the inside out. I cut out caffeine, alcohol, dairy and most meat, drank 2L of water a day and ate super cleanly on this Amazing Grass 5 day detoxifying cleanse I found for $20 at the grocery store. I felt 10 x better after it was over, and my system felt like I had hit a reset button. The recipes were so fresh, delicious and easy that I’m now going to make them forever.
- Exercising every day
There is no easy way out of this one. Just go. Do something. I ran, went to yoga, tried aerial yoga with a friend. My body was holding too much tension and it needed to move. I felt like the Tinman and my machine needed oil: “oil…can….!” When you just do something, you feel the effects of it right away because exercise moves all of that stressed energy from its stuck points in your system. Now my brain is back to craving the movement every day and my discipline is back because I want to feel good. Also, I look better. And that never feels bad.
- Listening to podcasts
I was recommended the My Seven Chakras podcast by a friend recently. The host’s voice is soothing, the subjects are always about spirituality and mindfulness and finding your true calling, and the guests are gurus in their own fields. I found The Anxiety Guy podcast through My Seven Chakras, and started listening to him too, about his tricks to reduce anxiety naturally, by mindfully questioning his thoughts in moments of fear. Just listening to people giving motivating life hacks and discussing higher-level consciousness for an hour while eating breakfast and getting ready in the mornings can do wonders for setting your intention for the day.
- Practicing gratitude
I picked this up from one of the podcasts: before your feet hit the floor in the morning, think of 5 things that you’re grateful for. They can be simple, they can be significant. This gets you out of bed in a positive mindset.
- Meditating for 10 minutes every morning
If you don’t have the apps Headspace or Breathe, get them. They’re great. You can use them at any point during the day if you feel your stress boiling. Just find a space where you can take a 5 or 10 minute break, put your headphones in, and free your mind. It’s good to set yourself a routine time every day to do this too- I prefer the morning.
- Phoning a friend
Pick up the phone and call somebody you care about. Someone who makes you laugh. Someone who cares about you. Our heads are down in these damn devices all long day texting and commenting and sharing and liking…but that all feels empty compared to hearing a human voice on the other end of the phone. I called a friend, and within 30 minutes we were at a restaurant connecting, laughing, encouraging each other…and this particular friend also gave me the advice I needed to overcome a blogging challenge I was facing. I left inspired, rejuvenated, and smiling. Nothing can replace human interaction.
- Cutting my newsfeed time
This is a challenge for me because I now work in the digital space. I love it, but I too was comparing myself to my blogger / celebrity idols and it’s just unproductive. I look to them all for inspiration, but by obsessing over their feeds it means the authenticity and intention behind mine can easily become compromised. Even if you don’t work in the digital space, it’s the same thing. You can start to feel bitter and worried that your own life isn’t matching up to everyone else’s. Just put the phone down more and focus on enjoying the moments you are actually living in.
- Scheduling several face to face meetings
I am an extrovert. My creative process is fueled by a certain amount of uninterrupted alone time, but mostly by the time I spend interacting out in the world with other people. Face to face meetings with professional mentors and potential collaborators is a fast track to inspiration, and you’d be surprised how willing people are to help you and give feedback on a block you’re experiencing or a challenge you’re facing.
- Going to a networking event
I am a social being, that is no secret. But I think we all are. Meeting people gives you confidence. Seeing people again after years of only watching their lives unfold on Facebook feels really good. Meeting new people and pitching yourself kind of makes you feel like you have a super power for an hour. Reconnecting, connecting, learning…these are all things that make you walk away from an event feeling energized. A reminder that you’re not alone and that you need to “just get in there,” as my friend said to me a few days ago. Put yourself in the middle of everything and you will most likely walk away with a business lead, a new idea, a new connection, someone to collaborate with…this is very empowering and it can give you a renewed sense of purpose.
- Getting up, getting dressed, and going to an actual work place
At this big networking event I went to, I told a friend of mine about the first entrepreneur’s slump I was pulling myself out of. She made the suggestion that I join a co-working space. Duh…why didn’t I think of this? I know of these powerful collaborative incubator spaces that we have in San Antonio and I brag about them to other people, but somehow I hadn’t thought about being a part of one myself. I went home that night and joined Geekdom: $50 a month, and I now have 24/7 access to state-of-the-art facilities, peers, working space, a fridge, endless entrepreneurial resources, and a centralized location in the middle of downtown with a killer view…basically, I am putting myself in the room where it happens. And I bet I’ll reap benefits immediately, both personally and professionally.
After I did all of these things, something pretty miraculous happened. I woke up the next morning feeling motivated and like myself. I jumped out of bed at 6:30am ready to conquer life again. Unfortunately, our society is all about the quick fix. When really, success and health and wellness and happiness is actually about the maintenance. You owe it to yourself to maintain your mental and physical machine so that you can create your dream life. I hope some of these 10 steps that I took can help those of you who are feeling like you’re running on empty. Life is what you make it, and you always have the power to choose the way you face obstacles or experiences in your daily life.
Wishing you well and Happy Weekend!