End of summer often leaves me feeling tired and slightly apathetic so I wanted to write down a list of things that make me feel better and help me pick myself up from any bad mood/rut I’ve been stuck in and help me become more productive and creative.
I decided to share it here because, you never know, maybe someone will read it and find it helpful as well :)
First of all, I’m no yoga evangelist and I’m not that person who, when you tell them you’re feeling down will yell at you to start doing yoga! I know that type and, no, I’m not one of them, but since yoga has been keeping me sane for the last few years I can tell where they’re coming from. So, yes, let’s talk about it.
I’ve always been pretty active person that enjoyed working out (although I haven’t done any sports since I was like 14 and that didn’t go very well because I’m not competitive by nature, I mean who the fuck cares which team wins in a handball game, right?) but I do need regular intense physical activity (and no, not just that particular intense physical activity, you with the dirty mind, you).
Few years ago I got into weight lifting after not having much experience with it and shortly afterwards I injured my lower back doing dead lifts. I needed to rest to let my back heal but I don’t seem to know how to rest so I kept training and re-igniting the back injury. Finally I gave up and decided to just do something really easy. For some reason I thought doing yoga was really easy. I took my first class and spent 45 minutes in agony realizing how incredibly stiff and blocked I was. I almost broke down in tears. I mean I was not out of shape or inflexible or anything, something else was hard about it but I didn’t know how to articulate what exactly, it made me feel a lot of resistance and I made up my mind that I hate yoga and I’ll never do it again. But I kept doing it, who knows why. My low back healed, but not really, every now and then it would flare up for no apparent reason and it would hurt like hell. It had no medical reason to ache at all.
In November 2016. I had one of those oh, no my back is killing me and for no reason at all again episodes and I decided to do some yoga to help ease the pain. I begun by warming up my spine, doing some cat to cow variations and after my practice something truly amazing, almost magical happened. I have physically experienced pain leaving my body, as if there was a bullet or a tip of a broken arrow stuck in my low back causing chronic pain and suddenly it was gone, in an instant, gone, never to return. I felt amazing and healed, born-again and 15 kilos lighter and then absolutely blissed out. It was first time I truly became aware that sometimes what seems a physically injury can be an energy block and that sometimes mindful combination of breath and gentle movement can bring instant healing. In that moment I also had an epiphany of sorts and learned a lesson of necessity of finding balance in my life and not constantly pushing myself forward (a lesson I need to remind myself of right now as well, tbh).
But, yes, in that moment I fully understood why so many people love yoga and why it’s such a huge trend, and no, I didn’t have any low back problems ever since that miraculous moment in November 2016 which I’m very grateful for. I still do yoga on the regular, I don’t do any fancy stuff, just aim to keep my spine and mind healthy. Every time I need something extra to pick me up I turn to my yoga practice knowing it will make a positive difference.
Aimlessly wandering around (going for long walks/photo walks)
Sometimes, if I’m forced to stay indoors for too long I feel like an animal trapped in a cage and I even start behaving as one, pacing nervously up and down the room (driving everyone around me crazy hehe) so, regardless of weather conditions I need to spend sometime outside every day, even for a little bit. Going for a long walk, when possible is one of my favorite activities and I don’t like setting any goals I prefer wandering around aimlessly, it’s way more fun to explore!
About a decade ago, when I was suffering from depression, going for long, aimless, exploitative walks helped me bring myself back to life. When I got depressed I decided not to take any meds or see a traditional therapist (even tho there’s nothing wrong with that, if you are depressed or otherwise mentally ill please do get a professional help, no shame in that, I just had my personal reasons not to) but to try and find alternative ways to help myself.
Symptoms of my depression were more physical than mental or emotional, I wasn’t so much anxious or sad as much as I’ve experienced complete physical exhaustion (while being perfectly healthy otherwise). I couldn’t function or get out of bed or move at all as I felt inexplicable heaviness pressing my body and my muscles, keeping me paralyzed. Intuitively I knew I needed to move, like get up and start moving. I wasn’t able to work out, after just 5 minutes of light cardio I would burst into tears and had to stop, not because I was sad but because I could feel heavy pain and stress filling every cell of my body, paralyzing my muscles.
But, I needed to move so I forced myself to go out and walk, walk it out. I thought if there is nothing else I can do, at least I can walk around. When possible I would just walk for hours until I’d get tired, but not tired from depression, actually tired from genuine physical exhaustion, hunger and thirst. With time I got better so I started to bring my camera with me and take pictures of everything and anything that caught my eye. My photos sucked but taking pics gave me additional motivation to keep moving and going for walks and also planted a seed that would later grow into passion for photography and one of my favorite hobbies.
Still, I love going for long walks with or without the camera. Sometimes, if I’m feeling playful I do something silly like taking a voice record with me and recording ambient sounds: traffic, wind, rain etc. I don’t do anything with those recordings, it’s just something kinda creative I like to do. Going for a walk always helps clear out my mind and makes me happier especially if I can wander around local parks or forest.
Creating morning routine to start the day right
Nope, I’m not a morning person, never was, but the older I get the more aware I’m becoming of benefits of starting your day early and having healthy morning routines. After I’ve been stuck in a bad mood or an unsatisfying routine for a long time, an easiest way for me to start picking myself up is to start getting up early, exercising, having something healthy for breakfast and then doing something important or productive before I continue with my day. If I feel I’m headed into a wrong direction establishing a healthy and productive morning routine usually helps me get back on track.
I first became aware of that few years ago when I got into running (oh, no, why did I ever wanted to run?! That sucks :)) so I begun getting up earlier than usual to go for a run. At first, I hated it but wanted to keep up so I motivated myself by going for a jog along the path that led to a field where I could see a bunch of horses grazing. So, every morning I’d get up early and go jogging so I could see horses and say hello to them. It made my whole day better. Sadly, after some time I noticed horses were no longer there and I asked a friend about it. To my shock and horror she explained that those horses belonged to a farm and were slaughtered for food and turned into sausages! It got me very sad so I stopped jogging.
Anyway, I digressed I just wanted to say that getting up early and doing something good for your body (working out, eating right) makes a difference in your whole day and just makes you more creative and productive overall.
After writing this short list I realized that it's easiest for me to feel better by engaging in some physical activity :) There are other stuff that also help, like journaling or sketching or listening to music as well as spending time with people I love, of course while avoiding toxic assholes as much as possible :)