my coping strategies for dealing with the mean reds
I’m not sure whether to refer to it as The Void or The Mean Reds. The former sounds very dark, intense and kind of Matrix-esque.
The latter would imply tearing up of the house is afoot in the manner of a slightly unhinged Holly Golightly. With George Peppard standing nearby, ready to provide solace when the feathers have settled.
I think I’ll take Audrey Hepburn over Keanu in this instance. Both wore a trench coat but Audrey’s was more classic Burberry.
Either way, I’m referring to the place that I’ve heard countless people describe to me as the one they’ve been to on and off these past couple of months.
The place inhabited by a cloud, generally formed at this time of year that follows you around, occasionally drizzling a persistent grey mist leaving you feeling damp and chilled to the bone.
Don’t be fooled by appearances…
It’s felt by those who have every reason to feel it – those dealing with grief, overwhelming challenges and exhaustion. But also those who perhaps to all intents and purposes look they’re just loving life and don’t have a care in the world.
To that I would say two things. Don’t be fooled by appearances and its all relative.
It’s not a good place to be and it can sneak up totally unexpectedly. It might last for a few days, a few weeks or a lot longer.
For me it comes and goes, bringing with it a sense of inertia and the feeling of wanting to curl up on the sofa under a blanket and not deal with the day to day minutiae of life.
I’ve had friends telling me the exact same thing. That they feel overwhelmed and are succumbing to that “What’s the point of it all?” feeling. The “it” being any number of things.
It makes them want to run away from what they’re doing right now or give it up and do something completely different in the hope that it might provide an easier life.
Now that spring is officially on the way and the days are starting to get lighter and longer, it somehow feels easier to face down that pesky cloud and talk about the things I do to help wait out the rain.
Three are personal and three are work related but combined, they all help to banish the mean reds, the pale blues and everything else in between…
Know that everybody else feels it too. In a world where we consistently share our very best highlight reel via social media and competition invades everything from work to parenthood, its easy to think that Mrs Positive or Mr Upbeat has it all.
…the one you think has their sh*t together 100% of the time…
This is complete BS! They go through the exact same thing as you – even those you look to for inspiration and motivation. Yes – the one you think has their sh*t together 100% of the time and has nothing to feel bad about.
When a good friend recently voiced what she was going through, I could have cried with relief to hear that she was feeling the very same things that I was.
We were under different pressures but she was sitting there thinking I was on top of it all and I was thinking she was the most together and in charge of her own destiny woman on the planet!
Little did we know until we spoke about it.
The relief of knowing someone else is feeling the same thing is priceless. That’s why I’m writing this post.
The Get Outside cliche
Get outside – especially whenever there’s sunlight involved. Get up, go out and bask in it as much as possible.
As much as I love only having myself to answer to as far as work is concerned, I’m not so keen on the feeling of isolation that sometimes comes with it.
But it’s amazing how different even a fifteen minute walk in the sunshine can make me feel. And a dog walk along the beach has felt like pure therapeutic bliss these last few weeks.
Being told to get out in the sun for some fresh air might feel like a cliche but generally, these things are cliches for a reason.
Whenever the weather plays ball and the sun is out, I’m being kinder to myself and taking a break.
A change is as good as a rest
Don’t they say a change is as good as a rest? Whoever they might be.
The morning came around and sure enough, I was berating myself for planning on taking the majority of the day away from my desk.
And then after a drive though the countryside to Stockbridge listening to a podcast or two, I found myself in my favourite boutique sat with a group of like minded women, all doing our very best to make pretty inky marks on paper.
The very act of repeatedly attempting to paint the letters of the alphabet in beautiful black ink stopped all the inner chatter and allowed me to focus. On that and nothing else.
I might have even found a new switch off pastime. In monochrome of course.
A bit of self preservation never hurt anyone…
A wise person recently said to me, sometimes, when it comes to business and you’re feeling like you don’t know what to tackle next, you just have to focus your effort where the money is.
This really helps me when I’m having those days when I feel overwhelmed and pushed and pulled in too many directions. Actually, what’s going to work best for me and my business? That’s where I’ll turn my attention to today.
A bit of self preservation never hurt anyone.
To Do lists. Can’t live with ’em – can’t live without ’em!
Whilst I need them to stay on top of it all (and serve as the perfect excuse to feed the ongoing stationery habit), they also form a constant reminder of my failings to tick off all their components.
…my notebook was mocking me from the corner of my desk…
My over added to, scribbled mess of a notebook was mocking me from the corner of my desk on Friday afternoon. Again.
So I took charge and split those To Do’s into one longer term ongoing list and another for the must-do’s for Monday. I still may not tick off all those items but at least I’m getting some way to achieving the immediate priorities.
And I got some peace of mind over the weekend.
Feel the fear…
When the stress creeps in and it feels like I’m failing, I’m trying to adopt a new feel the fear and do it anyway strategy.
I face up to what the worst case scenario will actually be if I don’t achieve X, Y, Z (and A, B & C) and you know what? I’d survive it.
The world won’t actually end in any of those scenarios in my head, I can pick up and carry on in 99% of them and the other one? Well that’ll just be chalked up to a learning experience.
When you break it all down, it’s sometimes clear that all the pressure we heap on ourselves simply isn’t worth it.
I hope you find a couple of these strategies useful if you’re going through or have been through a similar phase recently.
Even if its just knowing that someone feels the same as you.
And there’s always the mantra on my favourite coffee cup – Everyday Is A Fresh Start. A little reinvention is a good for the soul!