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Is it still February? It's been years!

Today's newsletter was inspired by a friend who asked for suggestions about what to do when energy runs low. It's also inspired by the chilly, low-light blah of February, my least favourite month. (With apologies to readers on the other side of the equator, who are looking forward to a nice cool winter – perhaps this newsletter will be helpful in August?)

Getting Out of a Hole

Sometimes you're just miserable – the dust bunnies you happily ignored yesterday are intolerable today, the neighbour's previously quirky taste in music is now pretentious and unendurable — in fact, everything is ugly and stupid. Achieving any task, no matter how trivial, seems impossible, and your soft warm bed is the only tolerable place on the entire planet.

In his magnum opus, "Oh, the Places You'll Go", Dr. Suess says "Un-slumping yourself is not easily done". Not easily done, true, but there are a few things you can try which might help. Or at least keep you busy until the mood lifts on its own.

But before I begin — you know how I feel about giving advice. And yet, here I am, giving advice. So I'm going to call this, let's say, offering suggestions. Some of this stuff might be useful and some of it might not, so take what you like and leave the rest.
Diagram depicting Maslow's heirarchy of needs
Start at the bottom of Maslow's heirarchy, with physical needs. Do what you can to get the sleep you need, drink as much water as you want, eat the kind of food that makes you feel physically and emotionally nourished.

Move your body — whether that means getting out for a leisurely walk, chair yoga, or lacing up the skates, do something every day to get your blood pumping.

I love that this graphic lists "warmth" as a basic need — I think the need is probably more like "environmental temperature regulation" or just "shelter", but being too cold all winter is definitely a factor in my February slump. My mood improved significantly this year when I put a small heater in my bedroom to blast hot air at my feet while I get dressed in the morning.

To the usual list of physiological needs I would add time in nature, or at least time outside (preferably in the morning, to help with the sleep thing). I don't know if the science backs this up as general advice (yet), but it definitely works for me.

The next thing to stir into your brew of happiness is other humans. (Oo, that came out more cannibalistic than I meant it to.) Again, do this in the way that works for you, whether that's a one-on-one conversation with someone who makes you feel good, a get-together with the whole crew, or an hour or two at a cafe or the mall, surrounded by people but not having to converse.

In low-energy times I particularly appreciate regular, structured social engagements that don't require a bunch of coordination (because who has the energy?) Book club every five weeks, Puzzled Pint once a month, a class or choir practice or worship every week, a regular painting or walking date with a friend — when you're feeling energetic, do yourself a favour and sign up for a couple of regular activities that will help get you out of the house when you're blue. (Best if they're things you can't easily skip!)

And last but not least, try to roll with it. It's natural for things to ebb and flow, and energy and mood are no different. The last thing you need is to feel guilty or anxious about being in a slump. Accept that your body and mind need a break and some gentle tending, and don't push yourself to be as productive or sociable as you are in higher-energy times.

By the way — just like a fever or cough, if this feeling goes on for weeks and nothing seems to shift it, definitely seek help. My cute list of pick-me-ups is no substitute for professional care, and you definitely don't need to be "pulling yourself together" or "looking on the bright side".

 

What's New

As I skillfully foreshadowed in my last newsletter, I did indeed finish Practicum on Tuesday. I wish I had passed with flying-er colours than I did, but I ticked all the boxes and they gave me the bit of paper, so that's cool. My next professional development hurdle is a skill test called the Adler Certified Professional Coach test, but I'm going to have to polish up a few stubborn skills before I'm ready to attempt that. Need more guinea pigs...

Fun and Interesting

  • We often undervalue what we inherently do well. Whitney Johnson writes about why talented people often don't use their best strengths because they simply don't recognize them, and gives some suggestions about how you can identify the superstrengths which come so naturally that you take them for granted. Why Talented People Don't Use Their Strengths [getpocket.com]
  • If the news coverage of the new virus is annoying but you still want to know what's going on, go straight to the source with the WHO's daily situation reports. It's like a weather report but for disease. COVID-19 Situation Reports [who.int]
  • Cognitive biases are those little assumptions and shortcuts that our brain takes to save us from the exhausting task of reinterpreting the entire world every second. There are hundreds of them, and John Manoogian III has compiled them all in an attractive graphical summary. Full disclosure – I'd probably have to look up more than half of these. There are a lot! Cognitive Bias Codex, also available in Russian and French. [wikimedia.org]

Thank you for reading this far!

If you like what you read, hit reply and let me know, or forward it and let someone else know. If you have questions or comments, hit reply and let me know. If you have seen something interesting out there, hit reply and let me know. Are you seeing a trend here? If so... hit reply and let me know! I look forward to hearing from you. ❤️

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Copyright © 2020 Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching, All rights reserved.


I live and work on land which for thousands of years has been part of the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat. Today, this meeting place is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island, and I am glad to be able to live and work here.

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