The winter’s in Vermont can get long . Shorter days, less light, colder temps, more time inside, and less in nature. This can cause many to over the months develop the winter blues, blahs, and can turn into a slump.
While we can easily see what the blahs can be all about and feel like, there might be more of a question around what an actual slump is. How do we know when we reach slump status? And when does it go beyond a slump?
Looking at one of the definitions of the word slump- to decline or deteriorate as health, business, quality or efficiency, and another- to sink heavily, as in the spirits- we can start to gather that a slump may be longer lasting cuts deeper that the blahs. It may start with blahs and as it continues over time, the compounding of low spirits, lack of motivation, discouragement, low activity will start to take over. Sometimes it is hard to notice when you are in the midst of it, so you have to really be willing to be honest with yourself, and talk with someone you trust to help you to identify it, if you are not sure. Taking action on some of the ideas in this post may help to break a true slump- if these things are not working or you or someone you know is not even able to attempt to take action, there may be something deeper, like true depression, going on and this is time to talk with a doctor as soon as possible.
Negativity is almost always present with a slump.
The opposite of a slump? Blessing, boon, increase, success- from dictionary.com- so how do we bridge from slump to success?
Besides the Winter time reasons for heading toward a slump, a big contributing factor to a slump is not taking time for yourself and getting burned out. Despite hearing for years that taking care of yourself first before you can do your best in every area of your life, people still seem to think that is selfish, or a luxury, or feel more comfortable being busy, than being quiet and slowing down. Slow down to speed up is good advice. Rest. What a concept!
Over the years I have developed the ability to see a slump on the horizon. I have developed many habits that I keep going all year long which keep me from reaching that point. My clients and friends have experienced slumps and worked their way out in a variety of ways. What I have learned from this is that there is no one right way to break a slump, it is very personal. The one thing that is universal- get awareness and take action. If what you do doesn’t work, it’s information and you go to the next thing. You will find what works for you.
Here are a list (in no order of importance) of things you can do to break your blahs and slump. As you read the ideas, feel which ones resonate with you the most and start there. These have been gathered from all of the sources I mentioned above and some, as you will see, are very personal. Allow these to inspire you to find what’s right for you. Also, realize that even if you love what you do, everyone needs rest and adequate amounts of it. In the yoga works we refer to yin and yang. Our world is filled to the brim with yang energy and action right now. We may need massive amounts of yin to offset it- more than you thing- slowing down, reflection, breathing, thinking.
First thing (for everyone)- take a (real) day off, preferable two asap! Even if it seems that you can not do it because you are just too busy- you will come back to whatever it is that needs to be done fresh and ready to go. Spend the day doing all thinks that you enjoy. (or used to )
What people do to get out of a slump:
Get out in nature- walk or exercise, sit in the park, outdoor cafe.
Read a good book that entertains or inspires you.
Got to a show at your local theatre or hear live music.
Journal about how you are feeling and write out a description of how you want to feel and what you want to be accomplishing and pick one action per day to start loving in that direction.
Watch a movie.
Surround yourself with beauty.
Watch favorite tv shows
Spend time with a friend or friends
One friend noted (especially for Winter time related blahs) visiting greenhouses to get filled with that springtime feeling!
A client likes to write- poetry, short stories, she likes to get outside even in the Winter- she makes herself- to hear the birds sing which cheers her. She also mentioned using a salt lamp has made a big difference, so check that out.
See a nutritionist to make sure that your levels of vitamin D and more are in a good place to support you.
Cook a meal or bake if you enjoy it -create something!
Moving forward, formulate the plan to put into place to make sure to keep you from getting to slump in the future.
Ongoing activities that can work:
Listen to inspiring podcasts and read books that keep you up and engaged.
Scheduled thinking, planning, reading time every day and week and month.
Regular exercise that tires you out balanced with exercise that keeps you centered in your body. (Check with Doctor). I like a combination of spinning 3 times a week, walking dogs daily (no matter the weather- actually a pet can be very helpful in staying out of a slump!), and then yoga class several times a week.
Meditation- I recommend the Insight Timer app- it’s free and perfect for all levels- this one thing has totally changed my life for the better.
Take regular retreats to rejuvenate – I like a nice yearly one, quarterly retreats for an hour or two, go away to a summer retreat, learn something new and go away to study it.
Change up your environment- take your work to another room or another place altogether. Take trips- day or longer- whatever is available to you.
Body treatments like massages, etc (check with your Doctor if you are not sure), on a regular basis.
Some resources that might cause you to think big about taking some time for a break are Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. And Stefan Sagmeister’s Ted Talk titled-The Power of Time Off- these have both been inspiring to me. I was also listening to a podcast- the Art of Charm podcast- and someone they mentioned taking the idea that Stefan S. talks about and changes the time frame to fit their life now- so think big- be inspired and play around with what works best for you. Turn this into a fun game- get excited about the possibilities.
The truth is- the search to find the keys to break your slump can actually bring you out on the other side to a bigger, brighter life than before the slump.
Everything you do can put you in that place for more results, enjoyment and success in all areas of life!
Please share things you do to break a slump or move past blahs in the comment section!