A Roadmap For the Blues

^^ Photo by my favorite illustrator Zoe Si. ^^

This week was a week where absolutely nothing worked. I got sick, my cat got sick, my heat in my building broke, I fell behind on work assignments, I ended up canceling all my social engagements. By Friday the Mercury of my world had so fully retrograded that the only thing to do was eat Indian food and drink Aperol spritzes in yoga pants on my best friend’s couch.

Going into each week, I tend to set some high, and highly planned, expectations for the seven days ahead, and most the time, it works. But this week, after trying and failing to keep my original game plan afloat, I finally threw my hands up in the air and decided to lean into the chaos. It wasn’t the week I had hoped for, but it was the week I was having, and a week that was only going to be made harder without any sort of self-care. Once I gave myself permission to just relax and be, my retrograding Mercury week turned into an almost comical collision of calamities.

Should you also be experiencing one of those weeks, here’s a tiny roadmap I used to help get me out of the blues and back on my feet.

Drink a glass of water. I always used to roll my eyes when I’d see this written as the number one piece of advice on listicles for dealing with stress. But it turns out it’s on those lists because IT. TOTALLY. WORKS. And if nothing else, it gives you a minute to reset and refill before diving back into the day.

Take a shower. When I’m stressed out I tend to hole up in comfy mismatched clothes, hair in a greasy bun, and smudged glasses. While awesome for lounging, when in the right mood, this look can also keep me hibernating in my rut for longer than is helpful. Showering off the stress, putting on some mascara, and putting my hair in a french braid might not solve the blues at hand but they do help me feel more confident in conquering them.

Turn on your favorite song and start singing. Or start dancing around your apartment. I’m no scientist but I am absolutely positive that jamming out to your favorite songs (which can be as happy as “Dance With Somebody” or as heartfelt as “Tell Him”) can get you out of your head and change your mood. I’ll be honest, I spent a good 30 minutes today sitting on my couch singing to a Broadway covers playlist with such abandon that I woke up my cats who normally only awake for food. Did my neighbors love it? Uh … yeah … sure they did. Did my heart love it? Absolutely.

So the next time you need someone to duet to John Mayer’s entire “Continuum” album just send me a text that says, “It’s time,” and I’ll be there.

Take inspiration from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and phone a friend. This might seem like an obvious one but when I’m deep in the blues I tend to hide away in a cave. Even though I know it will make me feel better to talk to a loved one, I find it hard to reach out to people when I don’t feel my best self. So maybe start with a text or a short phone call with someone who gets you and the situation. If you want to make real leaps, go see a friend for coffee or have them come over for take out and a movie. It’s all based on what brings you comfort and less anxiety, but being around people does seem to have the quiet, magical ability to bring you out of the blues even if just for a little while.

Go for a walk around the block. Or if you’re feeling up for it, go to a workout class. Some blues dig deep into your motivation and an hour yoga class can feel impossible, so start where you’re at. Turn on a 15 minute  exercise video (I really love Carly Rowena) or take a walk to a coffee shop and grab a treat. Getting out of your space will help you get out of your head and if you’re being plagued by repetitive anxious thoughts, approach yourself with kindness and guide your mind back to center. Remember this is all just part of being a human with a complexly wired (and weird) human brain.

Complete one annoyingly adult thing you’ve been putting off. For me, it’s either hand wash or anything financial. I put off rolling over my IRA for 9 months and when I finally called to have it taken care of, it took three minutes. *face palm*

Doodle. There is something really cathartic about putting pen to paper without expectations. If you’re a journal-er, do a free write or if the words feel stuck, start doodling how you’re feeling. Whenever I write I feel lighter the more the words and thoughts leave me, as if now that they’re written down, I don’t need to be responsible to carrying them around and remembering them. When you take your blues to the page ask yourself, is there anything I can fix right now? If not, just let them. A resolution will come soon enough and you don’t need to have it all figured out today (or tomorrow for that matter!)

Set a timer for eleven minutes and tidy. I learned this trick from muchelleb and now when I’m feeling entirely out of sorts, I set a timer and do a quick clean. Just getting clutter out of my space can make a huge difference between me feeling overwhelmed and me being able to come up with a new game plan.

Watch “Queer Eye.” That show can solve all problems. Or if you’re me, watch a period detective series. I still think fondly upon the time my insomnia lead me to a “Pride and Prejudice” mystery series that pretty much collided all of my favorite things into one.

Give yourself the space and the time to find comfort. If things aren’t working right now, take a step back and reevaluate. Most things are not as pressing as we make them out to be and rarely are they worth sacrificing our own mental and physical health.

Be there for yourself just as you would be for a friend. Rest when you’re tired. Move when your body craves movement, and snuggle on the couch with a book when you need comfort. You’re allowed the space and time with yourself. It’s not a matter of deserving it for you deserve all the biggest, and smallest things, your world has to offer, it’s about letting yourself be. And not to spoil the big secret, but everything will still be there when the chaos calms down and your blues bid you farewell.

Just beTake a deep breath and remember this isn’t forever. Sometimes you just have to let the day be what it is and try again tomorrow. Or if your cat has a bladder infection and your house suddenly becomes covered in a perpetual layer of dust that you CANNOT get rid of, you just have to let it be what it is and know that tomorrow it will be better (and hopefully cleaner). 

Today, please know you’re showing up the best you can and that’s enough. More than enough actually! And the world is better for it. So give yourself some love, and maybe a key lime bar, and we’ll try again tomorrow. Deal?

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