a tiny trick to help you feel better on off days

Off days. I have them. I’m guessing you have them, too. Even when we’re riding the wave of life’s good times, falling in love and running through fields of tulips, off days just happen.
So what do you do when they come along?

You can mope about them. (I’ve tried this one.) You can also work yourself into a frenzy wondering what they mean about your worth as a person. (This has been known as a favorite of mine.) You can tell yourself to suck it up and soldier on. (I’ve found that this one hurts, and also results in emotional explosions; ouch.)

On the more helpful side of the spectrum, you can say to yourself,
“Oh, Self, we’re having an off day.
We’re allowed to have an off day.
These happen to everybody.

We’re going to allow ourselves to be here, and employ any tricks we know that could help us feel better ’til we get to  the other side.”

This is where we arrive today’s lesson: a helpful trick that can help us feel better ’til we get to the other side (and even, maybe, carry us there).

Here’s the lesson:

Do something.
Do a very small thing. Actually, do something so small that it’s laughable to think it’s going to have any effect on how you feel. Something like brushing your teeth or throwing a piece of paper in the trash.

After that, you have options.

If you’d like, you can get in bed and stay there for the rest of the day. You’ll have done one thing, which will, quite possibly, make you feel better about yourself than if you’d done nothing.

Alternately, you can do one more small thing, if you feel like it. After you brush your teeth, you might feel like showering. After showering, maybe you’ll feel like getting dressed. After that, maybe you’ll decide to do an errand.

I often experience a wonderful snowball effect when I employ this trick: I start out with a teeny-tiny, barely-more-than-lying-in-bed action, then am proud of myself and want to experience that good feeling again, so I do a slightly larger action. Then I feel glad I did that thing, and I want to do another thing. After a string of tiny actions, I feel almost like my normal self. More than that, I don’t feel the guilt of having “wasted” a day, which makes it even more likely that I’ll wake up the next morning and slide comfortably into life as usual.

Escaping from the trenches of yuck can actually — really — be gentle, simple and gradual. What a relief.

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