I don't know if it's being extremely broke, getting to the end of my 20s, or getting a lot of professional rejection lately, but I've been DOWN. I always oscillate between pretty extreme moods, like "If I don't eat now I will surely die," and "I just saw a baby animal and I'm going to sob now," and "what is the fucking point of this, I hate everyone." *Sigh*.
But getting up each morning (or mid morning, or afternoon, as the case may be) and putting one foot in front of the other has been a challenge for me lately. So here are a few ideas I've been trying this month, which may or may not help you too:
1. I'm taking a month off drinking any kind of alcohol. I think there's a time and place for boozin' and for me it's when I'm celebrating (NOT getting tequila drunk alone at 4 PM because that Zeppelin song I love is on and the one thing I applied for this morning hasn't gotten back to me immediately). Blowing off steam and having fun with my friends are a huge stress relief for me, and I think it's an important part of life. But when I'm as broke as I am and struggling to stay disciplined, now is not the time. It's so effortless to waste an entire day and then allow myself a few drinks (or seven) to say "fuck it" because I wasted the morning and afternoon anyway and I'm feeling terrible about it. As an isolated incident, saying fuck it sometimes is no big deal, however, more often than not, once I start; I stay up later, eat crappier things, feel worse in the morning, and then get even less done the next day. Rinse and repeat, it's a cycle.
Generally, I feel better when I'm allowing myself special treats after I "earn" them. Like working out and cooking myself healthy food all week, and then going out for a special, decadent meal on the weekend. It just feels better. Waiting for something you want always builds anticipation and makes it 100 times more fun (not that there isn't space for spontaneity, but in general). So I'm taking a month off the spirits and then assessing how I feel and what I've accomplished. I already feel a lot better and have been a more productive, unfortunately for my love of tequila and wine. I'm jealous of people that seem to be able to drink without consequences. Ideally I think I'll save the drunkie nights out for a 2-3 times a month. Wish me luck.
2. I'm forcing myself to do something physical, every single fucking day. I let myself take too many "chill days" after a hardcore work day or heavy duty workout a couple of days before. If I don't leave the apartment all day (which in NYC I'm tempted to do, because going out is often so much work), my mood is always darker and less productive. While our muscles need rest after serious weight lifting; stretching, walking, and other gentle activities are plenty to help uplift a mood (even if pulling myself off the couch is as hard as your boyfriend when you told him my album is dropping this year if I can get my shit together). As much as I hate it, going to the gym first thing in the morning, even before I've had coffee, absolutely works. There's a reason people do it like that. I've been convincing myself that I'll "go later" for too long. But double showers? Hair and makeup AGAIN if I have somewhere to be? NO. JUST GET IT DONE BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE. YOU'LL FEEL BETTER.
3. Forcing myself to make and finish a practical list that I can complete every day, one that doesn't only involve washing my hair and cooking healthy tacos (both are crucial and time consuming so SHUSH). Because I have random (tiny) streams of income and several creative projects going on at once, this is really important to make sure I stay accountable. Being productive makes me feel better about myself. Always.
4. Using social media to my advantage. I just had one of those amazing, effortless dinners with a friend from back home while I was in Iowa. The kind of night where you leave the dinner table feeling 10 lbs lighter and inspired to go after the things you want in life. During our time together we were talking about how hard it is to stay motivated when you're an individual working on a creative project alone; one that makes you no money and that no one else cares about. It's tempting to doubt yourself and the project when you're feeling tired or run down and it's too convenient to put other tasks first.
I realized that when I compare what I want to work on for myself to the projects my friends or loved ones have asked me to complete (paid or not), I always have no issue prioritizing and making things happen. When it's just for myself? Better believe I'll find some way to manipulate myself into believing that the main priority at that moment is protein, and everything else will come after I've recouped my losses from this morning's workout.
So how do I use the internet when I'm down? I use it to create deadlines for myself, for example: I want to finish 3 blog posts this week. I need to finish writing a song to post on my Soundcloud account. I need to get in touch with a photographer to shoot this outfit in order to post something by the end of the month. Etc. Even when no one looks at what I post (which is often), it keeps me busy. It keeps me productive. It keeps me happier.
And when I'm depressed, what is my Instagram mantra? DO NOT LOOK AT PROFILES THAT MAKE ME FEEL TERRIBLE, INCLUDING THE GIRLS WHO ARE BUYING FOLLOWERS AND EDITING THE FUCK OUT OF THEIR PICTURES AND BEING GENERALLY AWFUL. Yeah those, the ones stealing jobs from me and my food baby's mouth
. Don't look there. It won't help anyone.
5. Drinking a gallon of water every day. I don't know why, it just works (mine tastes like oranges from last night right now, yuck).
6. Keep good food in the house. Limiting takeout to once a week while cooking my own meals helps my body and mind so much. I love Chinese food more than most people you know, but the stomach ache, guilt and high levels of sodium tend to slow me down the next day, especially after a late-night-eat-too-much-while-watching-10-episodes-of-whatever-the-fuck.
7. Limit screen time, but use it as a treat to get you to do things you don't want to do. Example: stretching really makes me feel better. But I never want to do it. Know what makes me get it done? Doing it during a coffee break after the gym or later on in the day while I put an episode of something trashy on. Might seem distracting, but in my experience, bribery always works for me. This is about results, not perfection, people.
8. Go the fuck to bed. And get the fuck out of bed. I've always been a terrible sleeper and continue to have trouble with insomnia and getting the right amount of rest. This can obviously affect my mood and productivity immensely. This may be the most important point: If I consistently get up and go to bed at around the same time, I always sleep better and feel better. And if I could manage to stay on a good rest schedule while ignoring all of the other points, I probably would. During college and after years of working nights I've had a terrible, irregular schedule that I'm still trying to fix. Living in NYC doesn't help (what with bar close being 4 am, see point number one). I'm not perfect, but forcing myself to get the hell out of bed at a reasonable time, not allowing naps, and requiring bedtime before midnight always makes me feel like life might just be worth living some days.
Those are my 8 points for this month. What're you doing to stay "up" this fall? XOXO.