Day 620, How You Can Bounce Back After a Sag

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8, 9).
Occasionally, the stress and worry of current events mess up our plans and routines, sending us into a sag.  This blog entry is about getting back on track–bouncing back after a sag.
I. First, recognize the slump or sag.
II. Second, determine what is missing that could turn things around.
III. Third, get help to put that activity (back) in your life.
IV. Fourth, develop a blend of old and new strategies that work together to get you out of the slump and help you bounce back.
V. Fifth, celebrate your progress.
VI. Sixth, do not forget your gratitude practice.
Dear Lord,
There seems to be a switch in me that says, “Depressed” or “Not Depressed.”  When I am depressed, everything is a chore.  When I am not depressed, everything is joy.  It is almost that dramatic.
How can I keep that switch flipped over to the “Not Depressed” side?  If I cannot always do that, how can I switch things back quickly and efficiently?
At the first of the pandemic, I was still sailing along.  Everything was okay.  It did not seem to affect my lifestyle much at all.  Gradually, it wore me down.  I was dragging.  I could no longer do much of anything except worry about what the next effect of the pandemic would be.
It was not much longer that I realized I was depressed again, depressed, and anxious.  This blog entry is about some of the things I learned while digging back out of this hole, things I think will be useful to my readers.
Bless my readers with curiosity so that they can glean helpful info for their own lives.  

I. First, Recognize the Slump or Sag.

Usually, I notice depression by a heaviness in my chest and a feeling of not wanting to do anything.  This time, my symptoms were more subtle, perhaps not as serious, but still depression.  I keep a checklist to score my daily activities in JV Life Tracker, an Android app I designed and built.  I noticed that my daily scores went down precipitously, starting in the first part of April.  I wrote an entire blog entry that I did not feel like publishing.  I did not even finish running Grammarly on it.  Then there was a drought with no blog entries at all.
On April 21st, I forgot to score at all.  Probably, that was when I hit bottom.

II. Second, Determine What is Missing that Could Turn Things Around.

What in your life is your indicator that things are going downhill?  How do you turn it around before it reaches zero?
About this time, I started wondering what I was doing or not doing that could be contributing to my sagged output.  I thought through what I had done lately and what I had tried.  Dr. Panda’s book The Circadian Code came to mind.  I read it in February and had experienced a significant uptick in my energy and productivity.  However, it had gone down again, not long later.  Why?
Was it a single snowstorm that kept me indoors, followed by slumping back into my former habits?  It appeared that what I needed was more sunlight, even though it was tough, even seemingly impossible, to motivate myself to get out-of-doors, especially in the pandemic.  The weather was getting better, but going out with a cloth mask was not too fun.  I tried walking to the library and back and got a bit winded on the return, climbing the hill back to our condo with a mask over my mouth and nose.  Our elevation of about 5900 feet above sea level may have contributed to the feeling as well.  I sunk back into my old habits.

III. Third, Get Help to Get that Activity (Back) In Your Life.

About this time, my mother asked what she could do to help lift me out of my depression.  I told her I needed to get out, but it was hard.  She offered to call daily to help motivate me into the new habit.  I suggested that she call at night, so I could sleep on her suggestions before putting them into practice the next day.
She called every night for some time.  We talked and talked and sometimes went to bed late.  I wish I could say this worked like a charm.  However, because I am a Questioner, according to Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies, I found it challenging to respond to the motivation my mother provided.  However, I knew for myself what was most likely going to work from the reasoning laid out by Dr. Panda and the research he had cited, not to mention my experience a few weeks before.  Gradually, I started getting out more.
Another thing that helped was joining a NAMI support group almost two weeks ago.  The group leader asked me to walk outside daily and report back to him in two weeks.  In some ways, I am an Obliger, so this accountability helped.  Our next meeting is this Monday, and I am happy that I have something to report.
A few days ago, it happened–a significant uptick in energy and productivity.  I set a goal to improve at least one percent a day.
However, can this upsurge be sustained?  Or is it going to fade away soon as it had earlier in the year?  I will have to determine that later.  At least now I see how critical my walk to the library and around the park are.
Today, I decided to give the walk ten points in JV Life Tracker to emphasize its importance.  That could inflate my scores somewhat, but the purpose of scoring is to motivate me to do the most valuable things.  If you want to know more about my scoring system, please download my ebook, Joyful Vibrance:  Transform Your Body Image, Energy, and Mood!

IV. Fourth, Develop a Blend of Old and New Strategies that Work Together to Get You Out of the Slump and Help You Bounce Back.

I am also trying to increase my productivity level: tracking my time and keeping a journal as I go along.  I create an outline of up to 10-15 activities I can do right now in The Journal.  Then I choose which of those activities I want to do, in what order, and do them, crossing them off.  The best part of this method is that I do not have to do them all.  Then, I may write some more and create additional lists and so on.
You can access the outline tool in The Journal by selecting Format on the menu, then Bullets and Numbering, and choosing Outline.  (It took me a while to figure that out.)
Time tracking is something I have done off and on for years, so it is an old strategy.  I have made lists in the past, but doing it so frequently is new.  Time tracking gives me accountability and a sense of urgency.  It also makes me aware of how much time I am spending at each activity and helps minimize multi-tasking.  That can be useful when planning those activities again.
This approach did not work for me today with people calling and coming in and out.  However, I think it will help me in ordinary days when there is not so much activity.  Today, the bustle of interactions created a sense of urgency, so perhaps that was just as well.  Combining these two strategies may not be the most efficient way to do things because it involves many decision-making points, but it is helping me come out of a slump.

V. Fifth, Celebrate Your Progress.

It may be too soon to give myself any big prizes, but for starters, I lost three pounds this week, instead of gaining more.  I am in a celebration mode, however, just seeing my progress on my charts.  I broke the weight gain trend I have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic and even before.
The walk in the spring weather is a reward itself because it is beautiful outdoors, and I can celebrate how fortunate we are to live here.  I am already thinking of strategies I can use when the weather is not as pleasant.  Checking in the early morning to see which hour of the day offers the best chance of comfortable temperatures and little precipitation is a useful practice.

VI. Do Not Forget Your Gratitude Practice

Preparing For My Day
5-10 things I am grateful for:
  • feeling better, including bursts of joy
  • my new workflow organization
  • my step-son’s willingness to help us with the jeep battery
  • starting to get control of my eating
  • a cool or warm condo, my choice
  • appliances that work
  • our new reading lamp
  • JV Life Tracker
  • spring
comments, feelings, ideas, moods, and empowering questions:
We live in such a wonderful place!
Both my mood and energy have soared since I resumed my walks to the library and park.
I lost almost three pounds this week after a long period of gaining weight.
I am establishing a habit of getting daily sunlight through a walk to the park and library.
I am getting back to my blog!
If you would like to join me on this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.  If you wish to download a FREE copy of my ebook (with no need to enter your name or email), click on the book below.

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