I’m the type of person who is heavily influenced by their seasons. The highs and lows of life. Whether something caused a high or low point is irrelevant. From what I can tell, they kind of come and go as they please completely out of my control.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. We all wake up and have a day where laying in bed sounds like the right idea. Sometimes that day can turn into a week or a month, and then one day you wake up with a ball of energy that feels like it will explode if you don’t find something to do immediately.
I’ve experienced these types of seasons most of my life. I don’t know if it’s linked to any kind of cycle or if my brain just likes to use all of it’s serotonin all at once or if it’s totally random and based on nothing scientific at all.
Either way, I’ve experienced this as long as I can remember, but I’ve only become aware of these seasons in the past couple of years. And I’ve only been actively aware very recently.
For a long time, when I’d fall into a low moment, I would fear that a high point would never come again. I felt like I’d run out of happiness and I’d be stuck feeling down forever. I wouldn’t say I’d fall into a depression of any kind. My mood wasn’t always a sad one, I still had joy. I just wouldn’t have a lot of inspiration and the idea of doing more than rest and watch TV sounded unappealing.
When I’d get to a high point, I’d be so inspired and so excited about things that I’d do too much OR I’d think about doing so much that I’d wind up doing nothing at all. I couldn’t figure out how to harness any of the motivation I felt and I’d be afraid the whole time of starting anything because I knew, one day, a low point would come and I’d eventually lose anything that I’d started during those high points.
So, obviously I can’t live my life feeling like I’m catering to two different versions of myself. I can’t drop everything just because I don’t feel like doing things, but I can’t prevent myself from being everything I want to be just because I’m afraid I won’t be able to maintain it sometimes.
During my last two rounds of ups and downs, I’ve been very focused on what is going on with me. I’ve tried to stay in touch with what I need without letting either season effect the other. I think ups and downs have their place and it’s important to listen to your inner self when it’s trying to tell you what it needs.
Seasons are a natural part of life. Our earth goes through seasons, plants do it, animals do it. Bears hibernates, birds travel north and south. We all have instincts and it’s important to follow them.
It’s also important to learn how to use each of these seasons to their fullest potential. There is productivity in not being productive. There’s downsides to being too productive. It’s all about finding the balance.
So that’s what I’ve been working on. I wanted to find a way to use my seasons as they need to be used. I wanted to work on making each season productive in it’s own way so I can, hopefully, utilize every bit of my time.
THE LOW POINTS
I’ve bashed these times for a very long time. I have spent most of my time resenting the low moments. Fearing them in the big points and hating them when I’m in the middle of them.
That changed this last time. I decided to embrace my low point and give myself exactly what I was asking for.
That’s not to say I literally sat and did nothing for a month. I still have responsibilities that I have to maintain. But I’m also not saying I did anymore than I absolutely needed to. I gave myself as much of a break as I could and here’s how I did it:
I’ve really discovered the power in journaling recently and it’s improved my life immensely. Especially in the moments I felt wrong for taking a break.
Journaling helped me keep my brain moving. It helped me to not get stuck in the low point while still giving me the opportunity to relax.
It’s not a huge activity. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or involved. But it’s something to do so you can prevent yourself from wallowing too much in your low moments. This is a good way to not get trapped in a cycle of stupid app games and mindless TV shows. It’s a small opportunity each day to let your gears turn, if even for a moment.
MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU NEED TO DO + SET DEADLINES
This helps me for two reasons:
You don’t forget things that actually have to get done.
It helps you realize how much you actually do in a day which helps fend off any guilt that may come your way.
Obviously, we still need to eat. We still need to have clean clothes. Our house needs to stay at least minimally clean. We all still have things that need to get done on a daily basis.
Just remember the difference between what you need to do and what you want to do. No matter how much you think you want to deep clean your floors, you really only need to once over with a stiffer every once in a while.
Don’t make yourself guilty for taking a break. Just be proud of yourself for taking care of what you need to. You can do the extras another day.
Setting deadlines will help you to make sure it’s getting done when it needs to. If you have things that have to get done by a certain time, put it in a calendar with a few reminders. That way you’re not putting too much stress on your mind but you’re still getting things done on time.
EMBRACE THE DOWNTIME
Seriously, don’t focus on what you could be doing. Just tell yourself, even if you have to say it out loud a couple time, “It’s okay to take a break.”
We are worth so much more than our productivity. It’s important to be content with how you’re spending your time, but not if it means working yourself harder than you can handle.
I like to think of the low points as our subconscious telling us it’s time to rest. Something is coming, whether you know it or not, and you need to take a break. Our bodies and minds are intuitive, maybe even more than we realize. We may feel like something big is coming our way without ever fully realizing we see it coming.
So listen to yourself and soak in those moments of ease. Take the hint and be lazy. You have no idea how badly you may need the downtime.
DIVE INTO A SIMPLE PROJECT
Again, it’s good to keep the gears turning. Even if it’s a mindless hobby or something simple. Personally, I do online jigsaw puzzles. I spend $20 on a 3 month subscription and do these dumb online jigsaw puzzles all day.
If I get board of that, I’ll crochet something simple or just get really into organizing my Pinterest boards or simply looking into planning a future project to work on one day. Really, nothing huge. Nothing that requires I do more than sit and relax.
I’ve just found that doing a tiny bit of something that you enjoy doing helps these moments to not get too out of hand and can even help them to not last longer than you’d want.
THE HIGH POINTS
The high points are good and bad. They are good because, YAY! Inspiration is here again! You can start cooking better food and doing some fun stuff and getting out of the house. It can be bad though because your mind starts going so fast that it’s hard to keep track. For me I can feel like I’m not even thinking at all because of how many things I’m thinking at once.
So even though you have all this drive to do things, it can be hard to channel it towards something helpful.
So, given that I’m currently at a high point, I’m trying to take advantage of it. I want to use this time as wisely as possible and create some standards that can become so second nature that they don’t feel overbearing when a low point comes again.
Yeah, journal again. It helps to get your thoughts in order. The same way we need a little help having thoughts at all during a low point, we need help managing our thoughts during high points.
It’s a good way to get yourself on track and work through all the thoughts you’re having.
You can think about what’s really important to you and get everything out that is just a passing thought taking up room in your mind. It helps to prioritize and sort through all the things that may be running through your mind.
PICK 3 THINGS TO FOCUS ON
And no, its not an arbitrary number. In general, humans can only focus on 3-4 things at once so I figure, don’t push it. Give yourself the ability to succeed by not pushing the limits on how many things you need to manage.
Rather, give yourself the opportunity to push the limits on how far you can take a few things.
So this time around, I’m picking 3 simple things to focus on. Some are fun, some are things I should probably be better about. In general, they’re things I currently have the ability to put effort into and giving myself a clear focus seems to be the best way to utilize this productive time of mine.
So here’s what I’m focused on right now:
Cooking + baking more consistently because cold weather means I need a constant flow of tasty treats.
Finish crocheting blankets. A project I started in my low moment that will be really good to finish.
Practice drawing. I’ve always wanted to sketch and draw and hand letter, so I’m going to give myself the tools to start learning now.
Nothing huge. One of these days I may give myself a bigger task. I’ve got books I’d like to write and other house projects I’d like to work on, but this is what I’ve found is really calling me at the moment.
FORM A HABIT
I think these are great opportunities to form productive a habit for yourself. Whether it’s eating better, cooking at home more, exercising, a better skincare routine, etc. Just something that you can make a regular part of your day that can hopefully carry through when a low point comes again.
It’s important to take care of yourself at every point in your life, but it’s hard to feel motivated when you don’t have a lot of energy to spare.
Forming these habits when you have the energy to add something new to your day can help it become second nature, even in the low moments.
DON’T GO OVERBOARD
I have a tendency to add a lot to my plate. I start thinking of everything I could possibly want to do and then I try to do all of it. I give myself obligations I can’t keep, expectations that I wind up failing.
It’s a recipe for feeling worthless, even at my high points.
So stick to your 3 things and only focus on one habit at a time. Don’t take on any major projects. Just focus on one part of said project.
For me, I’ve always wanted to start some kind of business. So when I’m at a high point, I always try to take on this huge project with so many steps and I wind up failing because I don’t take it one step at a time.
Like a paper good shop. Paper goods and handmade home goods. Textiles and things. I love it. I love the idea of creating it. I’d love to have a store one day with all of the pretty paper goods and home decor I can get my hands on. But I don’t know how to make the things I would want to stock.
So to take a major project and turn it into a tangible, manageable task; I’m going to start sketching. I’m going to work on one part of this massive project. This is something I can add to my current life without overwhelming myself and setting expectations I can’t live up to.
So whatever you want to do, break it down. Take on one tiny part of it and set the rest aside. You can still satisfy your craving for doing without giving yourself too much to handle.