I was raised with a suck it up philosophy. Just suck it up and do it, and often that works for me. But sometimes, on some days, it really doesn’t cut it. Given that I was raised in this philosophy, I tend to see emotions as insignificant, as something that can easily be overcome if you just ignore them. I’ve learned over the years that emotions can be powerful forces. They can knock you down and keep you there, or lift you higher than you thought possible. And some days, they make it feel impossible to do any work. It feels oppressive and no matter how much you try to suck it up and push forward, you can’t. Now, sometimes you do need to take a step back and rest. But often you don’t have that luxury, and you have to figure out how to keep going when you’re really not feeling it.
I’ve created a list of simple, yet often effective, things to do (or not do) to try and get you moving in the right direction. These are fairly basic suggestions, but I find that it helps to have them listed somewhere easily accessible, even somewhere you can see them without having to put forth that extra effort to look for them. I’ve found that all I really need to do is get myself started. After that it’s easier to maintain momentum; it’s that initial drive that is the most difficult.
These are in no particular order; you can just pick one and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work, pick another. You’ll even find combinations that work for you, like going for a run, showering, and then drinking some coffee.
1) Go for a walk/run
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a runner, but it does help clear my head. When I’m running, I get to the point (usually pretty quickly), where everything starts hurting. My legs burn, my lungs burn, and it chases all of the other thoughts out of my mind. All you can focus on is keeping your legs moving and remembering to breathe. And then you get all of those lovely endorphins.
Walking has a similar effect, if you’re not into running. It gives you time to think, a change of scenery, and some fresh air.
2) Drink coffee
Coffee. I don’t think I really need to explain this one. Caffeine is a wonderful thing. If you’re feeling particularly difficult, you can add a splash or two of Bailey’s, which also helps.
3) Listen to music
I often listen to music when I’m working and use different kinds of music for different things. Right now I’m listening to Lindsey Stirling. When I’m trying to read or write, I tend to prefer something instrumental so I don’t have any lyrics to distract me. Everyone’s musical tastes differ so choose something that works for you.
4) Plant a flower
This one can only be used so many times, as I’ve discovered, unless of course you have a very large backyard. I’ve found that browsing through a plant store is calming and encouraging. It sounds a little strange, but being surrounded by all of those plants, all of that possibility, makes more things seem possible. Plus, bringing a flower home adds a little color to your life.
5) Talk to an uplifting friend
Sometimes all we need is an encouraging word from a friend. The power of relationships in our lives, who we befriend and who we spend time with, has a huge impact. Find someone who brightens the world around them.
6) Do Not Watch TV
I’m not sure I can emphasize this one enough. Watching TV, especially something like Netflix with its binge-watching capabilities, is a black hole that you will never return from. The minute I sit down to watch, I know any chance I had of productivity is over. Others may not have quite this extreme of a problem, but it is still a trap that will suck you in. Don’t Do It.
7) Read a book (maybe)
Reading can help, sometimes. This one is tricky. At times, reading can be like watching TV in that it will suck you in and not let you go. On the other hand, it may be just the stimulus you need. I can take a few minutes to read and then feel a little more up to whatever task I need to accomplish. Proceed with caution.
8) Eat some chocolate (or promise yourself some afterwards)
Chocolate, like caffeine, hardly needs an explanation. Food is basically my love language, especially chocolate. It can be a boost forward or an incentive for later. Either way, it’s lovely.
9) Take a shower
Taking a shower can be revitalizing, washing the dirt off literally and figuratively. It can make you feel a little bit more prepared.
10) Do some yoga
Yoga is a bit like running. It gets your body moving, focuses your mind, and encourages breathing. I do yoga in the evenings to relax, but it can also be rejuvenating when you need a jump start to your day or a boost in the afternoon.
11) Try the Pomodoro Technique
I use this one quite a bit, at least to get started. You set a timer for 25 minutes (you could get a fancy tomato timer that they advertise, but any timer or alarm will work.) You do your work for those 25 minutes, and then you get to take a break. The recommended break is about 5 minutes, but when I’m really struggling, I’ll start with maybe 25 minutes of work and 10-20 minutes of break. Then you do another 25 minutes of work, and so on and so forth.
12) Watch Shia LaBeouf’s Just Do It video
This is one of my favorites. Watch it, and I think you’ll understand.
~By Melissa Blakely