The Dust & Dance Guide to Getting your Sparkle Back
Back in 2000 Ronan Keating warned us that life was going to be full of ups and downs, but I’ll be honest – I didn’t expect it to be quite this many. My rollercoaster has been something on par with Thorpe Park’s Colossus (no I haven’t been on it but can imagine it’s 10 loop-the-loops following a similar path to my life over the past few years!) I’ve had my fair share of down time but the fact that I’m still here and of relatively sound mind (!) means I must be fairly good at picking myself up again..and again…and again!
Today I am somewhere on the level part of the tracks having left one loop-the-loop behind me recently so it’s a good time to think about what helps me out of the doldrums. My Dad once said to me while I was in a crisis: ‘it’s not about how hard we fall, it’s about how we pick ourselves up’ and Ronan Keating did tell us we’d ‘just gotta riiide it’ but there are some things I know help me to make it a little smoother, to re-find my sense of purpose and get my sparkle back.
I’m not saying these will work for everyone (or that this list is exhaustive) but if they’ve worked for me they might help you too. So whether it’s a short term slump in your get-up-and-go, a knock to your confidence or recovering from some bad news, here is the Dust & Dance guide to getting your sparkle back:
Be gentle on yourself
If you have been stuck in the dark depths of depression or in a dark place for a while, it’s likely it might take some time for you to find your get-up-and-go, and even the process of picking yourself up might have its ups and downs. That’s ok, as long as the long term trajectory is pointing gently upwards, a couple of hiccups on the way aren’t anything to get upset about. Be gentle on yourself! You’re doing the best you can!
Make achievable goals
One thing I am often guilty of when I am trying to get back on the upwards track is setting myself unachievable goals. I’ll set my alarm for 6am to go for a run and then expect to set to work on the endless To-Do list I had penned the night before in a buzz of hopeful productivity. So if my mind and body are still tired and I oversleep I already feel I have let myself down, which can set the day up for failure. And really is there any point in putting 20 tasks on my To-Do list when 15 of them will be carried over to the next day? It’s much better to set achievable goals and go to bed feeling you have done what you set out to do vs. feeling disappointed in yourself for not waking up as superwoman like you had hoped.
Speak to your friends
When I’m in a slump I ignore everyone. This happened recently and it meant I was very isolated. One of my friends said to me the other day ‘even if you wanted to stay in bed I would come round and sit with you’…which I thought was nuts – why would anyone want to see you like that? Believe it or not your friends and family love you no matter which part of your roller-coaster you are on, and getting back in contact will help you remember there is a lot more to life than being really, really…miserable.
This was a bit of a wild card recently when quite out of the blue a little pooch came into my life and really cheered me up! Instead of going back to bed, I’d take the dog for a walk – how can you possibly feel bad/mad/sad when there’s this little fella wagging away with a big goofy grin on his face…? It’s also a great way to start getting some gentle exercise (which you might find you neglect when you are in a slump!) I signed up to www.borrowmydoggy.com to find a dog in my area and found a lovely little pooch just half a mile from me. Obviously if you don’t like dogs this one might not be for you…
Show your body some love
This old thing?! Yup! Sending some love to your body can have a huge effect on your mood – even just giving yourself a good hug. I don’t need to tell you about the benefits of exercise on your body but it can really affect your mood too. At the risk of sounding like part of the preachy kale and yoga tribe, it really does help so try and walk, run, stretch or move in some way – there, I’ve said it. Other more lazy ways I like to show my body some love are doing a face mask, painting my nails, sitting in a Jacuzzi or getting a massage.
Eat mood foods
Get nourished again. The likelihood is if you’ve been in the doldrums that your diet may have taken a knock. Your brain needs certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids to function properly, including regulating your mood. Bananas and dark chocolate (any excuse) are a good place to start as they help boost your serotonin (that’s the happy hormone) levels. Omega 3 has been shown to help lift symptoms of depression (you can find it in oily fish, nuts and seeds – here’s a list) and munching down on lots of colourful fruit & veg might make you feel better just because you know it should.
I do hope you aren’t at the bottom of your rollercoaster today, but if you are I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Eleven year old me just didn’t realise how much Ronan knew…he knew: ‘Life is a rollercoaster, let’s get beside it, so don’t hide it girl, just gotta ride it’