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Riding the Wave

We all experience periods in our life where we do not feel at our best. Some of us experience it more than others, and some of the experiences can be more or less severe. Here are a few tips to focus on that can make us feel better while we work through our slump.


Accomplishing Something Small


When we are faced with a personal crisis, it can be hard to keep up with our responsibilities. We can begin to lose interest in self-care activities such as eating or sleeping. Our long-term goals can seem much more distant, and our everyday activities begins to feel like a chore. We can often be our own harshest critic and remaining in this state can leave us vulnerable to our own self-deprecating messages.

In this current state, we need to acknowledge that may not be able to operate at our full capacity. Our full capacity right now might mean that we are only able to accomplish something small each day. However, if we keep this task meaningful and goal oriented, we would still be making progress –  just at a different pace. And progress is progress. For some people, this can mean making that important phone call that we have been putting off, doing research on an interest that we have been thinking about, or completing a household chore that has been on our mind. Essentially, we are marking off something from our to-do list. Completing a small, meaningful task can help build our sense of achievement and help to propel us forward.


Finding Small Moments of Joy


Happiness may be a foreign concept during a time when we are feeling many other feelings. It can be hard to feel happy when we are sad, embarrassed, hurt, angry, ashamed, etc. Sometimes we do not allow ourselves to feel certain feelings because of what we should be feeling. However, when we can give ourselves permission to feel multiple feelings at the same time, we can begin to acknowledge the feelings are truly there to start shifting away from a state of denial.

Challenge yourself to invite small moments of joy to keep your pain company during this time. It might mean that we need to allow ourselves to have some space to laugh, appreciate, be grateful for, or even indulge – even while we are in our slump. This can help to take the edge off that stress that has contributed to our slump in the first place.


Maintaining Social Interactions


When we are feeling down, our initial reaction can often be to shy away from others. There can be a sense of safety when we are alone because we will not be judged, criticized, or feeling as if we must defend or justify ourselves. However, often what can make us feel better is when we place ourselves in a position to be supported or distracted by others. Think of the last social interaction that you have felt truly supported or distracted – it was likely a positive experience that provided you with a break from your concerns. The challenge is to distinguish the relationships that can be most helpful to us during these moments of stress, as the best support is not always from those who are the closest to us.


Accepting Sleep


Our quality of sleep is often affected during stressful periods of our lives. We are kept awake by our racing mind; We are likely examining different stressful scenarios of which we do not have any control over. When we do finally fall asleep, it may not seem very restful.

Despite our lack of quality sleep, many of us are still having a difficult time accepting that we may need more sleep. When this happens, internally our mind is in a exhausting struggle between wanting to rest and wanting to achieve. Ultimately, it may help us to shift our mindset into accepting that we need to focus on rest before we can focus on generating momentum in other areas of our life.

There are and will be many more challenging moments in your life. However, if you can keep these 4 strategies in mind, it can make the wave easier to ride, or the rut easier to climb.



Steven Ngu, MC, is a Registered Provisional Psychologist with College of Alberta Psychologists. He has extensive experience in the area of stress management, plus many more.  For more information about Steven, click here to link to his full bio page.