You’re human. And that means that you will inevitably go through periods of time during which you feel a bit stuck. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you — it’s normal to feel low sometimes, and it’s equally normal to lose your sense of motivation.
That fire that inspires you to get up and embrace the day is dimmed and you’re left with the feeling that you’ve fallen into a hole, without the energy to climb out.
Perhaps you can pinpoint the thing that got you stuck in the first place. If you’ve been through a stressful experience, a personal loss, or if you’re having a tough time at work or in a relationship, your emotional and physiological responsemay be low energy and low mood. And this heavy feeling can come about weeks or months after the difficult experience — it doesn't necessarily happen right away.
But low mood and motivation can happen for no particular reason too. You can’t connect your state of mind to the thing that caused it, and you struggle to articulate these feelings to others because you can’t explain where they came from.
Whatever the root of your rut, you don’t have to stay stuck forever. Here are three powerful techniques to help you shift your perspective and feel the flow of vital energy in your body and mind again.
They’re simple. You can do them on your own. And each of them require only ten minutes of concentration to have a positive impact on your life.
Of course, we are firm believers in the benefits of journaling. But when you’re feeling low it’s really hard to sit down with a pen and paper and let the words come. How could journaling really change how youfeel?
If you’re a sceptic, it’s worth checking out some of the recent research which highlightsthe ways in which journaling improves mental health. Mariah Snyder PhD writes about the scientific basis that supports the practice of journaling — emphasising that it allows people to connect with the different elements of their lives and experience a deeper sense of wholeness and security. And the globally renowned therapeutic technique founded by psychologist Carl Jung includes a systematic method for journaling, in which active writing strategies enable people to draw on their own inner strength to improve wellbeing.
At Growth Journal, we agree that structured journaling is important to work through emotions and increase confidence and motivation. You can do this with a paper and pen, by creating set journal prompts to work from; or you can use our app, which provides the prompts and allows you to journal on the go. The technique we’ve created focuses on goals and growth — allowing you to lift yourself out of the low moments and acknowledge your achievements.
A Meditation Practice
A simple meditation practice allows you to move into a different state of being. Mindfulness allows you to step out of the whirlwind of your mind chatter and observe your thoughts as a witness, rather than being unsettled by them. It’s proven to improve mood. And don’t worry — you don’t have to clear your mind of all thoughts.
• Stand upright and close your eyes. Let your hands rest by your sides; arms are relaxed. Tuck your chin in towards your chest very slightly — so the back of the neck is long.
• Notice the feet. Root down through the big toes, little toes, and the heels of the feet. Become aware of your connection with the ground.
• Notice your breath. Don’t try to control it — breathe in a natural rhythm, however your body wants to breathe. Become aware of the temperature of the air as it enters and leaves the body.
• When you’re distracted by other thoughts, notice them. Allow the thoughts to be there. And then gently bring the awareness back to the breath.
• After a minute or so, shift the awareness to your spine. Notice how the spine naturally extends slightly with each inhale, and relaxes with each exhale.
• After another minute, very slowly allow the arms to float up either side of you until they reach shoulder level. The hands are relaxed. Move so slowly that it’s almost as though the arms are being pushed up by the air beneath them. And notice the movement.
• When the arms reach shoulder level, stay here. Notice which muscles start to pick up tension — the muscles which start to feel uncomfortable. And make the decision to stay with that tension for one minute. Noticing. Breathing gently.
• Finally, let the arms drop heavily down to the sides of the body again. Take one deep breath in through the nose, and sigh it out through the mouth. And blink the arms open when you’re ready.
Physical movement changes how you feel almost instantly. In fact, research from Stanford University suggests that simple forms of movement, such as walking, can boost creativity as well as stimulate blood flow and the release of mood-enhancing hormones.
You might have experienced this for yourself. Have you ever gone for a walk with a friend, and found that as you stroll side by side the conversation flows in ways that it never does when you’re sitting down?
Any form of movement can make you feel better. If you love running or cycling or swimming, great; but gentler movement is effective too.
We recommend free creative movement — on your own, at home, when no one’s watching. Put on some music and start by standing in the middle of the room. Close your eyes. And then let your body move.
This may feel strange to start with, but give it time. Some initial, deliberate movements will help you to get out of your head and into your body. So try reaching the arms up and stretching from side to side; rolling the head slowly in circles; shaking the hands vigorously; and swaying the shoulders.
And then let it happen. Move in any way you want to. At any speed you want to. With no purpose other than being there, with your body, and working with the energy you have.
More energy will come.
One Last Thing…
Give yourself a break. That is, don’t beat yourself up about being stuck in a rut. Negative self-talk, such as saying I’m useless or I should be better than this actually makes it harder for you to adjust your mindset and move through the low times.
Instead, be kind: remind yourself that you’re not abnormal, you’re just human. No one is on top of the world and functioning at their highest level of productivity all the time. But if you can learn to roll with the ebb and flow of your energy, and incorporate uplifting practices into your life which work for you, you can experience the lows while remaining steady in the knowledge that they won’t last forever.
About the writer: Izzy Arcoleo BA(Hons) RYT-500 is a yoga and meditation teacher — and always a student — from London. Currently based in south west France, she and her partner are renovating a building to become a centre for movement arts and meditation. Izzy is dedicated to creating space — both physically and mentally — for meditative practices and wellbeing.