At the start of the New Year I felt a sense of motivation and determination that I have not felt in a while. I was getting up early every morning. I was writing every day. I was having consistent, quiet prayer time before Hudson woke up. I was not touching social media and was reading voraciously. I was scrapbooking a ton. I was running with joy. I was going to baby story time, baby yoga, baby play dates. I am not exactly sure what happened but somewhere in the course of the past couple weeks I have fallen into a major slump. I have turned off my weekly alarm clock that was set to 6 am. I have chosen to scroll through Facebook, instead of read and have been on the same chapter of Searching For Sunday for weeks now. I am dreading my runs and workouts. I am doing them, but that sense of performance and pressure and pain from college running is slowly beginning to seep back into my running soles. I have writer’s block and I seem to constantly be hitting the delete tab. The words are just not coming out the way I intend for them to. I have not been to baby story time in weeks. I keep finding really good excuses as to why we can’t go out. I have not touched my scrapbooking table. Pictures have been messily scattered all over the coffee table untouched for many days. I just can’t seem to muster up the creative energy to continue it.
I am so tired. My once abundant milk supply has also hit a major slump and I literally feel like I am running dry. I keep training like I am in college, but the reality is I am not. I go to the track and run basically the same workouts I used to but instead of going to the training room to have an ice bath and go home to just relax and revel in the fact that I have no responsibilities, I go home to immediately needing to nurse Hudson. My body is rebelling. I can’t do it all. I am running myself to the ground and I am just now feeling it.
All of this to say, I am in a slump. I know I will get out soon, but like Dr. Seuss said, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” It is true. It is easy to sit and wallow in the slump. It is easy to read the post on how to un-slump, but a different story to actually get out of it. And the thing is, I think a lot of us know what we should do, but it sure can be hard to push yourself to do what you know long-term will be good for you. There are a few things that usually help ease me out of a slump. The key word is ease. It does not happen all at once, but typically if I can consistently make a few small, but important choices throughout my day, I will slowly and surely find myself on the other side. When it comes to the difficult task of un-slumping yourself, here are 5 small choices to help in the process:
- Wake Up Early
This one is tough because when I am in this low place, I really have a hard time getting out of bed period, but especially getting out of bed before 7 am. The problem here is by hitting snooze and choosing to sleep longer, I am actually making my day start off on a bad note and this just further perpetuates the slump. So, as much as I really, really want to ignore the alarm and snooze, it is so important that I make that first choice of stepping out of my bed. It is hard. But it matters. Last night, I intentionally chose to set my alarm for 5:10 am and get up when Lance does. This small choice is already making a big difference in my day.
2. Listen to Life-Giving Words
For me, that is a sermon or a podcast. Yesterday, I listened to a sermon by Tim Chaddick and it changed my outlook, my day, and my heart. Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to give you exactly what you need to hear. The sermon was on ambition and work that is pleasing to God. It was so powerful. I am linking to it here. Part of the reason I have been in this particular place is because I feel like I am lacking purpose. I feel like I try so hard, but then it does not matter. I try so hard to make organic, homemade food for Hudson, and then he hates it and tosses it to Nala. I try so hard to keep the house in order, but then the next hour, I see dirt and Nala’s hair all over the floors again. I try so hard to be a good runner again, but my body is just not the same as college. I try so hard to be a good writer, but no one reads this except my husband and mom (or so it feels). These are all the emotions running through my heart and mind and then I choose to play this sermon as I am doing dishes. And I hear the words of Paul:
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
And my whole body sighed relief. This is enough. What I am doing is enough. I might not be in a fancy office or have the influence I used to when I was in the classroom, but I am doing important work and God delights in this. This is all to explain the power and importance in allowing others to speak into your days to help point you back to the cross and to the love of God. It is so easy to forget. If I could I would listen to sermons on repeat in my head because that is how much I need daily and momentary reminders. So, listen and consume content that is life-giving. Allow the Holy Spirit to run through you and change your heart. It will happen if you let it.
This one is kind of like getting up early. I am the least motivated to workout when I am in this rut, but usually the best fix is to get out and run or make it into a yoga class. Yesterday I literally went from bawling on the couch to running a 4-mile tempo on the strand. And let me tell you, every fiber of my body wanted to just stay put on the couch, but I went and I am glad I did. It allowed me to breathe and focus on something other than how I was feeling. It gave me space to have rhythm. It gave me the time to pray. This might not be the thing for everyone, but getting outside and breathing air can be so helpful.
4. Connect with People
We are built for connection. In my slumps, it is really easy to cancel plans and stay home. And sometimes I do this. But, as much as I can, I need to keep plans and connect with friends and family. I need this. Hudson needs this. And maybe it is not going out, but it is having people come to you. Invite people over. Make play dates. Put events on the calendar and commit to them. Trust me, this can be the hardest one for me, but this connection is so important. I almost always walk away from time with others feeling happier and rejuvenated. Also, it is so important to have a few people in your life that you can talk about being not okay. Just yesterday, both my husband and my mom prayed over me as I bursted into tears to both of them explaining how I felt. What a blessing to have people in my life that will not only listen and love me, but will bring my pain to the Lord. How thankful I am for that!
This leads me to the fifth and most important choice. Choose to pray. When I am on fire in my faith, I tend to pray aloud in the mornings. The words flow easily and I have a great enthusiasm to speak out my prayers. When I hit these types of slumps in both my life and my faith, I tend to not even be motivated to voice out my prayers. Some mornings I feel so tired and unmotivated, it feels hard to even voice prayers. Thankfully God even hears my sad little whimpers that are left unspoken. Earlier this week, my heart was given so much relief when I read the words in Matthew 6:
“When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him” Matthew 6:7-8
Even on those mornings where it is hard to muster out the words, the Lord knows what I need. He knows my heart. When I pray I am not going to some distant god, I am speaking to my Father who deeply loves and cares for my well-being. Therefore, I don’t need to worry about phrasing things in the most eloquent way or even saying them aloud. He knows what I need. He knows how I am feeling. There is just so much relief in this. So when I pray in these slumps, even if my prayers are fragmented or if it is difficult for me to find the right words, I can know that the Lord will meet me where I am and offer me an abundance of peace and grace.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done. And it is not as simple as checking off a few things on a list. However, I am learning that by focusing less on the slump and more on daily and intentionally choosing these five things: wake up early, listen to life-giving words, exercise, connect with people, and pray; I am able to more easily transition out of the slump and onto flat ground where I can go back to running with joy.