We all have our ups and downs in life, and arguably the lowest of lows makes you more fully appreciate the highest of highs, but wouldn’t it be handy if we could learn to make life’s low points a little less painful and get back to the highs quicker?
Most people don’t realize they are headed into a rut until they are fully stuck into it. Wouldn’t it be awesome to recognize that you’re on a downward trend before you hit the low point? The standard catchphrase “the first step towards fixing a problem is recognizing you have a problem” can help us tremendously in our endeavor to get out of life’s ruts. The quicker you recognize you are getting down, the quicker you can decide to reverse the trend. This means you’ll spend less time in a rut, and also means you’ll have less work to do to get yourself back to normal.
I challenge you to identify your downhill warning signs. Maybe it’s that you get short with those you love, or you find yourself sneaking sugary/fatty foods, or you blow off a few of your regular workouts, or you start driving aggressively for no reason? Over the next few weeks, observe your “low moments,” then ask yourself how you got there. Were there certain cues that, looking back on your current “low” status, you know were signs that you were headed downward? Usually you can point them out fairly easily; after all, hindsight is 20/20. If you can’t immediately point out the cues, think back to other times you hit low points and try to identify common emotions, actions, decisions, or stimuli. Now write down your warning signs.
Once you’ve identified the downward signals, you still need to decide to act in order to prevent yourself from going completely to the bottom. For the uphill climb, I recommend you develop a list of items that help you get over a funk, and write them down. Items on this list should be things that make you pause, think about your values, help you analyze whether or not your current life decisions are contributing to the value-driven lifestyle you aspire to, and then motivate you to effect change in your life.
Every time you see a downhill warning signal, read your list and start knocking off those items until your mini-low is turned into a high. I’ll share my list with you in hopes that it may spark some ideas: exercise, be productive, be creative, observe and interact with nature, be curious—road trip! I can say that I’ve rarely made it through each of those five anti-low steps and not felt better. Referencing this written list has helped me get out of many lows, and I’m confident the list you write down will do the same.
Bottom Line: To reduce the intensity and duration of life’s lows, identify warning signs that you’re headed downhill, and then decide to act to dig yourself out of the rut while it’s still shallow. Write down your warning signs and coping mechanisms as a reference.
Did you find this post interesting? If so, check out our website at www.minmylife.org. If the subject material of this blog post caught your attention, I recommend reading our post on the happiest people in the world.