"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Down Days and Pick Me Ups

Everyone has down days; even if you have your dream job and you have a happy home life, some days just seem harder to get through than others.  Lots of things can upset your state of mind; a bad day at work, a disagreement with your partner, problems with your kids or child care issues can all have a negative effect on your mood. Even an exciting new job can leave you feeling low.

When you feel under the weather your body is trying to tell you to take a moment or two to yourself, but usually this subtle hint is ignored and people continue their daily routine until illness forces them to just stop.  A low mood might be teaching you to reevaluate your life so that you can determine what really matters and how you spend your time.  If work is getting you down, perhaps its time to move on and do something else.  If you are not getting along with your partner maybe you need to make your relationship a bigger priority, or accept that its over and end it. Of course some days you can just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling generally out of sorts with the world; down days do not always have a serious issue to support them.

One of the down sides of being a writer is the creative come-down - which happens shortly after completing a project.  Creative come-down is the flip side of the creative high or euphoria an artist feels when the work has been going really well, a long project is finally finished, or something new has just been released and all the events surrounding publication have subsided.  Suddenly, the work has stopped or slowed down and there is more time to wonder 'what next?'   This is when the doubts begin to nag at you and it is usually when a bad flu forces you into submission!  Creative come-down is just a natural part of living the life of an artist...we all have them, even big stars like Kylie who has admitted to experiencing the slump following a great launch,tour or a long stint in the studio.  Its just a part of the creative process.  So if you have been working on a big presentation at work and you are left feeling flat and low, chances are you are in the midst of a creative slump.  

During a period of down days it is important that you activate your self-care and self-nurturing skills.  Act as soon as you start to feel low to ward off more serious emotional slumps at a later stage.  Admit that you are feeling under par at the moment and give yourself the time out you need.  Below are some of the things I do when experiencing a creative come-down to make myself feel better.

  •  I prescribe myself a course of self-help reading, either taking books from my collection, or picking up new ones.  I like Paul McKenna's work a lot; I have several of his books and hypnosis CD's which I find useful.

  • I nurture my inner-child by re-reading old childhood favorites like Enid Blyton school stories, Nancy Drew novels, and old Jackie pony books.  It takes me back to a simpler time in my life.
  • I enjoy fairytales, reading my anthologies of fairytales from around the world, Celtic folklore and so on.  This increases my sense of enchantment and wonder and its hard to be sad when enchanted. For the same reason I watch Disney's classic fairytales, or I might watch one of the modern movie versions such as Red Riding Hood,  Snow White and the Huntsman or Mirror Mirror.  Victoria Frances' Gothic fairytale books are also very lovely.
  • Pondering.  This is easier than a full on meditation and not so disciplined. Pondering is sitting in silence with a cup tea or coffee and allowing the mind to wander and thoughts to drift. No TV, radio, books or writing is involved.  Pondering is simply sitting quietly in the company of your own thoughts. I enjoy it. It makes me listen to my instincts and intuition more closely. Pondering in the garden is good for you as the fresh air clears away the cobwebs.
  • I ask myself the question "What would make me happy right now, in this moment?" and then I act upon the answer. It might be a mug of hot chocolate, a hot bath, an ice-cream, a breath of fresh air, a nice walk in the woods, a new novel, a skating session, horse-riding, or listening to music. Whatever it is, once I act upon the prompt I start to feel better.
  • I write in my journal, putting down everything I am thinking and feeling at the particular time. I write my journal in the mornings so that I have a place to set the tone for my day.  In the evening I write in my diary where I review the events of the day; both journal and diary give me a place to place my thoughts, feelings, worries and concerns. It frees up my mind space so I can get on with other things.
  • I pamper myself with face packs, skin care routine, body scrubs and butters, scented candles and oils, fluffy bed socks and arm warmers, cosy pj's, a hot water bottle and my cat! I get snugly and take a nap or have an early night in bed with a book.
I hope that these tips and tricks will prove useful to you next time you are having a down day or a creative come-down.  Without the lows we would not have the highs and it is just a natural part of the creative process.  If you feel very down for a prolonged period then you should go and have a chat with your GP.
Blessed Be, Marie x

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