Having one of “those” days (weeks!) where you want to give up?

Aug 03, 2021

Having one of “those” days (weeks!) where you want to give up?

by Julie Watson, MA, MHS, LMFT 

You know the one I’m talking about. The house is a mess. Work is out of control. Your cat threw up on the floor, and your teen gave you the riot act for simply looking his way. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, well, yeah, that is out of the question. The school called to say your daughter is failing classes. Asking your family to put away their phone is like engaging in World War III. And, time for you? Fugetaboutit. 

Before tossing in the towel and crawling back in, run through the following list to see if you can do something to break the cycle of chaos. 

  • Have you taken a deep breath? No? Then take a deep breath in through the nose, hold it for at least 3 seconds, and then release slowly through your mouth. Repeat as needed.
  • Are you hydrated? If not, have a big glass of water. 
  • Have you eaten in the past three hours? If not, get some food — specifically something with protein like a handful of nuts or something fresh - an apple or a green smoothie. 
  • Have you showered in the past day? No? Go take a shower right now. 
  • Have you stretched your legs or moved your body recently? If not, take a moment to do some jumping jacks, have a mini dance party for one, or take a walk around the block.
  • Have you expressed gratitude lately? Shifting your thoughts and acknowledging when something is going well can be incredibly powerful, so pay a compliment or thank someone and start a running list of the things you appreciate in your life. 
  • Have you had any physical contact? Give a hug / get a hug from your friends. And don’t forget the value of getting 1:1 attention with your pet.  
  • Have you reached out for support? If not, call a friend or a support group. If you are working with a therapist, call them to talk through things.
  • Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in a generic prescription brand? That may be screwing with your head. Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down. 
  • If daytime: are you dressed? If not, take those jammies off and permit yourself to wear something special (and clean!), whether a funny T-shirt or a pretty dress. 
  • If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but fighting the urge to rest or sleep? Start by turning off putting on your comfiest pj’s and making yourself cozy with a blanket and some soft music or a sound machine. (No electronics!) Allow yourself to drift off for fifteen minutes or so. If you wake up, no worries; get up, make some tea, and return after 30 minutes. 
  • Do you feel ineffective? Yep, I feel that way too. Pause momentarily and accomplish something small - empty the dishwasher, start a laundry load, and answer an email. This helps to stop that monkey mind chatter around not doing anything and allows you to start feeling like you’ve gotten something done. Another trick? Write a to-done list logging all the things you actually have done. 
  • Do you feel paralyzed by indecision? Take a break. Often a decision becomes more apparent when we approach it with a fresh mind, so simply set aside the decision to focus on something doable - a walk, household tasks, etc. Breaking through that stasis is essential, even by doing something trivial. 
  • Have you over-exerted yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or mentally? Give yourself a break, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment. 

Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause. It happens. Keep yourself going for an entire week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then. Remember, you’ve made it this far and will make it through whatever is going on. You are not alone. And you are stronger than you ever imagined.