Think about a season in your life when you were truly thriving. In those seasons, you’re operating on all cylinders: eating well, sleeping well, my energy is positive, my work is strong and my relationships are healthy. All of those elements work in synchronicity, each influencing the next as you operate at your full potential.
But, then, there are other seasons when nothing is really wrong, but you’re simply not living your best life. I’m in such a season right now. I’m tired and my sleep isn’t restful. My enthusiasm is dulled, my energy lags. I find myself eating poorly, drinking too frequently and I cannot seem to carve out time to workout even with the best intentions. I notice more conflict and frustration in my closest relationships.
Seasons in our lives can come on gradually, or there might be a singular crisis that spirals you from a good season into a tough one. For me, this slump came on gradually. There wasn’t any one thing that happened, just a slow sinking into habits that aren’t serving me. And, in truth, the realization of it all has happened slowly as well, as the waistline of my jeans fits a little more snugly, as I catch myself having an irritable outburst at someone I love, as I hit snooze a few more times than usual.
Being aware of the red flags that signal that you’re in an unhealthy place is step one of coming out of a slump. In my life, those red flags look like regular runs through fast food (even though I enjoy cooking), increased alcohol intake, more time spent on social media, disengagement from spiritual disciplines and online shopping. Everyone has their own vices, though, but for most people these are behaviors that numb or distract from something else, even if they’re fine to do in regular moderation.
Once I notice those out-of-balance habits, I begin to consider what problems I might be avoiding with my vices. What are the contributing factors to my overall level of happiness in this season? Is there stress in my family, work or relationships? Is there a conflict or trauma I’m processing? Are my needs being met in my daily life? Beginning to sort through and process the contributing factors is key to shifting the habits and recovering a healthy rhythm.
From there, identify the specific habits that have eroded. Then, begin with a singular thing to focus on for two weeks; you can of course do other things but focus on one. Our brains require time to adapt to a new habit, and resetting multiple habits at once is often a recipe for failure. But, focusing on the one, singular thing that might best be the first domino to help the others to come into alignment is a really helpful way to address the slump without overwhelming yourself.
Finally, accountability is key. Tell someone in your inner circle your plan, and ask them to check in with you and encourage you, or invite them to join you. Track your new habit daily for two months in a highly visible place where you can see it. As you add new habits into your focus, track those as well. As you address both the cause and the symptoms, gradually you’ll move out of the valley you’re in and into higher ground, into your best life.