I realize that we talk a lot about how to take care of ourselves on bad days– the times we least want to care about our own well-being– around here, but I’ve yet to offer an actual case study of “A Bad Day Gone Good.” That’s probably because I honestly haven’t always taken my own advice and taken the best care of myself in such moments. This case study, I hope, will remedy the lack thus far of a personal story of one such bad day, reformed.
Yesterday I woke up with a deep sense of sadness and loneliness. I don’t like waking up with that (who does?), but especially not because it makes my transition from dream-unconscious to awake filled with fear. I’ve been waking up like this for the past month or so, probably because I actually decided to bring on the brokenheartedness and see where it takes me. The fear, though, lies mostly in the fact that the last time I woke up like this consistently was right before I started learning to love myself– a particularly dark time of my life when I felt completely isolated, abandoned, alone, and like I had no purpose for even being alive. It’s been a scary feeling.
Anyway, if I’m going to tell you the whole story, I have to tell you that up until yesterday, I don’t remember the last day I ate mindfully (aka, the last day I didn’t binge). That I really hadn’t had a good day in longer than I realized. That I was sinking deep into a hole and felt like I was about to give up.
I put on sweats and a t-shirt, the same thing I’d worn for two days. I hadn’t showered in two days.
Step #1 to reforming a bad day: Take a nice, hot shower.
And I did. I kind of had to force myself to, but I knew I had to do something. I had to leave the house pretty quickly, so I didn’t have time to write or meditate. Stuff That Works, 0. Bad Day, 1. (But Hot Shower, 1.)
I did my errands and went to a friend’s house and cried. He looked at me before he left and said:
“Put on something that makes you feel strong and get out of the house today!”
“But this [sweats and a dirty shirt] is comfortable…”
“No, seriously. Go wear something that makes you feel beautiful and do something that makes you happy.”
Step #2: Listen to your friends when they give you good advice, even when it’s easier to stay in your sweats and whine all day.
I was driving my roommate’s car, so I let her know I was going home.
She told me:
Sleep! Or go do something nice for yourself!
More good advice.
So I went home. And sat in the car for a few minutes, feeling sad. The weight of this sadness hung heavily on my heart. (It’s better than binging to avoid the sadness, though. Practically anything’s better than binging when you’re trying to “deal” or stay present with sadness.)
I went inside. Did the dishes. Cleaned my room and made my bed for the first time in two days. (I always– usually– clean my room in the morning. It’s like clearing my head.)
Step #3: Clean. Because you deserve a clean space.
I decided to follow my friend’s advice.
I put on a dress. (This dress, actually.)
Step #4: Wear something that makes you feel STRONG. In fact, do this EVERY day.
I was feeling better already.
I decided to go against the Resistance and actually leave the house to do my work.
Step #5: Get out of the house. See people, even if they’re “strangers.” Drink lots of comforting tea.
I went to the closest coffeeshop by my house, which wasn’t my favorite but that’s okay. I prepared good music to accompany me: Explosions in the Sky’s “newest” album, which came out two days before my birthday, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. (Which I happen to be listening to as I write this, in fact.)
Step #6: Listen to music that you would describe as “amazing”.
I accomplished what I needed to do for the day and sat quietly, enjoying the moment.
Step #7: Do your work, especially when you’d rather succumb to wallowing, whining, and avoiding it instead.
It was approaching 2 o’clock, and here was the salient question:
Would I go to yoga today, or not?
I hadn’t gone to yoga properly in about a week. I got into a good routine that made me feel wonderful in my body in the beginning of the month, but then I started faltering. What was holding me back from going was fear more than anything.
Fear of feeling good in my body again after a week of binging.
Fear of having to use my body after a week of binging.
Fear that not going for just a few days meant that I was terribly inflexible again and that I was going to suck. And not just suck but suck majorly.
And I truthfully didn’t do as well as I usually do.
But I discovered and re-discovered two essential truths:
- It’s possible to do yoga, and even do okay, if not well, while being very, very sad.
- Being in my body always makes me feel better, if not emotionally, then at least physically, and to an extent, mentally.
Step #8: Move in a way that you love. Reconnect with being present in your body. Sweat.
When I came home, I discovered that when I was at yoga, two of my friends had texted me asking to hang out later in the week (a very pleasant surprise), and my sister (who recently gave birth!) called, telling me she missed me.
Moral of that?
Sinking into your sadness always brings about good things.
Yes, good things.
When you not only accept how you feel but learn to live with it, good things inevitably happen. Especially when you can’t see it, when you don’t think it could possibly be coming.
I went over to a friend’s and I cooked a vegan “cheezy” pasta dish with mushrooms, spinach, and garlic, and I ate the first meal in a very long time (or so it seemed) that was mindful, that did not involve me rushing and desperately shoving things into my mouth.
Step #9: Lovingly make a meal for yourself, and eat it slowly and mindfully.
And I felt better.
A lot better.
And that, dear warrior, is How You Reform A Bad Day.
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