4 ways to beat the doldrums


We've officially hit the dog days of summer here in Houston, and boy, have I been feeling it.  With this unrelenting heat, I've just been feeling lethargic, unmotivated, and generally ... dull.  I keep wishing I was back in the Caribbean Sea.  Or that it was cooler.  Or that we were moving into our house.

Basically, I've been doing anything but focusing on my work and my career.  And this isn't good, because I need to work.

So for the last few weeks, that I've been trying to work through these doldrums, and figure out how to work my way out of them.  And while I'm not out of them yet, here are a few things that seem to be working, in the event that you're working your way out of your own doldrums, too:

1)  Map out your goals.  I promise, I'm coming up with an online course to help show you how to do this effectively -- I really hope I can have something put together by September -- but basically, graph your journal and write out the goals that you'd like to achieve in, say 12 months, and come up with the steps it would take to get there.  But when you write your goals -- and this is the important part -- write down why these goals are important to you.  What would achieving your goals bring to your life?  Taking a moment to codify your "why" will help bring meaning to what you're trying achieve, and might just be the motivator you need.

2)  Do something to move, or move differently.  Sometimes one of the best things I can do to shake myself out of my doldrums is to take some time to get out of my head, and into my body.  Schedule in a walk or a hike in the middle of your day, to get rid of the cobwebs.  Or, if you already schedule midday walks, then instead of walking, do something completely different, like head to the gym.  Or do a solo dance party.  Or some yoga stretches.  Or hula hoop.  Sometimes inspiration and motivation can strike when you give your brain a rest, and let your body do the work for a while.  

And speaking of rest ...

3)  Take a break.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've given in to my lethargy, and just taken a nap.  I set my alarm for 20 minutes, turn off all the lights, and drop into as deep a sleep as I can.  When the alarm goes off, I find myself really refreshed and ready to go again.  (By the way, have you heard of napercize?  Apparently this new Scottish craze, of 15 minutes of intense workout, followed by 45 minutes of napping, is based on research that shows that a midday nap can do wonders for your productivity, and doing so right after working out can help you burn calories.  Honestly, it feels a bit ridiculous to pay a place for a 45-minute nap, but the idea of maybe spending 30-minutes working out followed by 30 minutes of napping sounds really invigorating, and way more fun than a 60-minute workout.  If any of you have done this, please leave a comment about what you thought.  I might have to try it myself out to see.)

4)  Listen to someone who inspires you.  Sometimes a great song or story from someone you admire can be really inspiring.  A few days ago I downloaded The Essential Nina Simone and have had it on repeat while I work; her life story is so amazing and listening to her soulful voice seems to be lighting a fire under me.  If you're not into music, there are always those amazing TED talks -- this one by Elizabeth Gilbert about finding your genius is an oldie but a goodie.

I hope these ideas help, friends.  Here's to surviving these sultry summer days.  And if you have any tips or tricks on how to spark motivation when all you want to do is relax, I'd love to hear them -- feel free to share them, below.


Soundtrack:  See-Line Woman by Nina Simone (Masters at Work Remix)