What to do when it's just a down day? It's Sunday. Sundays can be sort of inherently sad. I think for many of us, Sunday represents a difficult mental transition from fun-time to work-time, and it might contain a fair amount of anticipation or dread for the week to come. Sunday afternoon is basically the opposite of Friday afternoon. But, there's something more than that Sunday malaise that I'm feeling right now. My dad died almost 7 months ago. A couple of weeks ago, I had a sort of grief breakthrough and I was feeling very good for the first time in a while. But within the past couple of days, grief has crept up and is standing before me again, arms reaching out. I feel blue, down.
It's midday, it's beautiful and sunny, we're doing some good DIY home projects...there is every reason to be grateful. So can I do it? Can I honor my grief, and yet not be covered by it? Can I rest with the thought that part of the world is missing, and also the thought that I can still love the world and my life?
I don't actually see what choice I have. I have been slowly learning over the past few months that these kinds of feelings can't be denied or wished away or pressed down into non-existance. They need to be acknowledged, recognized, and cared for.
Imagine that the body gets a virus, a flu. Do we try to go about our business as usual thinking, "I'm fine, I'm just going to ignore my symptoms and they'll go away, then I'll feel better?" No, we assess our symptoms and try to figure out the best way to care for them. We try to give ourselves as much peace and rest as possible until we're on the mend.
I'm learning that this kind of self-care is also needed for our feelings, moods, and states of mind. We can recognize that we are feeling some negative way and think about how best to care for ourselves. Connect with people? Hole up on the couch? Get outdoors? What is required? What would give space for this emotion, this state we're in?
For me, on this Sunday afternoon, I am enjoying staying close to home so that I feel I can cry if I want to cry. In addition, part of the Sunday malaise for me is feeling like I may have wasted my weekend or not enjoyed myself fully. To help myself, I can set a few little intentions for this day, to make it feel that the day was used well.
I'll finish my DIY project and clear up the patio mess that ensued. I cleaned and repainted a vintage kitchen table that my family used to use when I was a kid. It's coming inside to become the core of my emerging home office! Getting to set this up will be satisfying and exciting because I will finally have a space to read and write that's not the middle of the breakfast table!
My husband and I will get out of the house and outside for an hour or two-- a bike ride or walk to the beach or a drive somewhere. Beauty...natural beauty...perfect for any state of mind.
I will write something (oh look at that, I just did!). For me this is a very meta post. I am writing about the need to recognize and sit with our negative feelings, and I am doing this in order to give space to the negative feelings that I am having. I manage to forget this from time to time, but writing is always very therapeutic for me.
I am a big fan of treating ourselves like a series of experiments in search of answers to some question like, "how can I feel healthy and happy?" "what is possible and sustainable for my growth?" Negative feelings give us a chance to explore things that we would never imagine in happier times. So, I'll live this day, incorporating accomplishment, movement, natural beauty, and reflection...and then just see what happens. I don't expect that my mood will zoom up to ecstatic, and that is ok... all will be much better than if I had chosen to simply push down my negative thoughts, unexamined and ignored.
Here's to grand and tiny experiments within ourselves every day.