Does this Happen to You?
You start the new year out with all sorts of dreams, goals, and ambitions. Then, they slowly fall out of sight. Eventually, and you are met with a rough patch — a time where those aspirations seem like distant memories and will never happen. As a result, you don’t know how to move past the though times you are facing.
Yea, it happens to me too.
Now, a rough patch in your life might look different than mine. We are all different, so that means our obstacles will vary. This is also a reminder that my troubles do not negate yours. Just as your struggles do not mean mine are less than yours. Our struggles are entirely our own and what is manageable for one person may be crippling for another. So, please. This is not a contest to see who’s rough patch is worse.
What is a Rough Patch?
In my experience, a rough patch typically means I’ve hit a depressive episode. For several years, I have struggled with seasonal depression (some years being worse than others). I’m not sure what it is, but probably has something to do with those long, cold nights.
And, while I’d like to think the issue is only limited to the Winter months, I’d be lying if I said that. On more than one occasion the Summer has been incredibly challenging. You can say that I am constantly at odds with myself. Since the kids are out of school I want to be able to spend time together while enjoying the long, warm sunny days. But, I also feel as though I struggle to prioritize my own needs. (This could very well be a trauma response…)
In other words, I do everything for everyone around me while ignoring the fact I’m a person too… and my own needs go unfulfilled. More specifically, my summer days are regularly filled with driving kids to/from places often leaving me with only a few minutes in between destinations. This severely limits my ability to get alone time (the introvert in me struggles with this a lot) and results in a longing to do something for myself. In this, I usually feel as though something is wrong with me and that causes me to struggle a lot.
Signs that May Mean You Are Struggling
You might be wondering, how do I know if I am having a hard time? Or, I have hit a rough patch?
If you are like me, it can take YEARS to notice these patterns and realize there are recurring themes. Often times, as we go through the motions of life, we don’t have the capacity to notice those repeated cycles. Or, we choose not to acknowledge them. The latter could be the result of not wanting to notice or recognize that things need to change in our lives. You know, because it can be more difficult to change than to acknowledge something needs to be changed and actually take action to do it.
While I’d like to say this is an exhaustive list of signs that you could be struggling, that is not the case. It will take some time to do introspective work to determine your own patterns. But, this list might help you to get a jump start on the process:
Desire to spend more time alone. Not wanting to go out and meet up with people as frequently, or at all. Perhaps you have started ghosting people or leaving messages unread on your phone.
That endless social media scroll has taken over your evenings. Before you realize it, you skipped dinner, didn’t shower, and went to bed at 2 am. If you are not a social media person, this can be watching TV, reading, working out, or just about anything you do to procrastinate.
You self-medicate and try to soothe your anxiety, frustration, or pain by drinking. If you are having a hard time going more than a couple of days without alcohol, you might want to reconsider your relationship with it. The same can be said for medication and/or recreational drugs.
Perhaps people usually rely on you for certain things but you are struggling to follow through. You may have originally had the intention to do it, but you just can’t get yourself to actually do the thing. This could be a sign of something else going on.
Rather, lacking or disrupted sleep. Are you waking up everyone morning at 2 am? Then, having a difficult time getting back to sleep. Your body could be trying to tell you something. Maybe your subconscious mind is trying to process events from your waking life. Or, you are stressed about current events happening. Whatever the reason, disrupted sleep patterns can be an indication that something is going on. On the other hand, you may have an increase in sleep but wake up feeling exhausted instead of refreshed. Either way, your sleep habits can be like a canary in a coal mine trying to alert you that something is happening in your life.
If you are struggling to pay attention to work, your favorite TV, or even conversations, your inattention can be a sign you are struggling. Especially when it is an area that you don’t usually have difficulty concentrating.
You are craving more junk food than normal. Like, there hasn’t been a plant in your life outside of fermented grapes or hops (eh hem, wine or beer) in over a week.
You guessed it… Your mood has been shit. So much so, you don’t want to be around yourself. Am I right?
Ways to Overcome A Rough Patch or Road Block
Just as the signs of a rough patch can vary from one person to the next, you will certainly have different things that help you to overcome them. But, to get you started, here’s my go-to list to get back to the basics and start feeling more like “me.”
1. Make your bed
Yes, making your bed. Your room is the first and last place you are each day. So, make it a safe, happy place to be. Does your bed have to be perfectly made? Nope. Simply pulling the sheets straight across and propping up your pillows is enough.
Take a mental break. Meditating is a great way to be present in the moment. If you are new to meditating, consider guided meditation. My favorite way to do this is with the Chopra App (Yes, I mention it a lot. No, this is not a sponsored post).
3. Yoga (or Stretching)
Wait. Wait. Wait. Before you think this needs to be a big production, take a deep breath. What we think of as yoga in the United States includes going to a studio with lots of people and following the different asanas performed by the instructor. If you are new to the world of yoga, it can be a pretty intimidating place.
Now, you may be able to find a studio that specifically caters to newbies (or at least has a newbie class). But, you can also practice at home.
If the concept of yoga, even in the privacy of your own home, is too much. Consider stretching. Moving your body in a purposeful way to get the blood flowing in areas where it can stagnate is a good thing. It doesn’t have to be a big production. You don’t need a special outfit (unless you really want that). Just take a couple of minutes to stretch your body. When you find a position that feels extra tight, hold that stretch a little longer.
Fun Fact: Yoga was originally started as a spiritual practice to bring harmony to the body and mind.
Redefining journaling. You can journal in a written, spoken (audio), and video recorded manner. Which ever you prefer. The goal is: to remove the thoughts from your mind. This way, you allow those thoughts to escape the recurring thought loops through writing or speaking.
5. Clear unnecessary tasks from your calendar
Give yourself the gift of time by clearing unnecessary events from your calendar. You know the kind that doesn’t absolutely have to happen right now — or at all. Maybe you have a social event scheduled, but are not feeling it. Skip it!
Allow your self a break. This can be a few minutes or a few hours. What ever works for your schedule. As long as you are intentional in what you do during your downtime. This may be focusing on some deep breathing (or meditating). It could be spent looking at pictures that make you smile. Or, involve the next thing on the list…
7. Get out into nature
There is something to be said about Mother Nature. The sheer awe and beauty can help you to relax by being present in the moment. While you are in nature, be sure to pay extra attention to the sights, sounds, and smells.
8. Get creative. Bonus points if your hands are involved.
As a kid, I’d color when I was having a bad day. It always put me in a good mood by helping me to let go of what had happened. The process allowed me to be intentional. Now, you may not be a creative person. That is totally fine. If that is the case, find something that brought you peace and joy as a kid and do that.
9. Clean your space.
Anything. That doesn’t mean everything. Just anything to help you clear up your physical space. The hope is it will also help you to clear your mental space. If the thought of cleaning your space feels overwhelming, focus on two small things you can do. Consider picking up any trash within reach, put your clothes in the washer, or take any dirty dishes into the kitchen. We are not talking making sure everything is detailed.
10. Schedule a session with a therapist, healer, or someone who can help process your emotions and feelings.
Mental health is important. Sometimes we are unable to move through these rough patches on our own. Or, perhaps, it takes us longer to move through them when we do it alone. Take care of yourself by seeking help from a professional or what ever that means to you, such as a healer, energy worker, spiritual guide, etc…
How to Identify Ways to Overcome a Rough Patch that Suits YOU
The list outlined above was the result of doing the following activity for myself. Therefore, if they don’t fully resonate with you, that makes complete sense. By doing this activity, you can help to identify things that drain your energy. In the process, you will be able to recognize ways you feel energized.
Here’s what to do to identify ways to overcome a rough patch that suits your needs:
1. Bust out a piece of paper and divide it into two columns
2. Answer the following questions…
– Left side of the paper: What causes you to feel drained?
As an example, I often feel drained by small talk. It takes a significant amount of energy for me to engage. Similarly, doing things that do not interest me can be taxing.
– Right side of the paper: What causes you to feel energized?
To help you jump start this list, think of things that are the opposite of those that cause you to feel drained. For example, small talk is draining for me. Whereas talking about something I am passionate about gets me super pumped and excited. Another example of something that causes me to feel energized is getting creative. Whether the be through art with my hands or on the computer, it doesn’t matter much. I even enjoy getting crafty with projects around the house or redecorating a room.
3. Next time you hit a rough patch, defer to your energizer list!
How can you take something from your energizer to help pull you through to this hard time? Maybe you need to do a few of these things over the course of a week or two. If you are in a continued funk that just doesn’t go away, make sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor or mental health provider. Sometimes you are not able to course correct by yourself and there is no shame in that. And, so you know, you are not alone in that feeling. There have been several times I’ve had to rely on others to help get me through a rough patch. You can do it too.
4. Follow through
After completing this process, keep the paper in a visible place so you can reference it as needed. It will come in handy next time you are going through a rough patch or hard time. If you have a tendency to misplace papers (uh, raising hand over here), consider taking a picture and storing it as a favorite photo on your phone or keeping it in a place you will remember to look back when needed. For instance, you may write it down in your favorite journal or planner, place it on your nightstand so you see it regularly. Or, scan a copy and email it to yourself. What ever works for you.
Well, that is all I’ve got for you today. I hope you have some ideas to help you overcome that rough patch. Remember, you are not alone. And, you do not need to go at it completely by yourself. It is okay to seek help outside of yourself.
Sending lots of love your way,
Share with Us
Comment below and tell us what makes you feel energized? Do any of your things match up to the 10 things to do when you’ve hit a rough patch or road block described above?
Last Updated on December 28, 2021 by Kristi Coughlin