What do we do on the days in which we find that our “toolbox” is empty?

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you? You wake up ready to start a new day & but  feel so low that you have no idea how you are going to get through the next 24 hours? If you have a work day ahead then you just focus on that & getting through the best you can. However, what if it’s a day off & you have hours ahead of you with no idea what to do with them?

Occasionally a day such as this may be just what you need but what if it isn’t? All of a sudden, your “normal” strategies seem ineffective. You go to what I term the “Yogi’s toolbox” & nothing seems quite right. You feel like an imposter because in your mind you should be able to cope especially as you do yoga! Well, this happened to a student of mine this week. He faced a day just like this & realised that his normal “go to” strategies for those dark days, just weren’t going to “cut it”. He bravely reached out to me (which I appreciate wasn’t easy) to see if I could offer some Yogic “pearls of wisdom” & this is what I offered.

“Let go” of any perception of feeling that you have somehow failed at yoga. As that really isn’t helpful. Sometimes we can get so bogged down in trying to be the perfect “Yogi/Yogini” that we can lose sight of all the other stuff like self-compassion & not always pushing so hard. These are the days when we don’t want to make big decisions or be with other people (or being with others may not be possible), we just want to be told what to do & quieten that chattering mind. In yoga we term this the “chitta vrittis”.

So, I thought about what I do when I have those days (& yes, I have them too) & I compiled a list of activities that I suggested he may find helpful, a bit like a “pick & mix.”

Here is the list:

  • Have a leisurely breakfast
  • Run a bubble bath & have a long soak
  • Listen to your favourite music (mine would be 80”s songs) although it could change but ideally upbeat.
  • On the subject of music, sing or dance like no one is watching. Sing or dance your heart out. Moving our bodies & vocal cords releases endorphins which we need.
  • Write, or journal. This may be a letter to yourself or start a Gratitude journal, it really works.
  • Go outside in nature. Even if you don’t want to, try & go just for a short while. This always works for me.
  • Watch your favourite movie. For me this is anything Hitchcock related or maybe Bridget Jones but enjoy.
  • Read a novel & be absorbed in it. It doesn’t have to have a purpose.
  • This may be difficult but try to smile. There may be a YouTube clip that always makes you smile or clips of kittens doing cute things.
  • Cuddle with your pet if you have one or borrow one. I walk a “borrowed” dog daily & that brings me joy.
  • Prepare & nice meal & set the table with napkins & candles because you’re worth it.
  • Have an early night in fresh sheets & as you end the day know that you survived it & it wasn’t so bad.

So, I sent the list despite being aware that it may only mean something to me & maybe feel a little prescriptive. When I checked in later that day, I was so pleased to read about all the things he had done, he had literally ticked off everything on the list. Sometimes we just need a task to take us out of our thinking mind.

So my message is that It’s vital to have times where we just have fun & do things for the sheer pleasure of it. We don’t always have to take ourselves so seriously, especially in these difficult times. This is how we show kindness to ourselves. After all, if we can’t demonstrate self-compassion then how can we show it to others? That leads us back to Yoga.

The following day my student informed me that he hadn’t lost his toolbox he just couldn’t find the key. So now the printed list is stuck it on his fridge just in case he needs it in the future.

What would be on your list? I would love know?