I’ve been using the term “emotional marathon” a lot these days to describe what it is like to stay in an extremely uncomfortable circumstance for an extended period of time. There has been a great deal of emotional stamina required of all of us recently and inevitably we become drained, unmotivated and emotionally tired.
What can we do to keep going when we feel like we’ve hit a wall?
Let’s brainstorm some tactics to have in your back pocket and readily available when you are mid-emotional marathon and need some support to keep going.
- Own your feelings.
Depending on who you are, this may come easily or it may feel like uncharted territory. Give it a whirl no matter which camp you fall in.
If you are hitting a wall, say out loud “This is hard.” No need to elaborate or continue with stories to describe why. Keep it simple and see if you can do this as an act of compassion towards yourself.
Admitting to being in a tough spot does not mean you are surrendering or throwing in the towel. It is an act of courage to name where you are at out loud (even if just to yourself) so that you are free consider what action you can take next.
Gratitude journals are all the rage right now, and they can be extremely useful. If you can reach for a piece of paper and start journaling about what you are grateful for, go for it!
However, when we are really hitting a wall, the thought of gratitude journaling might be out of reach. Make it simple. Choose three things you are grateful for and write them down. This takes less than a minute and gently encourages your mind to remember the positive in your life. Any spots of light in your life will ultimately be your fuel to keep running the emotional marathon.
- Play a game of “yes.”
This is a game you will win just by participating. Say “yes” as many times as you can. This can be in conversation with others or in your internal monologue.
“Yes” is the most simple way to embed encouragement into your world and gently rewire a negative mindset.
“Yes, I’m staying in bed.”
“Yes, I’m feeling angry.”
“Yes, I’m taking a shower.”
- Show someone else a kind gesture.
When we express our love and support towards others, we give ourselves purpose. Purpose gives us energy and joy.
This can be very simple. If you don’t have the emotional bandwidth to give call someone and listen to what’s up in their world, maybe you send them a funny video or a quick text that says “Thinking of you”.
On the other hand, if this sounds like a practice that resonates with you- go big! Maybe you start knitting a blanket for someone or write a letter and send it in the snail mail. Could you make a sign to thank your local delivery person? Notice how your love extended outward will eventually come right back to you.
Singing opens many channels for us including outward expression of emotions that are weighing us down. The literal act of making sound changes our energy levels, loosens body tension, and just makes us smile. Choose a song you love, choose a song that is connected to a memory, or turn on some hardcore metal you can rock along with.
The objective here has nothing to do with what you sound like, so if you are one of those “I can’t sing people” — sing louder.
Remember that hitting a wall is not an indication that you are failing. No one gets through life and gets to skip emotional fatigue. Balance will be restored and you will find yourself on solid ground again. How will you help yourself get there?
You’ve got this, friends!