Excuse the very whingey negative blog post. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a bit miserable lately. Normally, I really like autumn. My boots get to come out of hibernation, which is good because I love my boots. September contains my birthday, and the SfEP conference. And both of those things were very lovely indeed.
But as soon as they were over, and the weather turned cold, I fell into what I shall very professionally describe as a slump of shittiness. I was feeling very bad about this, but then an editor friend of mine shared a wonderful blog post (which I now can’t find, dammit!) discussing the same thing, and other colleagues said that they were struggling a little too, and my business coach said that most of her clients were reporting similar feelings. These last couple of months, it seems, have been a bit of a slog for many of us.
It’s hardly surprising. The weather is fucking awful. Politics is a hellscape. Clients are struggling to write for the same reasons, so work is slow. How are we supposed to keep our spirits up in these conditions?
Now, I’m not normally a glass-half-full kind of person, so my instinct is to wail “WAAAAAAAAH I CAN’T DO IT PLEASE JUST LET ME HIDE IN A BLANKET UNTIL IT’S ALL OVER”. Except I don’t know when it will all be over, and I have to pick my children up from school at 3 o’clock, so this is clearly not a viable plan. So here are some of the strategies I’m trying to help pull me through the slump. Maybe they’ll help you too.
Embrace the cold
Yes, the weather sucks now, especially if you live somewhere with such a delightful climate as the north east of England. It’s going to suck for months, so we may as well throw ourselves into it now. Do all your work from inside a nest of blankets. Take hot chocolate breaks every hour. And, most importantly, put the heating on. You get no prizes for holding out until November. It’s a business expense. Be warm.
Use social media wisely
Ah, the piece of my own advice I am least likely to take. But I really should take it, because nothing makes my mood plummet like reading about politics on Twitter. I can’t seem to stay away; it’s like some kind of horrific compulsion. I try to limit the damage by muting as many of the hot topics as I can think of, which means that even when I stray off my main timeline, most of the threads (because the horror can rarely be contained in a single Tweet these days) are unreadable, which often forces me back to where I belong. I’ve actually found that a good way to stay off the wrong bits of social media is to be more active in the right bits. If you’re happily involved in interesting and stimulating discussions about words and books and lovely things like that, there’s less chance you’ll get distracted by reading about whatever whichever idiot is in charge of your country did now.
Girl, (and boy, and enbie, and everyone in between) put your records on
Many editors can’t work with music playing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cheer ourselves up with a bit of it between bouts of editing. Your deadline won’t be harmed by taking three minutes out of your day to blast out something that makes you feel good about life. And, if it’s too cold to #StetWalk, don’t forget there’s now a #StetDanceParty on Twitter every Friday.
This might sound really stupid (things I say often do), but working when things are hard is HARD. So give yourself a bit of credit for that. When I was trudging through September, not enjoying work, and not enjoying any spare time I managed to get either, I had a bit of a moan to my business coach that I felt like a failure because I couldn’t find my get-up-and-go. She asked me to think of it differently: I was feeling crappy, and the work was hard, but I got through it anyway. I met my deadlines; I fed, watered and mostly cleaned my children; and sometimes I even managed to put away the washing. I made myself do that much, and that was something. There are times to be ambitious, there are times when you need to give yourself a firm talking-to and push yourself to fulfil your dreams, and there are times when you just need to get through the week. You should never feel bad about just getting through the week, because sometimes that’s an achievement in itself.
So I’m going to go and have a cup of hot chocolate and a Twitter chat, while Taylor Swift plays in the background. I’m not sure about the heating though; let’s not get too crazy all at once.