Between social media, television, books and the general interconnectivity of the world, the rat race is an overwhelming notion. There are points of competition everywhere, even when you have no intention of comparing yourself to the successes of someone else. It's impossible for it not to seep into your mind. Sometimes, the comparisons make one feel like they've lost a game they didn't know they were playing.
Then it's just a matter of slipping down the rabbit hole. Suddenly, all your choices are doubted and you wonder if every decision you've made is wrong.
Fear not. There are ways to escape that haze and regain the clarity required to continue forward on your own unique path.
1) Take a walk. Yeah, yeah. You hear this one all the time. But did you know that exercise stimulates blood flow and oxygen to your brain? This in turn causes your mind to function sharper, think better and promote memory strength. All the better to remember you are successful and intelligent and right on time.
2) Take up a creative project. During undergrad, we had exam weeks during certain points in the semester. As an RA, I had 100 stressed out students on my floors. I organized a trip to the local pottery painting place after a couple of those exam weeks to ease the tension--and I cannot describe how smoothly life seemed to operate afterward. According to the Cleveland Clinic, an adult has over 60,000 thoughts a day and 95% are the same. Creativity taps into the 5% you aren't using all the time and allows you to revitalize your senses.
3) Break your routine. Type-A folk, hear me out! Routines provide comfort, efficiency and an organizational system for our minds. However, like the 95% of thoughts we have that are the same, mixing it up makes your brain come alive and work a little harder. By doing so, you may be able to shake off the funk you're in.
4) Scare yourself. Afraid of heights? Maybe take a trip to the observation deck of a skyscraper. Hate driving in the snow? Go for a ride around the block. Raise your anxiety for a few minutes and get yourself a blood rush. Note, however, that tackling a fear should be reasonable--if you know you'll panic (as I do with a phobia of snakes), please take care of yourself first and don't attempt anything that will cause more damage than good.
5) Read a book. I know...a writer is telling you to read a book. But imagining yourself as someone else, feeling their losses and eventual victories, can snap you out of your own comparison game and bring you a fresh new perspective about your own life.
6) Build or fix something. It doesn't have to be crazy. Maybe your faucet leaks. Perhaps you've needed to put up a shelf in your living room for ages and you've put it off. Maybe, like me, your fridge makes an odd squeak every once in a while and you need to investigate. The sense of accomplishment will help you refocus and feel good about yourself, allowing you to tackle your next project with greater confidence and verve.
7) Write a note to someone you haven't spoken to in a while. A few days ago, while my family and I were on a mini-vacation, we were watching home videos from my 11th birthday. I realized I hadn't spoken to one of the girls on it in a while, and I sent her a message. Now, in the mornings, I look forward to hearing about Stephanie's life and her day, and it reminds me of being a child and all the dreams I had that I've fulfilled. By reaching out to people who have known you at your heights, you're surrounding yourself with positivity and the belief in your abilities.
8) Put out a call to the universe. Don't you roll your eyes at me! Simply say out loud and proud, "I want the universe to give me and my loved ones all the successes we desire." Soon enough, success stories will come pouring in and they will feel like your own. By relishing other people's triumphs, our own hearts lift and we can feel inspired. The universe will listen...believe me. You will get yours too.
9) Go hit something. I'm talking about batting cages, a punching bag, your feet to the pavement as you go for a run...Work off some of that frustration! Like exercise helps blood flow, simply channeling that anger and fogginess can give you a clear mind, as if you've unloaded the weight on your shoulders and are ready to start fresh.
10) Give thanks. On a personal note, watching marriage proposals, babies, houses, promotions and book successes when I've felt low is sometimes so depressing. I'm not bitter at anyone else. In fact, I'm usually the first to congratulate someone on their good fortune and hard work...but when you're already low, sometimes it can make you question, "Why not me?" I had a good friend remind me of how I got to where I am...the sacrifices I made but also the support I had along the way. By giving thanks for the small things--even something as simple as "Thank goodness there were oranges at the grocery store today when I was craving!" can go a long way in granting perspective.