How to feel more positive more often?
March 23, 2016 3:06 PM   Subscribe

So this last year has been quite tough. And I find that often in the evenings all I want to do is sit at a computer and consume news/videos/blogs. Well, that's not quite true. Actually I'd rather be creating. But I can't find the energy to lift myself up and turn from consumer to creator. I'm just too tired.

But then sometimes I get a whoosh of positivity that seems to course through me and it energises everything I do. Suddenly I'm baking, or doing lego with the kids, or tidying the kitchen... any tips on how to feel that way more often?!
posted by dance to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
Are you staying hydrated, and getting enough calories? Sometimes even if we're not thirsty or hungry we actually are missing out on energy providing nutrients and having some orange juice or water can help you recharge just as much as you might if you had a small cup of coffee.

But I feel you on the consumer vs creator thing. Life and work are really draining. Sometimes vegging out is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves in the evening. There's always the weekend to get creative after all.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:20 PM on March 23, 2016

I found an enthusiastic teammate and entered a short film competition (I had no experience or education in film). We received an award for our efforts. It really got me out of my slump. I now have a mentor and a couple of creatives that I bounce ideas off of. Is there something like that that you can do? Some path that you have been curious about? Basically, try something new and try to find others to do it with you.
posted by myselfasme at 3:24 PM on March 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'll be interested to see other people's advice here. A few things that seem to help me are exercise (weightlifting actually helps my mood more than cardio but YMMV), moderate amounts of coffee, sleeping enough but not so much that I spend a long time in bed lying there, sunlight exposure, and putting on fun music or podcasts in the background.

People sometimes also recommend shifting the time for your creative activities to the morning, i.e., before work, and just saving post-work time for vegetating with a beer or a glass of wine. And as myselfasme alludes to, deadlines for your creative work can help a lot as well.

But it might be even more helpful for you to do a little research of your own, maybe by journaling about your day and your mood? It's a long-term solution but you might find some interesting patterns given a few months' entries.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:27 PM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Autosuggestion is fantastic tool...just convice yourself in to something.
posted by korpe4r at 3:28 PM on March 23, 2016

Ugh, I struggle with this as well. It's even worse because my creative energy is at it's peak late at night.
It feels wonderful but it destroys my sleeping pattern.

I would say coffee, water and energetic music helps. Not energetic that it's dance-y but creatively energetic. It helps me out tremendously.
posted by morning_television at 3:54 PM on March 23, 2016

What would you do if your internet went out or your electricity went out? I bet you wouldn't sit at your computer wishing you could read stuff and watch videos. You may want to consider getting a browser add-on or app that will block time-wasting sites or limit their usage. I think this is more of a habit and an addiction more than the lack of energy to do something else. Also, if you can wake up and exercise first thing in the morning, you will probably feel more productive, alert and energized all day. Maybe go for a walk or jog as soon as you get up?
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:30 PM on March 23, 2016

I'm going to run counter to everyone and say....just be patient with yourself. It sounds like you've been through some heavy shit, and maybe you just need to recover. I broke my foot a few years back and I wanted to be able to dance when I got the cast off, but my muscles literally couldn't - I had to be careful and take it easy and heal.

This is the same thing. I went through eight YEARS of heavy shit recently, and spent another year kind of where you are now - but I am picking back up again after only a year of zombie ness.

I mean, if any of the suggestions above light you up, go for it. But...also take your time. You need to heal a little, maybe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 PM on March 23, 2016 [15 favorites]

A few things that help me (and don't get me wrong, I still have stints of just computer-inspired loafing)

- having the first and last 40 minutes of the day be no-screen times (Kindle ok, nothing else ok) so I have to learn how to get up and then later relax with no distraction. Literally I set a timer. If nothing else, my dishes get done and I floss because I sometimes get bored. Other days I leave the house and go do stuff. Either way, it helps.
- Reminding myself of what i like to do and doing it even if it doesn't seem like I will like it (showering, eating food I like, going for walks outside, exercise, doing my hair nice, wearing nice clothes). This helps and sometimes getting positive feedback from other people is helpful
- Those other people? HANG OUT WITH THEM. I mean, I have friends I like you'd think I'd make an effort to see them and not just type at them. This can be as simple as meeting for coffee or even doing projects like laundry together.
- Learning to be present in the moment. Having buffer times in the morning and night has helped and meditation and yoga have helped me to just be where I am and not spend so much time feeling like I am NOT somewhere else. It's weird to get your head around (and, honestly, I don't always like it) but it's been helpful to keep my hypercritical"DO MOAR ALWAYS" voice down.

Sometimes it's just down to least harm. Read an essay instead of facebook. Send a postcard instead of an email. Make soup instead of opening a can. Little things that are a little bit of a stretch when you have the blahs. Sometimes it helps push you in a good direction, sometimes it's just an end in and of itself. Better food, more moderate caffeine, better sleep, better stress management and better self-assessment all helped me feel better more often, but sometimes I just go to bed with a book and that's okay too.
posted by jessamyn at 4:54 PM on March 23, 2016 [12 favorites]

One unexpected thing that helped me is iron supplements. It's amazing how such a seemingly minor issue could affect me so greatly.
posted by A hidden well at 5:12 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Baby steps. Don't expect to sit down and write a novel or back the perfect cake. Just enjoy the process.

I found this book to be particularly helpful in getting back into it.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 6:53 PM on March 23, 2016

MetaFilter 101: where is your emotional labor going?

I teach, and toward the end of the term, I run out of energy not only for creation, but for consumption of art. Indeed, my consumption patterns become less emotionally demanding, too (whether I'm reading academic history, literary novels, genre fiction with suspense, or genre fiction without suspense tells you a lot about how work is going). My work has seasonal patterns, so tracing them is easy. Are there subtler patterns in your own commitments?
posted by yarntheory at 8:02 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

It is totally ok to need to veg out and do nothing. What's more, for creative types it's necessary. I'm working on a personal writing project and had taken a few days off it - the other day I was daydreaming and suddenly, quite randomly, thought of a whole different layer I could add to it that would make it better. It wouldn't have happened if I weren't vegging out, listening to music and gazing out of a window. I also think that since your vegging happens in the course of reading news and blogs and stuff, you're probably absorbing all sorts of things that can later inform your creative work.

Other things that can help your creative juices to flow are bouncing off similar people. Do you have a friend you can show your work to? Feedback, even negative feedback (especially negative feedback in my case) really gets me thinking about my work in a different way and can fuel new creative work for days.

I also think you can't be at your creative best if you're not kind to yourself. Sometimes that means vegging out.

Things that keep me feeling energised and positive: regular wake-up times, even on weekends, and having a daily routine. (That sometimes means sacrificing the late-night bursts of creativity in favour of getting a good night's sleep!) Exercise. Coffee. Going outdoors.
posted by Ziggy500 at 8:55 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

the Ten Minute Commitment: whatever the thing is, do the thing for ten minutes. notice how this goes after a few days.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:01 PM on March 23, 2016 [8 favorites]

Get your blood drawn and tested. Maybe you have a vitamin deficiency.
posted by limeonaire at 10:33 PM on March 23, 2016

Sleep more.
posted by deathpanels at 4:41 AM on March 24, 2016

It's OK to rest a while if you've had a tough year. In fact, it's recommended.

All that stuff you're reading and watching will be a good source of inspiration for when you get back up and running. Which you will of course do according to a disciplined and regular routine, not by waiting for the muse. I'm not telling you to wait for the muse here, I'm telling you to rest.

Nthing make sure you're eating enough. I'm shocked at the extent to which women are advised to undereat. If you're not sure, take your current weight, multiply by 13 if you're a couch potato, 14 if you work out 6 days a week, and 15 if your life is a Rocky training montage. That gives you a benchmark for maintenance calories. Then get a food scale and MyFitnessPal and start logging your calories really accurately. Weigh every morning first thing, with no clothes on, straight after you go to the bathroom, and take a 7-day moving average (NEVER go by a single reading). Once you've gone 2 weeks with no more than a 0.5% fluctuation in average weight, that's your maintenance. If you're anything like me, you will be STUNNED at the answers. Undereating was the ruin of me for several years, and I never knew.
posted by tel3path at 5:25 AM on March 24, 2016

One thing that I've noticed distracts me from being creative is a messy apartment. To combat this, I clean regularly (I saw to myself, "Fister, if you don't pick that up, it's not going to magically transport itself into the wastebasket, so you may as well do it now.")

A clean apartment allows me to take the mental energy that I would waste worrying about how dirty my apartment is and focus it on something creative. In fact, the act of cleaning itself gets me moving and out of my screen-rut, which believe me, I'm very familiar with.

I know it's tough to want to clean when you're tired, but give it a try! There's always something that can be cleaned.
posted by Fister Roboto at 7:38 AM on March 24, 2016

Hey there - take your time. I always was so mean to myself that I couldn't be creative or produce right away, but I just got out of a grueling undergrad career, and spent the last 6 months in recovery mode. I didn't really do anything except sleep, eat, reconnect with close friends, and travel a lot. Traveling actually helped quite a bit, because the influx of new experiences helped breathe some life into me and helped me distance myself from the traumas I experienced earlier that year.

I also spent a lot of time indulging myself by learning something new for self-care, so I spent a lot of time learning about interests that I didn't have time for before, or thought I didn't, like skincare routines and web development. Instead of trying to make myself do it, I took my time and gradually enjoyed the learning process again. Eventually, my previous interests and creativity would keep looping back to me, and I'd remember what was so important so that I could have bursts of energy.

I also bought a Happy Light and started eating Vitamin D supplements, and started eating protein-heavy meals, so I would feel more optimal.
posted by yueliang at 12:04 PM on March 24, 2016

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