Getting Back on Track

I have sat in front of this laptop for days on end in a desperate attempt to drag some sort of inspiration from the crevasses of my once, creative mind. When I started blogging I was excited at the prospect of having an endless amount of material I could write about and I began with so many ideas. With both Sam and I living in the country, both having a car we could utilise and a considerable amount of space to make the most of, blogpost ideas sprouted out of my ears and for the most part, we could make them happen. The move to uni changed a lot of this. As much as I love being in the city, I find the open landscape of the country and the mesmeric backdrop of York so much more inspiring. After downsizing to a student apartment and with no cars to get to and from ‘photogenic’ shoot locations, things got a lot harder. Add on a crap load of uni work for both me and Sam and an overkill of personal problems and you have decreasing motivation and crippling self esteem; and this didn’t just affect the blog. I found it difficult to get out of bed for Uni and was never interested in leaving the flat except for shopping for food and the occasional shopping trip, which I convinced myself was a productive activity. January is supposed to be the most depressing month of the year, but this soon extended to February for me and I found myself either indifferent or uncontent with a lot of things. I hated how I looked in pictures taken for the blog, so long day’s spent getting ready and hunting down a decent location and Sam’s effort standing in less than enjoyable weather conditions were rendered pointless after a quick flick through the pictures when we returned home.

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However, the start of March sparked something a little new for me, I was getting stuff done. I was attending my uni lectures and getting up early to do so. My backed up work load decreased dramatically and I gained the motivation to become more active. The only thing I am yet to achieve is create some new content for the blog. So, sat in front of my laptop today I thought why not write about this change in attitude and outlook. I’m definitely not the only one who goes through shitty times every once in a while and so I’ve put together a mini guide on picking yourself up and getting your shit together.

Acknowledge and accept your slump – Sam is an extraordinarily logical and optimistic person which is great…most of the time. When I’m wallowing in my own self pity however, the last thing I need is a happy and overly positive voice in my ear (sorry Sam). Sometimes I need to just be unmotivated and take some time to myself to be sad about things, otherwise I’ll explode after 5 minutes of forcing myself to be happy. If I attempt to do anything productive when I’m still feeling crappy I usually end up feeling worse than before so I’ve learnt to avoid this altogether. Don’t take this as me encouraging unproductive or often destructive behaviour, because I’m definitely not. However, a couple of days used to acknowledge your feelings and regain some perspective can be quite helpful.

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Prioritise – I am an expert at prioritising unimportant things and making them feel as though they need addressing immediately. This is just a way for me to put off daunting tasks that really do need to get done, like that 3,000 word uni essay I’m putting off just to write this post instead. Don’t do this. Important things should go at the top of your list no matter how scary the task at hand may first appear. By not doing this you are only prolonging the inevitable and extending your to do list unnecessarily. If your workload has built up to unmanageable levels maybe it’s best you post pone that lunch date you’ve organised. The feeling of handing in a good piece of uni work, or acing an exam or interview you prepared for properly is much better than the coffee and overpriced sandwich you’ve just eaten. Starbucks isn’t going anywhere and you’ll enjoy that lunch date so much more without the nagging guilt of a long to do list at the back of your mind.

Bullet Journalling – Everyone and their mum seems to be bullet journalling at the moment, and a quick search on google will drag up thousands of examples of weekly spreads and habit trackers Picasso himself would be proud of. Being such a fan of writing lists, even when they’re usually discarded after around ten minutes, the thought of having a bullet journal to hand was an appealing one. When March rolled around I was determined to make the most out of the £15 I’d spent on the ‘Leuchtturm 1917’ and spent a whole night finding inspiration from Pinterest and carefully drawing my spreads out with pretty pens. As a result, March has been the most productive month I’ve had in a long time. I’m not suggesting that by simply owning and using a bullet journal things are going to change over night with very little effort. It still takes a lot of effort on your behalf, but for me the bullet journal gave me a little push (or a massive shove) in the right direction. The biggest help for me so far has been the ‘habit tracker’ and my ‘gratitude page’. The habit tracker is a visual representation of how ‘good’ I’ve been that month, allowing me to visually log when I’ve taken the time to complete uni work, practised some yoga, drank enough water etc.. and as a highly visual person being able to colour in little boxes everyday is embarrassingly satisfying. The gratitude page is perfect for when I’m feeling hopeless and pessimistic; everyday I right about one thing that has made me happy or one thing I am grateful for. Even if I have had the most tragic day, I force myself to look for one positive thing to write about, to remind myself that not everything is shit.

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Power Playlists – This advice is tacky, I get it, but having a playlist of songs to light the fire under my arse, even just for my walk to uni actually really helps. For me the best playlists include 80’s classics mixed with a heavy dose of female icons; I’m talking Tina, Beyonce, Stevie Nicks and the occasional Cher. The best thing about playlists is you can tailor them to the mood you’re in. If you need something motivational, stick on something catchy, or opt for something more chill if you need to de-stress.

Use it – There are a lot of reasons that cause my slip from productivity and positivity to the complete opposite. Some of them, unfortunately I can’t do much about, but anything I can change I will. Use this negative period as a way to recognise what put you there; failing an exam, missing a deadline, screwing up an interview, a bad relationship or friendship. Find a way to change it, if you can. Cut cords with the people who cause unnecessary drama or angst, revise harder for your next exam. Remember how you feel during this time and let it motivate you to try harder in the future or avoid certain behaviours that may cause you to slip back into that slump.

Positive People – Like I said, while I’m in a slump I need overly positive people to stay as far away from me as possible. Thats just how I deal with bad moods. Once I’ve emerged on the other side however it’s a completely different story.  Surrounding yourself with people who have a positive mind set and a great work ethic can really help to keep you motivated and happy. If you find being around people who are lacking in this department damaging to you, stay away from them and don’t feel bad about it either.

Thanks for reading todays post, sorry it’s been a while. Let me know in the comments how you pull yourself out of a slump, heaven knows we all end up in one.

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photography: samuel dennis

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