The other morning, I woke up feeling very depressed and low. Laying in bed, I contemplated how I was going to pull myself through the day ahead. I felt my familiar patterning rise up, and the thoughts started to flood in. Panic about why I was depressed, how long it would last, and what I should do for it. I felt scared to move, as though I would irrevocably shift something in myself for the worst. My mind flashed through scenarios of calling out of work, laying in bed all day, just to make myself feel better. The feeling was a true emptiness, with a hollow feeling in my chest. And then I felt a shift in my perception that happened so quickly it felt like light speed.
Once I noticed and named the feeling of a hole in my chest, it took me out of my head and into my body. My depression was living in that hollow, in that place in my body. I started scanning, breathing deeply, and acting as my own private investigator without locking into my thoughts (which are never necessarily the truth), and without locking into story (“there’s something wrong with me”).
Is any of this a familiar scenario for you?
We can reverse what seems like a tidal wave of emotion by taking a sacred pause, and removing ourselves from our spiraling thought patterns and the “story” of whatever we are going through in the present moment. Regardless of whether it is anger, fear, depression, or any other unpleasant feeling, we can begin to respond wisely and most effectively with this shift from our thoughts to our bodies.
Emotions are alive; they live in our cells, take root in our physical bodies, and the information to decode our shifts in mood can be found there, not in our thoughts.
As soon as I made this shift the other morning and began to intuitively investigate what I was feeling, it became clear to me that this depression was not stemming from any glaring primary life issue. In other words, there were no secret skeletons lurking in my closet that were subconsciously causing me to have this dull feeling. Once that had been established, I remembered that I had been eating pretty irresponsibly over the last few days, on top of not having done any physical movement recently, or having spent time outside. As I am sensitive to these things, especially because I have hypoglycemia, I felt very relieved to have come to some sort of active conclusion! I could do something about this!
This is the gorgeous price of taking the effort to bounce out of our thoughts, and into our gut — we get wise, useful answers at a much quicker rate than we would if we allowed ourselves to hop on the wild brain express train.
My wise investigator wrote a prescription for fresh fruits and veg, tons of water, a hefty dose of Vitamin D, and moving my body around — and I filled it post hast. Two hours later, I had a total 180 in my mood that was so extreme it was surprising. I was teeming with energy and joy. I had made a beautiful smoothie, took 5000 ius of Vitamin D, did some yoga, and got outside in the unseasonably warm sunshine for a long time.
The slump I was feeling truly was all nutritionally activated. And I don’t know if I ever would have assumed that had I not dug deep and gotten present with myself that morning. I believe that I would have spiraled down with my thoughts and assumed that my depression was here to stay.
Of course, sometimes unlocking our negative emotions requires more than just some fresh produce and sunshine. Sometimes we learn what we need to do in pieces, rather than in one big burst, and there may be thorny patches along the way. And things can change rapidly. I woke up this morning with a similar feeling to the other day, albeit much milder, and upon intuitively investigating, found that I was feeling very fearful about two areas in my life, which I handled with a totally different approach today — filled a totally new prescription.
When you wake up with a negative thought, or feeling in your body — pause. Take a sacred pause, breathe deeply, and become objective and compassionate with yourself.
“I recognize that I am feeling some real fear here,” or “I see that I am suffering”. Really be there for yourself, name what is true.
Go into your body. Try to breathe and melt into your care, and then do your best Sherlock Holmes: Where is the fear, or sadness, or anger? Does it live in the bones around your eyebrows and eyes? Does it live in your belly? In your chest? Go into the hollow ache, or the pain, or the tension, and continue to name what is true. Continue to investigate. What does it feel like to see the world through that ache?
What lives there? Are you unhappy with an aspect of your life? A relationship? Your job? Lack thereof?
How have you been eating? Have these feelings been coming up recently on repeat for you? Are you hydrated? Well fed? Research emotional responses to dietary allergies — perhaps you have a food intolerance and you don’t even realize it. (It is quite common for people with gluten intolerances to have depression as a result of consuming gluten, for instance.)
What can you do for yourself at this moment? Can you send love and compassion to yourself? Can you begin to fill your prescription? Will it take time, or is it something that can bring relief within hours, or even minutes.
There are powerful messages in what seem like our darkest corners, and our most fearful places can hold the most light. We can begin to feel empowered, and such a wonderful sense of pride when we show up for ourselves in this way — anxiety and depression can be so disempowering, and by doing this, we are taking back our power. Doing this kind of checking in with ourselves promotes calm, peace, self care, self care, and self confidence, and best of all, it usually means that this icky feelings dont stick around as often as they might have before. I was so proud of myself both of those mornings, because I did not choose to assume that the mental unpleasantness I was feeling was permanent or random. It doesn’t have to be! Begin to develop a gentle practice of intuitively, curiously, and objectively diving under the waves, and feel your life begin to change.