Well, well, well… if it isn’t crippling emotional baggage again. I knew you’d come crawling back.
Today I woke up late, had breakfast at 2pm, watched YouTube, called my mum, played a bit of Hollow Knight and sat down to write a blog post. It is now 6pm. And it’s British wintertime so it was dark outside like 3 hours ago. This is a wasted day.
The Wasted Day
If you clicked on this post you might already have an idea of what you consider a wasted day. But I have listed some typical experiences below:
- You feel very tired but you’ve done less today than yesterday and you weren’t as tired yesterday. So you don’t deserve to feel tired.
- You had plans for today. They have not even remotely been accomplished. And you’re not sure why.
- You feel like this failure of a day crept up on you but also that it’s absolutely your fault that it happened.
- You’re embarrassed to face your loved ones so you’re trying to act like things really aren’t that bad.
- You find yourself staring into space and wondering if a shower would help. It might.
- You have started making a list for tomorrow but it’s just everything you meant to do today plus everything you planned to do tomorrow and, as you write it, you know it’s not realistic.
- You feel lethargic and want to lie down but the thought of sleeping kind of sickens you. You probably woke up late.
- You’re sick of wasting your time watching stuff or scrolling on your phone and don’t want to anymore but you don’t have the energy to do something productive.
- You wish you had a pet to love you (applies to non-pet people).
- You’re eating more/less than usual.
- You might want to cry but you’re feeling too bored.
Combined, all of this is a total mood. It’s this weird existential fatigue that you’ve likely felt before but every time you feel it, it’s fresh and you’re vulnerable. A day wasted soon catastrophises into feeling like your weekend will be wasted or your week or your month, maybe even your life. It’s a thoroughly unpleasant feeling of worthlessness, pointlessness and self-blame. Maybe I’ve hit the nail on the head for you. Maybe you don’t feel this and now you’re thinking “oh wait, I’m not that bad. I’m OK really.” And so you’re just going to walk away and live your life like I don’t even matter.
Fine! Go read this post about running instead! Because not enough people have! And I worked hard on it! Thank you!
Why these Feelings?
I usually like to do some deep introspection of why I feel the woes I feel. But I think the why is pretty clear in this case. It was a fine cocktail of bad things.
- I was very tired yesterday, it was the end of my work week. So I forced myself to have a relaxing evening.
- I didn’t sleep well because I had a terribly sore throat and the Strepsils only succeeded in numbing my tongue and giving me donkey-breath.
- I assumed today would be more productive since I relaxed yesterday. Plus it’s blog posting day! I was meant to post a Part 2 to my last post. That’s not going to happen until next week now. Sorry.
- I woke up late today and it got dark soon after. Winter is awful. I hate it.
- Life is very repetitive and boring in lockdown and I lack stimulation from the outside.
My base routine at the weekend is doing laundry, doing dishes, cooking, chilling with my husband and cleaning. My additional routine is to blog, study for an exam in December and plan my future. Generally, the bar for accomplishment is relatively high. Relative to what I felt able to do today. And the mind is a sneaky thing in that it assumes that if you did something easily last weekend, you’ll be able to do it again this weekend.
But I am not a consistent person.
This will upset stoics. And I don’t mean to step on anyone’s philosophical approach to life. But stoicism is not for me. I cannot bear the burden to be stable all the time. Sometimes I carry the emotional burdens of my family, sometimes I need to take the day off and ask for help.
And when you make the choice to lower the bar of your own expectations, there’s a tendency to feel guilt and shame. It’s as though you’re skipping school by pretending to be sick. Because even if I truly believe that mental health should be taken seriously, I have yet to internalise this to the point where I stop blaming myself for needing off days. I worry that if I have these floppy funk days then something must be wrong with me. It’s the physical health equivalent of going for a run and then thinking you’re ill because your body hurts the next day.
If you get the sensation the day is “wasted” or lost, snap out of your demanding mindset. Go for a walk, draw a picture, read a book. Don’t force yourself to do what you expected yourself to do. If any of those things seem too extreme, then go for monotony. Wash dishes, sort out your sock drawer. Still too much? Change out of your pajamas or take a shower. Set the bar low and accomplish something. Make a new list in your head and fill it with the simplest tasks. My tasks today were to take a shower, call my mum and try to write.
And I was able to reward myself for each of those things. It is now nearly midnight so I won’t be posting this Friday, which makes me sad. But hey, I did everything on the new “I am a Flop” edition of my to-do list. And by having fewer things to accomplish, I allowed myself time to do them.
So rearrange your expectations for the day then reward yourself for what you are able to accomplish.
And finally, don’t catastrophise. You are not what you do. You are especially not what do on your worst day.
I sometimes read articles that give advice on “how not to be lazy” and “why you’re not getting enough done”. And it kind of worries me. Because a “wasted day” or “flop day” is not you. It doesn’t define you as a lazy person. Only you give yourself that label and then look for solutions to solve it. That is not to say that the advice given is incorrect, but it presumes that you have reason to feel bad. The best advice is just to look at what you have on your plate and decide whether you have the mental appetite to process all of it. Often we expect too much from ourselves and the inability to reach those expectations is what leads to us thinking we are lazy or incompetent.
And then we find these articles and… I guess I am part of the problem here. I called myself a lazy flop and said I had “wasted my day” hoping you’d find me. Sorry.
The truth is that there will be many more days like this. Because my feelings are not consistent. This day feels bad but it isn’t emblematic of my nature. It doesn’t define me and there will be more like it. So I should listen to how I feel and achieve what is reasonable.
Oh and a final thing? Tell someone you love how you’re feeling. Hearing a loved one tell you it’s okay to feel how you feel is the best remedy to get over this feeling. It’s validating and encouraging and shows you that the war in your mind is not what others see when they look at you. You’re doing fine. Really.
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