Have you ever heard the phrase " it's ok to not be ok"? Until recently I had never heard this phrase and when I heard it I had to stop and think about that one.
Is that really ok? Did I ever think that wasn't ok?
I had never really stopped to think about if I had preconceived notions about what not being ok, sadness, challenges, and struggling meant to me. But when I stopped to think about it I realized that maybe not consciously but subconsciously I didn't think these emotions were ok. So when I had a bad day, I would try to hide it and pretend like everything was still ok.
We will all experience tough days. That is just a fact of life.
Some days are a big, stinking pile of dog poop.
In fact, some weeks are big, stinking piles of dog poop. In fact they are bigger, stinker piles of dog poop than the public trash can my neighbors and I all use to throw out our dog's poop on a hot day in July.
Maybe some of those days go a little something like this...
Today I was undermined by a colleague at work, my boss is a total jerk and called me out in front of everyone, I forgot to put the trash out on the curb (again,) my partner and I are fighting because we don't know how we will pay rent this month, I said something insensitive to my friend and now she's mad, and this morning during my commute I was rear ended. Also to top it all off I'm waiting to get those test results back from my doctor that I'm so nervous about.
Everyone has these days, or weeks, or even months. But what can we do about it? Are we expected to out on the brave face, be a ray off sunshine and just pretend like our worlds aren't crumbling around us? Or do we go the opposite direction and be totally transparent about what's happening in life and how it's impacting us?
I'm not sure I know the right answer and I'm not sure the same answer will be right in all situations, but I do think that there are somethings that you can do to help soothe yourself after a tough day.
Well duh Kelly, you're a meditation teacher so obviously you think this will help. Fair point, but hear me out.
For me, meditation is the one thing that can stop a bad day from turning into a bad night. It is so easy to just chalk a day up to a total dog poop day and go home snap at your partner, grump around the house, look at everything through the lens of a bad day and continue to have a string of bad things happen.
But if you can just stop, pause, and meditate on unwinding from a long day, or letting go of the stress behind you even for 10 minutes I promise it will help, and it's not just me saying that. Science backs me up too.
When we are under stress, our brains not only fail to function properly, but the amygdala, or the part of the brain associated with emotions can get larger and activate longer which makes you think there is even more stress than there actually is and for longer periods of time.
So not only will you respond to your normal life stress, your mind will make you think that there is more stress in your life and you will start having larger and bigger emotional reactions to stress and tough days, and the pre-frontal cortex, or the area of the brain associated with concentration, higher brain functioning, and decision making becomes weaker.
What does that mean? That means if you let tough days lead to tough nights, which then leads to tough weeks, and tough months, and so on and so forth so you're always under this constant stress and pressure your mind will turn into the equivalent of an overly emotional middle school girl.
But when you mediate the opposite happens. Your Amygdala begins to shrink in size and your pre-front cortex becomes stronger and denser, which turns the volume down on the stress reactions and large emotional responses and makes you more aware, conscious, and rational person. It's almost like opening a valve and letting some of the pressure go.
So while I think it is definitely ok to not be ok, and bad days are going to happen, taking even 10 minutes after work or a stressful situation to stop, pause, can stop you from getting into that constant cycle of stress, emotional response, negative feelings, and big dog poop days.
I believe in this idea so much that I actually created a whole meditation just for it. This week on the Mindful in Minutes podcast I did an unwind from the day meditation that helps you stop, reset, and unwind to stop that cycle.
To hear more thoughts on tough days and what to do with them check out the full vlog here.
Deepest gratitude, Kelly