Steering Out of the Doldrums

For the last two weeks, I’ve struggled with the late winter doldrums. I’m ready for spring, but Winter. Just. Won’t. Go. In sailing usage, “doldrums” refer to a low-pressure area around the equator where the winds disappear and sailing vessels could be trapped for days or weeks. That sums up my feeling: I’m becalmed, waiting for spring’s energy to blow my life back on course.

I’ve been listless and had trouble mustering enthusiasm for new projects. Consequently, I’ve elevated my knack for wasting time to new heights (that should probably be “new lows”)—

  • Sleeping longer than normal (my body resists getting up in the dark again)
  • Reading mysteries (my go-to escapist read) instead of more challenging literature
  • Researching facial moisturizers (Seriously?!? That might deserve half an hour of my time, not the two hours I actually gave it.)

This is familiar territory, so I go easy on myself when I recognize the pattern. In fact, that’s part of the cure—recognizing and accepting that I’m in the doldrums.

Dissatisfaction and restlessness prod me to analyze where my time actually goes (this is pretty geeky, but it works for me). At first, I neutrally list how I’ve spent my time recently.

That brings to mind a few things I ought to do (wash the kitchen floor, clean the bathrooms). I cross out those—they’re definitely not mood-lifters!

Soon, my mind shifts from chores to daydreaming about what would be fun to do. A fresh little breeze of possibilities stirs. I begin a new list.

For years, I’ve recalibrated my priorities by regularly asking myself: Am I living the life I want to lead? How can I tinker with my free time or refocus my efforts to be sure my work and family commitments are satisfying?

I’m taking a new tack and moving forward again.

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7 thoughts on “Steering Out of the Doldrums

  1. Good post.Ellen. It is hard to muster enthusiasm when presented with the two-steps-forward, one-step-back weather we’ve been having lately. I think the time change messes with our rhythms more than we’d like to admit, too. At least it has been sunny this past week, it does wonders to lift my mood.

  2. Hi Ellen, Your musing question at the end of this post is timely. I am wrestling with a work/life problem at the moment and it has been keeping me awake at night. I’m going to take your advice “…to refocus my efforts to be sure my work and family commitments are satisfying.” Thanks for that and enjoy reading those mysteries! Have you discovered Louise Penny?

  3. I’m right with you, and even recognized several of the symptoms! I’m glad you’ve not only recognized the problem, but are moving forward to get out of the doldrums. And I’m going to follow your example!

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