Slump: that thing where you just can’t find the … enh <waving hand vaguely> stuff to embrace movement with gusto. Or at all.
I was in a slump a couple of weeks ago. For the first time since I started doing the “217 workouts in 2017,” I didn’t think about tracking movement. For days at a time. For 10 days, in fact. I did some things during that time, but they were so incidental that they felt kind of meaningless.
I had no energy to move my body, no motivation to head out the door even when I knew it would make me feel better, and even when I did do some things — a yoga class, a short run, a walk — I felt no joy or grit or satisfaction in completing it. And I even did a thing I might have only done about 3 times in my 26 years as a runner: I got my running clothes on on a lovely evening, got a block out the door and just thought, “enh, whatever” and turned around and went home.
When I finally got my shit together to post about it on the 221 in 2021 group, several other people commented that they had also been struggling. I noticed that — like me — a lot of people weren’t actually NOT MOVING — it isn’t a full “I’m not even putting on the workout clothes” slump. But they are moving less, and feeling unmotivated to do so even when they know it will make them feel better. And even the movement they ARE doing isn’t as restorative as they want it to be. Tracy called it a slumpmentality. Which I define as: “I’m still moving because it’s a habit and a thing I do, but I’m not striving and it’s highly unmotivating and I’m doing the bare minimum.”
Well, it is the third wave of a pandemic. And the allure of spring isn’t quite the same thing when you’re back in full lockdown and your hospitals are crammed to the gills. And I — like a lot of people — am just bone tired. Weary of screens, weary of the sameness, weary with endlessly long work hours and weary with 14 months of deep anxiety hanging over me. (Not to mention the menopausal and feline sleep disruption).
So. What are the other bloggers’ perspectives?
As Martha put it, in simple terms: I am not sure where to start except to say I am very, very tired.
Sam is overloaded too: For me it’s been work exhaustion. I’m working 12 hour days and feeling exhausted. Sleep comes first and so I miss out on exercise. But still I feel better if I do do something so I’ve been aiming for shorter workouts, dog walks. Sometimes that helps. But I also get sad about missing the harder things. Even if I only miss a few days in a row here and there, they feel like slumps since normally working out is a thing I love.
Sam also added: I also feel like I got hit by a truck after being vaccinated! I never have a response to vaccines not even shingrix which everyone warned me about. I ache all over, headaches and sleepy. Also dealing with various work and family crises. Ugh.
Tracy says I was in such a slump that I didn’t even have the motivation to blog about it or find my way out of it through a post about “starting small.” In fact I think I didn’t want out of it quite yet. But I’ve made it through to the other side and the Apple Watch helped. More on that Friday.
Catherine shared her experience of anxiety during the pandemic. I’ve had a series of slumps over the pandemic, especially difficulty in leaving my house. A combination of imposed advisories, fewer incentives (no movies, theater, church, dining out, etc), increased workload and decreased work boundaries, plus massively increased anxiety, which I suffer from in the best of times, has meant that I haven’t walked or ridden nearly as much as I wanted or needed for my own well-being.I have wonderful and attentive friends who encourage me to come outside with them, and that’s helped. I also have friends who have done zoom yoga with me, which also helps. But pandemic-exacerbated insomnia has also taken a toll on my energy and drive. Blech.
Bettina is also trying to balance work, a tiny person and lockdown reality: For me it’s totally work and family-related, but I’m definitely in a slump. The long walks I manage to take on the weekends are nice, but I just can’t get a long, hard workout in – a bike ride, or even better a swim since pools are still closed – the way I used to.
Diane finds a lot of motivation in her group of friends: I have had slumpy days, but they don’t last long because I have a network of friends to check in with. It’s hard to go more than a couple of days before someone calls to ask about a walk or a swim. Scheduled, pre-paid classes help me a lot too. There are times I would do nothing without them.
Nicole’s habit of fitness is serving her well, as she wrote about yesterday: There are three things that I think always keep me going: 1. Knowing I will feel better at end of workout and not feeling ok if I don’t. 2. Fear of family health history catching up to me. 3. Being a creature of habit and having an engrained habit.
She added: I have a couple colleagues who work out regularly and who say they just can’t right now. I worry about them as I think it’s a sign of depression if they usually can and can’t bring themselves to now. I don’t think tips help people in that state. I think it’d be best to speak to a doctor in that case. [Editorial note: I agree. If you’re finding yourself completely unable to move, and this is new, talk to your doctor or your therapist].
For Sam, three smaller bites of movement and projecting forward into what her body will be able to do in the future. 1. I need to remind myself that small things count–yoga before bed counts, knee physio counts, dog walks count. Not everything needs to be a 1 hour strength workout or a massive effort on Zwift. 2. It also helps me to think about plans I’ve made for the summer and getting/staying in shape to do those things. 3. Finally company helps. Lifting with my son or talking walks with others.
My cats know how to exercise in short bursts and then just chill.
So what helps?
For Catherine, it’s seeing some light at the end of a long dark year and going slowly. Now that the weather is warmer and brighter, life is getting better. Vaccination is a real boon—I’ll be traveling to see family and can hug my mom for the first time in over a year. De-slumping won’t happen overnight. I’m trying to be happy with myself for getting through this period as intact as I am, with structure and support and means and plans for biking and hiking and swimming and paddling. And then there’s this pickle-ball thing, which I may check out.
For me, it’s letting myself rest — yes, a walk counts as movement, dammit, and so does cleaning up my deck. It’s trying to go to bed earlier. And it’s a little novelty. Livestreaming a new yoga teacher, walking on streets I’ve never been on before. I fell into a real slump about continuing to work my way through all the zwift routes when all of the remaining 11 were well over 90 minutes and the appeal of indoor cycling has waned as the weather has warmed up. So today, I signed up for a livestream spin class from my usual studio, and ran zwift in the background to get half a route done while taking my cues from Jill, an instructor I like. (It backfired, though! Something went wrong when I paused zwift for a few minutes to get more water and it skipped over part of the route and then after toiling away for almost 1:45 hours, I didn’t get the badge! ARGH!)
I’ve also fallen into capitalist solutions. Although I’d resisted the very idea until now, Tracy’s new apple watch gave me impulse-purchase itchy fingers. I’m tracking it in the mail. And I’m about to hit go on new workout shoes I don’t really need.
What about you? Are you in a slump? What is helping?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who has let herself rest in places as diverse as a barbeque joint in Texas and a yurt camp in Kyrgyzstan.