Dealing with the Doldrums

“Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.” – Julia Cameron

Do you ever struggle with a bad mood? We often hear about positive thinking, but when we’re having a bad day, sometimes we can’t just flip a switch and think positive. So how can we improve a bad mood?

Recently, I berated myself for not living up to my own expectations. After a job loss and my mother’s death six months ago, I’ve been lethargic and have not accomplished all that I wanted to. This is frustrating. I looked at myself as if talking with a friend, and asked, “What do I need right now?”

I’d been cooped up in the house and had been spending much time on the computer. I decided I needed to be outside and see something different. I grabbed my journal and drove to one of my favorite places, an arboretum where I am a member.

There, I walked around a small lake. Ducks splashed in the water and birds chirped. A light breeze touched my face and I heard the rustling of leaves. I sat on a bench in a quiet spot and reflected that the scene before me was God’s beautiful painting of a lake surrounded by trees. It was cool, so I bought a hot chocolate and drove around the arboretum with my windows cracked open. I paused at the prettiest spots, told God my problems, and asked Him for help.

I realized that I have the lifestyle I’ve always wanted—the life of a writer. I do social media, I network, and I have a flexible schedule. All I’m missing is the actual writing! However, I perceived that this is my fallow period. When the soil in a field has been depleted, farmers may let it lie fallow for a time before it is replanted. I had been depleted by intense emotions about my job loss and the death of my Mom. Apparently I need a fallow time before I can fully embrace my new lifestyle as a writer. I left the arboretum feeling grateful for this time of rest and renewal.

What are your ways to cope on a bad day? When our kids were young, my friend Lori suggested, “Make everyone smile for five minutes including you. At my house, even though we’re all ‘smiling’ through gritted teeth, this improves our mood and our day.”

Of course, for serious depression or mood swings, please seek professional help. But for occasional doldrums, how do you take care of yourself? When you’re feeling moody, what do you need? Please share your ideas below.


About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: Facebook page:
This entry was posted in Bad days, faith, Gratitude, Inspiration, Job loss, Nature, Renewal, self-care and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Dealing with the Doldrums

  1. Julia says:

    Spending time with friends always improves my mood immensely. Some of my favorite activities with them include exercising at The Dailey Method, chatting at Starbucks, going out to lunch and hiking at various forest preserves in the area.


  2. Roseleen Buyong says:

    Thats wonderful Susan, wish I could do the same. I love the scenery you visited, we dont have that where I live. Wished I could afford to just go somewhere too, being alone with just one’s thoughts help…….


    • Susan says:

      Roseleen, yes, I’m thankful. But usually scenery can be found for free if we look for it. Retention ponds and parks are often beautiful, and a library is a great place to journal. What can you do to take care of yourself?


  3. Playing my instrument and listening music helps me a lot. Anyway, your post is very nice, sincere and with positive attitude. I agree that we should feel grateful to the gifts of life, which are often a simple day-to day details and, therefore, we are not (always) conscious that those are really gifts.
    I wish you all the best, Frano


  4. Susan says:

    Frano, I agree with you about feeling grateful, and I appreciate your reminder to listen to music. Thank you for commenting.


  5. Margarita says:

    Susan, great point to think about…
    After years of meditation, i do not get moody too often. But yes, it happens – we are all human beings. In this case I seek the silence. God is always present for all of us, in our hearts, but he speaks silently, in a whisper.
    In order to be able to hear our true voice, we must eliminate the background noise. When we reach the silence and connect, the vastness comes to remind us, that we are all one. It is a peaceful experience.


  6. Hi Susan,

    First I want to say how very sorry I am to hear of your mother’s passing. I lost my Dad nine years ago but still have my Mom with me. I can’t even imagine my life without my Mom so my heart goes out to you and you deserved that time to be down. Sometimes we need that time before we can move on to better things.

    I haven’t had a bad day in so long I can’t remember my last one. Yep, I’ve been working at home for the past five years and although they all have been pleasant days, they’ve been pretty darn good. Like you, I’m doing what I love and I couldn’t be happier.

    Whenever I do get in a funk though I put on something comical to lift my spirits and then go outside for a walk. That usually helps but then again, sometimes we just have those days.



  7. catnipoflife says:

    Getting outside definitely perks ones mood…even dancing in the rain! Then, of course, are the tranquil nights when the stars really put on a show but only after that miraculous sunset has dipped deep down into the soul!


  8. Sarah Smith says:


    I really enjoyed this post of yours as I’ve been in and out of doldrums myself for the last 2 years due to so many different circumstances. It can sometimes be a daily effort on my part to help myself from sinking too deeply into a pity party or depression but it’s always worth it to work at pulling myself up. Your article gave me some much needed reminders from the very first quote to the end when reminding me that we all go through fallow periods and many times MUST go through those periods in order to grow and move forward. Thanks for that!



    • Susan says:

      Thank you, Sarah. I am gaining so much from these comments. Yours reminds that we’re not alone and can gain strength from each other. Wishing you happiness and health as you get through your fallow time.


  9. I’m fortunate to live in the country and, weather permitting, I like to go for a walk and look at the sky and the trees and be thankful I’m alive. But also, achieving something with my writing always makes me feel encouraged, even if it’s only one really good paragraph.


  10. Emily Schleiger says:

    I don’t drink coffee daily, so that’s a nice treat that literally warms me and cheers me. I also have a gratitude journal that always puts me in a good mood when I write down my blessings. Any kind of exercise usually gets me out of a funk–I say exercise is like a natural anti-depressant for me! Writing anything helps, but when I’m in a bad mood I find it very difficult to focus and write anything, unfortunately. Gardening has been very mood-lifting for me because I am always amazed at how God makes things grow (even this summer with the heat and drought I actually ended up with a few vegetables and I was amazed!). Also when I can’t go somewhere pleasant, just looking at vacation photos of ours takes me away and I can imagine being back in more pleasant places.


  11. Pingback: Finding Beauty Wherever We Are | Women Making Strides

  12. Pingback: Can We be Grateful? | Women Making Strides

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