I can’t think of anything more self-defeating than feeling sorry for oneself. And yet we all have days when we want to curl into a little ball and let the world pass by. I call this Sow Bug Syndrome.
Sow Bugs are tiny gray creatures. When threatened, they curl into a tight little ball the size of a hard pea and roll away. Alas, most of us do not have that option when bad days are upon us.
When I was working full time and had employers and employees who depended on me, as well as my family, I learned to resist Sow Bug Syndrome. The best way, I found, was to force myself to mingle, to be with other people, to put myself in a situation where I had to talk to someone. In a normal situation I could fight it off and become productive again.
Writing, day after day, is a lonely occupation. It sucks out your creativity and if you aren’t careful, your self-esteem. You look at numbers on charts, expenditures for each book, Amazon rankings, number of words written during the past week. If you don’t meet your own expectations you can get depressed. And the urge to curl is upon you (and I’m not talking about the new, wildly popular Olympic sport).
When I was a kid, my feel-better-instantly recourse was to eat something sweet, preferably something chocolate. While it wasn’t good for my over-all health and may have led to some weight problems as an adult, there is some science that backs this. Our brain is loaded with dopamine receptors and when we eat sugar, those dopamine levels surge. Dopamine makes us feel good. When you add chocolate, you get small amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid the brain uses to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness.
I confess I still head for chocolate, and not just when sad. It helped me through rough passages on our boat, an hour’s drive in a severe rainstorm, and a few other frightening experiences. Talking to people, forcing yourself to be normal, is still better than eating your way through a bag of M&Ms. Walking, running, meditating, breathing deeply, losing yourself in a book or concentrating on a project-these are other ways to rid yourself of the urge to curl.
I’m not saying it’s not okay to be sad. Acknowledging one’s feelings is always better than keeping them bottled up inside. But when sadness creeps up and grabs you to the extent you want to curl up and roll away-usually on days you’re loaded with things to do-that’s when you resist the need to be that tiny little bug.
Use whatever works for you.
Or try chocolate. (Grins)