Today hasn’t been great. Just haven’t felt up to snuff.
Why? The main suspect is the second booster shot I got on Wednesday. My first two, plus first booster, were all Moderna. This fourth one was Pfizer. My only reaction to the first three was a sore arm. That’s it.
This time, the arm isn’t that sore, but I feel a little woozy and off. Not full-on flu symptoms as some people experience, just off.
I’ve heard that mixing the vaccines has given people some rough reactions, but that it’s a good idea because it creates more antibodies. So I did it. Who knows?
A rundown body
I also might be a bit rundown from working out seven days in a row. My body isn’t 23 anymore and needs a day off now and then. So I took today off.
I also feel like I’m still in recovery mode from having my in-laws here for two weeks. No big problems on their visit; just having to sleep and work in a merry-go-round of rooms each day. I’m sure you writers out there understand. We love us our routines.
Ain’t writer’s block fun!
The above three factors combined to throw a fourth ingredient into my ‘blah’ feeling stew: Good old writer’s block! Isn’t that fun, fellow writers? Just sitting at your desk all morning and all that goes through your head is, “Ugghh. I have absolutely zero interest in writing anything.”
Weighing on me was the added element that today is Friday and I’ve been pretty good the past few years at writing two articles a week. I’ve only written one and my week usually ends Friday. I’ve been trying not to write on the weekends, mostly to give some time to refill my creative tank.
Alright, enough complaining. How did I use mindfulness to help me in today’s battle with the blahs? It was mostly one small-ish thing and one bigger.
A mindful walk to the rescue
The small-ish: As I sat at my desk, ping-ponging among “Hmm, what would be a good article topic?”, checking U.S. Open golf scores and reading the latest terrible news in the Washington Post, I finally decided to do something smart. I got my butt out of the chair and went for a mindful walk.
Normally, I go for a quick five minute jaunt to the Back Bay, look at some birds and the beautiful scenery, then head back to my desk. This time it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to work out so I decided to go for my longer, thirty minute walk.
It was just what the doctor ordered. It was a beautiful day, I got my blood going and saw and listened to some amazing birds.
More important was something I did several times today. When I found myself going to that place of,
“God, I feel terrible. And I can’t write anything. And…”
In other words, when I was about to dive down the negativity rabbit hole, I caught myself and kept coming back to,
“Yes, you feel like crap. That’s okay. Sometimes we feel like lousy. End of story. And yes, I have zero energy or enthusiasm for writing right now. That’s okay, too. It happens. Don’t make it worse by beating yourself up about it.”
Primary vs. secondary pain
I’ve written about this several times. Why? Because this primary/secondary pain dynamic is at, or near the top, of the benefits that mindfulness has given me.
What’s the primary/secondary pain thing? To take one of my examples, primary pain would be feeling physically lousy because of the COVID shot. It’s the actual lousy feeling the shot gives me.
The secondary pain would be if I went down that rabbit hole I just mentioned and added to the primary pain. How?
“Damn, I feel terrible. Why didn’t I just get another Moderna shot? I’ll bet I’d feel better. That pharmacist was an idiot for suggesting I do the Pfizer. Now I bet I’ll feel lousy all weekend. Great. The kids will be running around the house all weekend raising hell and I’ll spend the weekend with a pillow over my head. Ugh.”
I avoided all that extra/secondary pain by being mindful about not letting myself go beyond the primary pain of: “Yeah, I feel lousy. And that’s it.”
This literally saved my day
Bottom line: I could have felt a lot worse and done a lot worse today had I not reached into my mindfulness quiver for some helpful arrows.
And I can guarantee you this: If I had gone down the rabbit hole and drove my day into the ditch, there isn’t a chance in hell I would have written this article! I wouldn’t have been able to summon the energy.
A key point to remember is that this isn’t about turning things around so you feel great. If something has you feeling lousy, that probably won’t fully go away so quickly. What it’s about is making you feel less lousy, which is incredibly valuable.
I can’t recommend this strategy highly enough when you’re not feeling great.
Thanks for reading.