Downer day: a day where you feel so low, so depressed, so anxious, so scared, so drained etc. that you can’t leave the house.
I notice it when I wake up, what kind of day it’ll be. When it’s a downer day for me, there’s a lot of fear and that fear blossoms feelings of sadness, sluggishness, and general emotional instability. I hate those days.
From having enough of them in my lifetime, I have come up with a little routine for myself to get through them. If I don’t keep myself occupied, my inner critic takes over which always makes me feel worse and sometimes I end up acting irrationally which always makes me feel instant regret (thus feeding more ammo to my inner critic). I won’t say this will work for everyone, but maybe it’ll help a few of you.
Since my safe space is my bedroom, I mainly stay close to it. I see all the little things I’ve been putting off and think up all the general chores I do to maintain a nice environment. I then choose a tv show or movie that I’ve seen one too many times (so I don’t have to pay my full attention to it) that also makes me feel good (very important). I queue that up and start the routine.
Laundry is the first task, and not just any laundry, but the bedding! The bed is the biggest piece in the room and where I’d rather be curled up in a ball in and so stripping it keeps me on my feet and moving around. I have to take it all out of my room in order to wash it (bonus! I’ve left the room!) and then I’ve got to find something now to fill time until the items need to switch machines (sheets and pillowcases are in one wash, duvet cover in a second wash- aka more time is used up).
Now, I have a second duvet cover so I then put my duvet in that one and spread that across the bed so I can now place things on top of that without getting anything crazy (dust or dirt or what-have-you) on the mattress. Putting all the uncovered pillows and such onto the bed, now the floor is clear to vacuum (or sweep). Then I’ll swiffer for good measure. By now, I’m moving a lot around the room and my mind isn’t overrun with thoughts. I usually will also vacuum/sweep/swiffer the surrounding areas outside of my room as well because I’ve gained momentum and it also helps kill some time before the bedding needs to switch machines (again, I’m spending some more time outside of my room).
Typically by now things in the wash have been switched into the dryer or the first batch is already drying. I’ve worked up a little sweat and now I pause to take in a bit of whatever it is I’ve put on the tv in the background. With the momentum I’ve gained, I think up all the rest of the things I can do. I can clean the bathroom, I can clean the kitchen, I can clean the living room. I’ve got more laundry I can do. I can go through that bag in the closet that has random things in it that I neglect. I can clean out the fridge. I can take out the trash. Is it time to wash my little rug? So many ideas, not a single negative thought!
Once the first batch is dry, I put the sheets on the bed, case the pillows (is that correct?), spread the duvet and now I’ve got a complete bed. I can’t get into it because I’m dirty from all that cleaning and I’m most likely in last nights pajamas still. Nows the time I’ll typically throw all my dirty clothes into the wash since the other duvet cover is in the dryer and I’ve bought myself more time to clean and organize. I finish whatever side chore I’ve chosen- I typically choose multiple things that take up the amount of time it takes to do 2-4 loads of laundry- and move onto the next side chore.
If there’s 2 loads of dirty clothes being laundered, then when the first one dries, I immediately fold, hang up, and put away what’s come out so as to not have wrinkles or have it left out for another day. The last load is in the dryer, I’ve done all the cleaning and organizing that I could fit into the time it took to do all the laundry, and now I can shower and do my skin routine. Once I’ve done that, now I’m in clean clothes and the clothes in the dryer are most likely ready to come out and be put away. Hours have passed, I haven’t had as many negative thoughts (generally) as I would if I had done nothing at all, and possibly the sun is near setting. Now is when I can hop into bed and enjoy my show or another movie in a more relaxed state.
The last and most important part of the downer day routine is the text message I send to my best friend. I list out everything I’ve done (can also be done in your notes app or write them down on paper). Every single task, big and small. It usually is a big paragraph and I’ll read it over multiple times until it truly sinks in that “hey, I did all of these things. I did so much today.” During the day, my mind will slip periodically reminding me that I couldn’t get out of the house and once I’ve completed all the chores, it still always feels like I haven’t done much at all, but when I read that list, I see that that’s not at all true. I filled my downer day with productivity. I’ve set myself up for a wonderful night’s sleep. I’ve got even more clean clothes to wear than I had before the day started. My safe space and the areas outside my room are clean and organized (helps my mind tremendously). I may not have gotten out of the house, but my downer day didn’t defeat me. The way I’ve spent my downer day makes it easier for me to get up and go the next day. Every step is building up for the next day, the week to come, the month ahead. Every step is filled with hope.