If you’re feeling a bit “bleh” I hear you.
Is the thought of Monday morning making you feel tired even before you’ve got out of bed?
Would you like to feel perkier, but your first coffee isn’t anywhere near hitting the mark?
Were you thinking you’d been managing lockdown and the whole Covid thing well, but now you’ve realised you’re not?
Is “bleh” upsetting your relationships, reducing your work performance, or stopping you from enjoying yourself?
If so, it’s time to do something different before that “bleh” develops into something worse, like self-pity, low mood, or sadness.
“Bleh” is frequently insidious. You thought you’re OK and then you realise you’re feeling totally shite, for no obvious reason except there’s been little to look forward to recently. The news is always negative and repetitive. Your work is feeling lacklustre, the fire in your belly is dwindling and you’re wondering whether this could be a good time to call it quits and move on, to do something else. Except you’ve got no idea what that might be.
“Bleh” is an indication you’re not flourishing.
It’s a signal telling you that something’s not right.
Feeling “bleh” does not indicate you have a mental illness, but languishing like this does mean you could be at higher risk of that in the future.
Overcoming “bleh” requires you to dig deep into your mental wellbeing toolbox. The more tools you have accessible, the quicker your recovery from “blehdom”.
There are many things that can lead to “bleh” including exhaustion from overwork and having too many things on your never-ending to-do list.
It could be due to a run of bad luck.
It might be your best customer just pulled the pin, or your closest work colleague has left to start a new job on the other side of the country, or your special relationship with the person you believed you were destined to spend the rest of your life with isn’t working out.
You might be feeling entitled to wallowing in a bit of “bleh” time.
And that’s OK. All our emotions are valid and feeling “bleh” is providing you vital information.
The risk though is that spending too much time in “bleh” can lead to a problematic downward spiral that’s hard to get out of. It can suck you down faster than quicksand.
So, if you have too much “bleh” going on, what are you going to do about it?
There is no ONE solution, rather it’s often a combination of those activities you’ve discovered from past experiences that cheer you up and make you feel better. None are right or wrong. This is about what works for you. It could be any, all or none of the suggestions below.
1. Tap into what’s contributing to your “blehness.” It may be something obvious, or you may have to look further within. Then, it’s about determining whether you have any control over the contributing causes. If not, it’s time to open up to the next level of wellbeing items. If you can influence what’s happening, how will you dial down the impact?
2. If you’ve been working too hard for too long. It could be time to book that vacation – even if it’s a staycation. We all feel better when we get sufficient downtime from work.
3. Check your sleep. Are you getting enough, good quality sleep? Duration and quality are vital in the sleep department. Just because you’re spending 8 hours a night in bed doesn’t mean you’re sleeping for long enough, or well. Trying to play catch up on the weekends doesn’t work either. If insomnia has hit, it’s time to review your sleep hygiene habits. You know, things like having a consistent going to bed and waking up time, avoiding sleep poisons such as caffeine, smoking and alcohol, keeping your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable and only used for sleep and sex. It’s about checking if you’re sufficiently active across the day and following a pre-bed routine of dimming the house lights, switching off from all technology at least an hour before bed and choosing to relax. Who knew there was so much needed to help you sleep better?
4. Are you a prisoner of your environment? It’s estimated that Americans spend an average of 95% of their day indoors. Australians may not be far behind. How much time do you get outside each day? It’s been revealed that we need a minimum of 2 hours a week outside for our mental wellbeing. More is better. If you know you feel better for getting out for a walk around the block or a jog in the park, go do. Now. Even 20 minutes outside will help to alleviate stress and boost your mood. So, what are you waiting for?
5. Have a laugh. Go on, I dare you! “Meh” and “bleh” can make you pretty dull and uninteresting to be around. Sorry if this sounds harsh. You’ll be far more attractive to others when you’re wearing your warmest, brightest (and authentic!) smile, able to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation or respond to a friend’s lame joke. Having a fit of the giggles is a fantastic workout for a positive mind. It can work wonders. If all else fails try tuning in to your favourite comedy show – and no, it’s not the Six o’clock news. Try Michael McIntyre, Steve Martin, Ricky Gervais or Amy Schumer or get out those old photos of you aged six.
6. Do something just for fun. If fun has been AWOL for a while, don’t worry, you’ll find it again once you’ve signed the self-permission slip to get out and do fun things. Even if they don’t feel fun at first, but you know it used to be something you enjoyed, chances are you’re just out of practice. Fun can look like dancing, singing, painting, cooking. You name it, it can be fun if you choose.
7. Spend time with someone or others you like and who lift you up. You know who these people are. These are your friends, your family, your significant other. Spending time in the company of others can have a profound positive impact on your mental wellbeing. So, even if you’d rather stay in and practice being “bleh” on your own, now is a great time to reach out and suggest a meet-up, coffee or a snuggle and a hug with your kids or partner. You’ll both benefit and you might help lift them out of “blehdome” too.
8. Do something for someone else. Stop and chat with a homeless person, donate your time to a charity shop or volunteer to join a community project. Helping others is a really fast way to feel better about yourself. It’s not about seeking accolades or reciprocity, just responding to need in a positive way.
9. Be grateful for what you have and what you have already achieved. It’s easy when feeling “bleh” for all that negative self-talk to convince you that you’re hopeless, unworthy or unloveable. STOP! That horrible negative inner chatter is unhelpful at best and honestly, not true. It might feel hard but think about those times when things went well for you, when you reached an important goal and remind yourself of the good times shared with family or friends.
10. Remember all feelings are temporary. This feeling of “blehness” will eventually pass. When it does, give thanks, pat yourself on the back and enjoy all the other feelings that contribute to your full life experience.
What do you do to get rid of the “bleh” in your life?
Do you have a ritual or series of things you do that helps?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is now available for purchase
If psychological safety, resilience and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.