Coping with Slump Periods
“ALWAYS happy, always happy, every day the sun is shining.” Thus began an old folk song. But is this really the case? In most lands there are cloudy days, rainy days, overcast, wintry days, days when the sun does not appear all day long.
And so with all of us on life’s journey. Not every day is a happy, joyous and pleasant one. There are times when we seem to be in a slump, days when nothing seems to go right, days when we are unable to apply ourselves, when we seem to be making a lot of mistakes for apparently no reason at all. Particularly are those who do “creative” work faced with slump periods at times. What is the cause?
It could be something as simple as the weather. Dreary days do have a way of affecting our feelings. Or it may be of a psychosomatic nature. Has someone disappointed or offended you? You might be unconsciously grieving over it. Has your work had too much pressure or tension associated with it, or has it involved too many hours? Have you indulged too freely in food or drink, or kept late hours? The depressed feeling could be due to too much work or too much pleasure.
On the other hand, it could be a case of body chemistry. This causes ever so many women to have slump periods each month. Research has shown that women have twice the average number of accidents on their ‘difficult’ days. At one women’s prison it was found that 60 percent of violent unpremeditated crimes were committed by them during their ‘difficult’ days. Illness from this problem is said to cost United States industry some $5,000,000,000 annually.
Whatever the cause of your slump periods, be realistic by accepting the fact and adjust accordingly. Of course, what you can do in the way of adjustment depends a great deal on your circumstances. If you are self-employed, or are a housewife or happen to have a variety of tasks to perform, then it may well be that during your slump period you can choose tasks that are less trying. If as a housewife you find that doing the family wash seems just too trying, then keep busy doing some other necessary things that do not present such a challenge, even though they may not line up with your schedule. Monday need not always be washday!
The same is true of you menfolk. Knowing that you are not at your best during a slump period, why not do something that requires less strength, concentration or skill—if it is possible to choose?
But if you are working on an assembly line, or as a private secretary, or at some job that ties you down to a strict routine or schedule, then you may simply have to “grin and bear it.” Yet, you could make it easier by your mental attitude. Instead of yielding to the tendency to think negatively, try to think positively. Discipline your thinking and give yourself strong reasons for the need of applying yourself in spite of a slump.
Thinking positively is what the Bible counsels us to do at Philippians 4:8: “Whatever things are true, . . . whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” Interestingly, the context of those inspired words counsels us, “Do not be anxious over anything.”—Phil. 4:6.
What will aid you to think positively and keep your head up in spite of a slump? One thing that will aid you is reading the Bible, God’s Word. There are many of the psalms from which you can derive comfort, such as 23, 34, 37, 55 and 103. And then there are the Gospels, telling of the life and sayings of Jesus, especially such words of his as are found at Matthew 11:28-30.
If you and your friends have telephones, or access to them, just a friendly call can do much to help you to get out of a slump period. Call to inquire how a friend is, think of something interesting to tell such a one and you will find yourself being refreshed while you are refreshing the other person. (Prov. 11:25) Then, again, if you can play a musical instrument, or have a record player or a tape recorder or a radio, tune in or play something cheerful, or something soothing, something upbuilding by its sheer beauty. Remember, music has helped those suffering from mental illness and even children who seemed hopelessly retarded. It can be medicine for the soul trying to cope with a slump period.—1 Sam. 16:14-17, 23.
Another aid in coping with slump periods is to remind oneself of the virtue of contentment. Few if any followers of Jesus Christ had a wider variety of both pleasant and distressful experiences than did the apostle Paul, and yet through it all he was able to say: “I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be self-sufficient,” that is, content. Counting the blessings you have, trying to be reasonable and realizing that the sun does not shine every day, will help you to cope with your slump periods.—Phil. 4:11; 2 Cor. 11:22-33.
And still another great aid is hope. The Bible speaks highly of hope. It links it with faith and love, two of the greatest of virtues. (1 Cor. 13:13) It serves as an anchor to the soul, a helmet of protection for the mind. As has been said of other matters, so with a slump, remember that “this too will pass.” While the sun does not shine every day, neither does it fail to shine indefinitely. So keep looking forward to something better.—1 Thess. 5:8; Heb. 6:19.
Of course, a great help when one is having a slump period is consideration on the part of those close to you. You will be most likely to receive this if you are considerate of others when they have a slump period. If you notice such a thing, then show empathy and fellow feeling. Be tactful, considerate, sympathetic and make allowances for their irritability or moodiness. By sowing such seed you will quite likely reap a crop of the same when you yourself are coping with a slump period.