Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Taming the dog days of summer
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Ahhh! The dog days of summer! We are in them, full throttle!
The days of August are long, are hot, can zap your energy, can deplete you and can, if given the opportunity, completely derail you. And when you are working hard at your place of work or even if you are working toward an important goal, the dog days of summer can affect your cognitions, your perseverance and your attitude, if left unchecked.
What are the boulders in the way of your journey to success, which already may be affected by the dog days of summer?
- Boredom? I believe that some folks allow boredom to take up residence in their lives without even paying rent! If you are bored, then look inside of YOU … you are allowing it to affect your outlook on life and your emotions, which can be stalled at the first sign of boredom!
- Apathy? This can be a very serious affliction. It can and will affect the “filter” that you view the world through. It shows up as low energy, disinterest, lack of passion and a sense of being stuck in the mud. To combat it? Choose action – every time!
- Lethargy? Laziness, which has been invited into your world and also has taken up residence, is debilitating and can impact energy. To challenge any apathy that you have been dealing with, get into action! The oxymoron is this: Spend energy to gain energy. You will feel better for it!
- Overwhelm/underwhelm? When one is over-extended, s/he tends to eventually shut down. When one is not challenged enough and feels unimportant, it also is easy to shut down. Unfortunately, the tendency is then to avoid, avoid, which only will make the issues facing you more extreme. The antidote? Get into action and make yourself set achievable goals and expectations of self. The healthy middle ground is what to strive for!
- Workaholism? I’ve actually heard folks say that staying in the office is more comfortable than going home to family. After all, aren’t we all trying to get ahead? Well, no. Wealth and material things only fuel more and more workaholism, which in turn, affects home life, marriage and children. Balance is the key; then the tremendous effort one gives to the workplace will feel even better when one goes home and enjoys the treasures there as well!
- Paralysis? Whether it’s the long, hot days or your own sense of overwhelm, you easily can become paralyzed. The result? No action – which only cycles over and over until you begin to feel even more paralyzed – all of which makes the “start button” hard to activate!
Sometimes you just must dig in and tackle those barriers! What are some tools that will help you get out of the doldrums of these very hot days and those boulders that are sitting in the middle of the road on your way to action and success? Let’s take a peek:
- Attitude! Sometimes it’s just a matter of adjusting our attitudes. Remember the old adage: Life is not just about what happens to me, it’s 90% how I MANAGE what happens to me. An attitude adjustment can turn anything around and make it conquerable, manageable and achievable!
- Belief! If I believe something is worthy, is important, is reachable and is vital, then half the battle is won! With effort and with intention, anyone can turn a belief into an action! Defeat the “yeah, buts” and do away with excuses!
- Fuel! Take all that energy, that stored-up intention, and go for it! Sometimes we just have to dig in, “buckle our chin straps,” and drive toward our goals! What creates the fuel we need for an edge? Adequate sleep, good nutritional sustenance, hydration and self-belief! That ALWAYS will defeat the negative excuses, the laziness, the dog days of stifling heat and the stuck-ness!
- GRIT/GUTS! Sometimes it’s just good ol’ persistence and pluck – self-talk and self-belief that just says, “I know you’re weary, sweaty, bored and lethargic, but SO WHAT?” When desire, attitude and spunk outweigh the excuses, the sky is the limit!
So what IF the “dog days of summer,” the doldrums, any bored-apathetic-lazy attitude, or wimpy, negative, stoic posturing exists – step up and step out! You have the tools, the moxie and the spunk to overcome! These days will pass and cooler, more refreshing weather will arrive – but we don’t have to wait, because we will NOT let the dog days of summer dog us into listlessness!