Do you feel like someone or something has completely knocked all of the wind out of your sails?

You aren’t alone! In early 2020 depression had impacted over 27% of adults in the US. Pre-pandemic, that number was around 8%. Now, in an article published October 7, 2021, Boston University School of Public Health has research showing that depression in American adults is almost at 33%.

Feeling down and defeated is definitely much more common than it used to be. So, in all seriousness – if you’re feeling like this and you can’t shake it – talk about it openly about it. If nothing else, start with the people closest to you, family and/or friends. If that’s not helping, then seek professional help – please! This is not something to ignore or downplay, it is at the very least, your health and well-being that we’re talking about. You are unique, valuable, and not replaceable.  Definitely do NOT let someone try and tell you that everything can be fixed with plenty of fresh air and sunshine!

If you’re really depressed, it’s serious and can affect any or every part of your life.  I’ll say it again – if you’re depressed and you’re not getting better – GET HELP!  I feel totally comfortable saying this to you – because I was (depressed) and I did (talk about it and seek help)! 

* Oh – and guess what else… I’m still getting help and working on it!!!

Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI Or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a licensed or certified counselor or therapist. None of what I share is intended to take the place of medical or counseling services.  I am sharing anecdotal examples and insights from my own life intended to be useful in helping you improve aspects of yours. Nothing more.  

That said; let’s talk about how looking at things a bit differently may put some positive momentum back into your game!

Really… I do get it. It can be a real chore sometimes to keep a positive and upbeat outlook. Even when things are going well, it’s possible to get run-down and burned out – and that’s OK. It happens. It happens to pretty much everyone, which means that almost anyone could find themselves stuck in a cycle of trying to get back up and then feeling like they’ve been knocked back down again. Moreover, when the whole world seems like it’s struggling – it is super-easy to see only the negative things. I mean things like… “business is in a slump – how do I recover?” or “I’m so burned out from everything changing so much!” or “supply chains will never get back to normal!”  It can feel like there’s a beach bully who just tripped you and kicked sand in your face.  It can feel that way… sometimes even look that way at a casual glance. But maybe… maybe it’s not as bad as it seems. This might be a perfect time to step back, take a really deep breath, and just let the moment be whatever it’s going to be.

What I mean – is that at times like these it’s ok to take a breather, to slow down a little, and really think about plans, goals, and how you can use the moment to recharge. Consider these sad-looking kites – all covered with sand and grounded. It’s entirely possible that at a glance you might think “wow – that’s a real bummer – there’s no wind, and the kites are covered in sand… why don’t they just pack it all up and go home? Here’s the thing – when you get burned out, pretty much anything that you try doing is most likely going to feel hopeless or pointless.

Yeah – the kites are ok as an analogy – a metaphor if you will – but what’s that really got to do with anything about taking a break?  Get this – I do this to my kites! (Yeah… that’s actually my own set of kites…) I do this from time to time, because sometimes the wind dies off and isn’t really steady and it’s about to die down. Even more importantly, I’ve known that this is what was happening for like the last 45 minutes, but I’ve been fighting to keep the kites up and flying. I’ll run backwards to try and keep them in the air until a gust comes along and lifts them high again. And I’ll inch back to where I was flying so that I’m not a mile or two down the beach.

But it’s frequently a losing battle. And I know it! I know (after years of hitting the beach and flying stunt kites) when the wind is gonna just flat-out quit on me.  It’s never sudden either… it always seems to just sorta slooowwwly get weaker and weaker, with the occasional gust to give you just enough hope to make you employ heroics to try and “keep things flying high”!  Yeah – in something like 40 years of flying these things – there’s only been like 3 times when the wind actually picked back up after starting to die… and one of those times was because a storm was moving in!

But… occasionally… after impulsive, yet ridiculously stubborn me is just whooped, defeated, and finally ready to admit what I didn’t want to admit, rational me gets to take a look out of the window and size-up the situation, and often that’s moment of real clarity. For my kite fixation, that moment of clarity was when I realized that when the wind dies and it’s close to sunset – there’s not much point in getting my hopes up to fly kites again until the next day.  However, if I’m flying in the morning and the wind starts to go away… it’s very common for it to pick back up, but it may not be until later in the day.

So instead of running and trying to keep things flying – I land the kites, roll up the tails and wind up the kite lines so they’re not a nuisance or hazard – and cover the leading edges of the kites in sand so that an occasional gust won’t blow them away… and I go enjoy the beach or the ocean… I take a break and I don’t think about the kites or how badly I want to be flying them, and I just enjoy the moment.

Then when “later” rolls around – if I notice that the wind has picked up again and seems steady – it’s super-easy to just put the kite lines back out and take right off again! Of course, sometimes the wind doesn’t pick back up… and that’s ok too. I just pack up the kites and bring them out again the next day. That approach, in part, is why I’m still flying the kites.  Before – when I tried to fight against the reality that the wind was going away – it was mentally and physically exhausting. I’d get so frustrated by the little teasing gusts, and wiped out from all the backward sprinting – that I’d cram everything back into the kite bag and stomp off the beach… and leave the kites in my room for most of the rest of the vacation. But when I stopped trying to force an activity that simply did not have any of the conditions necessary for success, two very important things happened. First, I eliminated most of the frustration and recaptured my enjoyment of flying stunt kites, and second, I was able to rediscover how to just enjoy playing in the sand and surf at the beach again.

<<< The neverending cycle … rest & breakthrough … rest & breakthrough

Soooo… why bother with all of this long runaround story? Simply put – anyone can get burned out doing anything. And right now, especially right now… a whole lot of folks are getting burned out, worn down, and just plain fed up. It tends to be a real buzzkill, especially when you rely of your sense of passion or excitement about doing something in order to produce your best efforts.  Believe me I’ve gone through this particular wringer with more than just my kite hobby – I just don’t have pictures of most of those other times!

Try this – when and if you can… step as far back away from whatever it is that has you feeling “out of gas”. Do it deliberately, and make sure that in addition to distancing yourself physically/emotionally… you also allow enough time to start to feel recovered. I know it isn’t possible in all cases, but to the extent, you can – try it. Also, another lesson hidden in here – is don’t stress out over things you have absolutely zero control over. Plan for success – always – have your gear or whatever you need so if the conditions are right – you can just do the thing you love. But there’s a subtle bit of gaming you can do inside your own head to just enjoy the moment and immerse yourself in the here and now. It’s surprising how much a tiny bit of self-talk can change your whole attitude – and it goes both ways.

Disappointed? You can take that straight to miserable just by dwelling on how bummed you are. However, you take the opposite approach… “you know, I can’t fly kites today, but it sure is a nice day to go play in the surf…”. This is key to getting the most out of your experiences. This can potentially be a benefit at work, at home with family, or even in your recreation time. Anything that has you feeling burned out is usually not going to get better or yield great results if you stay burned out and just try to hammer through it!

As I said – it’s one aspect of a healthy approach to beating feeling down or “out of gas”, but it’s not counseling, therapy, or treatment for serious depression or other related conditions.  By all means, try it out and see if it helps. But don’t hesitate to get professional help if things just don’t seem to be getting better, and don’t let someone tell you that “all you need is some fresh air and sunshine” if you know that doesn’t help. I don’t have all the answers – and I won’t pretend to. But things that I’ve actually lived through and experienced… I’ll do my best to share and explain what I’ve come to understand through the experience. It’s not to try and tell you how to think about something – or how you should approach it, but more to give you a few alternatives and maybe some fresh thoughts on the subject!