Have you ever lived beside the construction site of a major highway interchange? The noise is incredible. The banging and crashing outside my window was like a thousand nails scratching down a chalkboard. “Beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep.” Trucks going in reverse can go fuck themselves.
I’d been staring at a blank computer screen for a week. Or was it two weeks? I was frustrated with my business. I had no inspiration to write, create, build. Hell, what was the point?
I had a cold. Who gets a cold in summer? Not that summer had arrived in Montreal, anyway. The weather was shit. I coughed, groaned, and walked to the bathroom to spit green sludge into the sink.
Already July. I looked into the mirror and it hit me: it had been exactly one year since the toughest breakup of my life. I felt a heaviness settle on my chest and a lump gather in my throat.
First world problems, right?
I was stuck in a rut. In a funk. Case of the blues.
But fast forward one week and my blues aren’t just gone, I’m on Cloud 9. I feel light and peaceful. I strut slowly through the streets with a painted-on smile, eating bags of 5¢ watermelon candies and saying “Hello” to strangers. I’ve got exciting ideas for my business. I’m inspired to write again. I feel regenerated.
Do you want to know my cure?
Here it is…
1. Get Your Heart Beating, Baby
I went on a bicycle and camping trip. I carried my tent, food, and supplies on the back of my bike. I pedalled over 400 kilometres through the Quebec countryside for five days. On my “off day” I hiked 17 kilometres through a national park.
I was physically active 7-8 hours per day for five days—and it felt amazing. I was sweating, breathing hard, and pushing the capabilities of my body.
Last year when I wrote about my breakup, I said that physical pain is a good replacement for emotional pain.
I still believe it.
2. Be Alone
When we have the blues, sometimes there’s a tendency to go out and surround ourselves with people. We hang out with friends, visit family, go to the bar—anything to distract our attention away from the tough feelings that are flowing through us.
But avoiding and suppressing negative feelings isn’t a cure; it’s a bandaid, at best.
The only way to cure the blues properly is to spend time alone.
When I was out on the open road, just me and my bicycle, I felt free, peaceful, and confident. I had the space to think and reflect. Dare I say, I was empowered.
3. Get Into Nature
I rode my bicycle to La Mauricie National Park. The Park covers over 500 square kilometres and contains thick boreal forests, lakes, ponds, rivers, and wild animals.
I cooked my meals and ate outside. As the sun went down, I lit a fire and stared at the burning embers for hours. The forest smelled fresh, clean. I breathed in the sweetness of birch bark crackling in the fire. I slept in my tent and fell asleep to the sounds of wind ruffling through the trees and frogs croaking in the distance.
I wasn’t in the city anymore.
Being able to hear myself think without the banging, crashing, beeping, screaming, and rattling of the city felt good.
Being out in nature is calming. Almost spiritual, I suppose.
Whatever it is, getting into nature is a surefire way of helping cure the blues.
4. Turn Off Technology
For the most part, my phone was turned off for five days. Do you remember the last time your phone was off, even just for an hour?
Technology has become our crutch. When we feel lonely or bored we can open Facebook, Instagram, news apps, email, or just surf the web to our heart’s content.
But technology is just another distraction when you have the blues. A way of avoiding our pain instead of dealing with it.
You got the blues? Turn off technology for a while and see what happens.
5. Challenge Yourself
This trip was my first time loading up my bicycle with camping gear, food, and water and hitting the open road. I’ve never been on a bicycle tour before and it was a big, personal challenge.
Does that mean if you have the blues you have to go on a five day cycling trip?
Everyone has their own limits. Find yours and then go hangout there.
Your strength and confidence will build. You’ll realize that you’re capable of more than you thought possible. After that, other challenges in life don’t seem so bad.
Challenging yourself means doing something that scares you and makes you uncomfortable. If there isn’t an element of fear and discomfort, you’re doing it wrong.
Challenge the limits of your comfort zone. I guarantee it’ll help those blues go away.
How Can You Follow this 5-Step Method?
Remember, the activity you choose doesn’t have to last five days. Go out for a day. Take off in the morning, return at night, and see how differently you feel.
Here’s a list of possibilities. They are all ways you can incorporate the five steps I’ve described above into one neat, little package. (If you can think of others, let me know in the Comments section below!)
- Jogging (outside the city)
- Stand-up paddle boarding
- Trail running
- Hunting (I hesitate to add this, but after my friend Tyler told me about staring into the eyes of a 1,000 pound moose through the cross hairs of a gun, I know hunting can get your heart pounding!)
- Fishing (Tyler also reeled in a 500 pound marlin. so I know fishing can get your heart pounding, too!)
- Snowshoeing (although Canadian winters are NOT my favourite time to be outdoors, I’ll make one exception for my sister!)
What’s that you’re thinking? You’re not an “outdoorsy” person? You think you’re not in strong enough physical shape? You don’t have time?
Excuses, excuses, excuses.
I promise it’s worth it. Find an activity that gets your heart beating, puts you alone in nature without technology, and challenges your comfort zone.
If you do that, you won’t just cure your blues—you’ll also be ready for the curveballs life will inevitably throw your way.