And then it happened. A two day slump was gone. I felt lighter and brighter and suddenly the air around me lifted and seemed soft and fresh and was no longer oppressive. My fog had passed.
I have spent the past couple of days in an entirely new environment meeting new people and doing new things. I’ve found it all a bit overwhelming. But this evening I sat down and opened my laptop and re-engaged with an old piece of work – something familiar and do-able.
It made me think. When we take on a new piece of work or a creative project sometimes it can be too much, too new, a little out of our reach. It’s easy to feel like you’re sinking when you can’t seem to stretch to the demands of a task. I’ve found somewhat of a solution to that horrible feeling. Do something that doesn’t stretch you or at least do something that doesn’t stretch you beyond your limits.
It’s all basic psychology really but all too often we forget the basic things and put ourselves under undue pressure and unrealistic expectations. To feel happy we need to be challenged but we also need a certain sense of mastery over the tasks we are doing. Getting that balance is really important. Vygotsky calls it the zone of proximal development. Basically he’s talking about that feeling you get when you are capable and competent and able to do the task but also feeling a little bit challenged and stretched. Too much challenge and being stretched well beyond your capabilities is negative and stressful but when you get it right, it’s the best place to be.
So the lesson in all this? When you’re feeling like a creative project or any new work is too much for you and it gets you down. Switch into doing something you are good at. It will help you get into that good zone again and give you a boost to keep going with the hard stuff.