I was feeling slightly off this week, but yesterday was the worst. I wasn’t having a bad day (or bad week). Nobody died, nothing broke, and nobody woke up late.
Off days are just those days when your mind sorta takes over most of your thoughts and starts making you question all kinds of things. You question the type of parent or wife you’ve become. You rethink your career choices. You begin to self-doubt little decisions, such as a project you’re working on or the color you picked out for your kitchen. You wonder if you’re really making the wisest money choices. Everything in your life, or maybe just parts of it, start to come to question and you begin to feel lost and misguided.
I think, because I’m a mother, this happens to me probably more frequently. Mothers carry the burdens and responsibilities that others may not and because we have what feels like more important choices and decisions to make, we experience many off days throughout motherhood. We worry about doing right by our kids and we don’t want to let them down, and that added pressure can feel overwhelming at times.
However, over time, I’ve learned to embrace my off days. I’ve realized that in the aftermath of those days I end up having breakthrough moments and feel a new sense of purpose.
It’s my belief that those days are days when God is trying his loudest to speak to me and I’ve developed a system for listening and receiving his message.
But I am no exception.
I know that He reaches out to all of us, especially during those off days. The trick is to understand that He is trying to get a message across and to do all that you can do to make sure His message comes through loud and clear.
Here are a few steps that you can take to bounce back from feeling lost or misguided by off days:
Step 1: Get out of your head
I know this is going to sound weird to some, during days when I feel a shift happening and know that I need to hear an important message, the first thing that I have to do is try to get out of my own head.
What do I mean by that?
Well, the way I see it is this: if God is trying to redirect me in some way, I probably should take a back seat. During times when our mind starts to wonder about everything, we also tend to come up with our own solutions. Instead of allowing myself to do that, I purposely turn off the planner in me.
Trust me, if you have a planner in you, too, this exercise won’t be easy.
I love to plan for things – plan for the future, plan for the unthinkable. As soon as I know that something is going to happen, I start planning.
However, when I have off days, I don’t know what the end result will be yet. I don’t know yet because I don’t know what message God is trying to give me. Until I get clarity and direction, I have to stop myself from trying to solve the problem.
Off days are just that. Off days. Something isn’t quite right. You can’t put a finger on it.
How can you solve a problem that you can’t put your finger on?
You must get out of your head and free up your mind so that you can eventually find out.
Step 2: Take a break (or a nap)
Okay, so that we are all on the same page, I want to be clear about something: off days don’t necessarily last for a long period of time. In my experience, my off days have gotten shorter in duration because of the techniques I’ve developed to speed up the process of receiving God’s message. Therefore, off days could be as short as off hours.
Which brings me to the second step: taking a break.
To get all sciency, when our brain is desperately working at solving a problem, it sometimes cannot until it has walked away from problem solving. One way that your brain “walks away” is during sleep. While you rest, your subconscious mind continues to work on the solution.
In my opinion, the reason taking a break from your normal day or taking a nap helps is this: our modern life can be so distracting and full of noise. If you are a church goer, you have no doubt been taught that it is very important to include quiet time in prayer in your life. The church tells us that quiet time allows us to reconnect with God so that we can receive His messages and do His will.
When I have off days and feel really sleepy, but I still have lots of housework left to finish, I take a nap.
Yes, I opt for the nap. (Although yesterday, I took a break and painted a little instead.)
I believe that feeling unmotivated and lost and misguided means I need to take a break and rest so that the solution can more quickly come. I don’t allow myself to push through those feelings because I like to use my feelings as indicators of how well I’m following the path God has put me on. It’s no different from following my instincts. If something feels off when I’m thinking about life decisions, I don’t force myself to make a decision or change. I like to allow the decision to unfold and come to me when I’m clear-headed enough to receive the message so that I know which change is best to make. And the sooner I give my mind rest, the closer I’ll be to getting my answer.
Sometimes, after my break or nap, I’ll have an epiphany and God’s message comes through. Other times, more steps must be taken.
Step 3: Write your thoughts down.
I’ve been writing since forever.
I’m not sure if I consciously knew it or not when I was younger, but, nowadays, I find myself turning to my journal only when I feel like writing my thoughts is going to help me sort everything out.
And most of the time, it does – like last night.
I suddenly felt the need to write my thoughts down in my journal and I had a feeling that once I did, I’d find the direction I’d been seeking all day. Halfway through writing, I swear it felt like someone else was writing and telling me what to do and I was overcome with excitement. I immediately felt my day turn around – like a ship captain sailing in the middle of a treacherous storm only to suddenly feel the waves calm down.
Sometimes writing in my journal before bed, like I did last night, doesn’t immediately open the lines of communication with God, but the best thing about journaling before bed is being able to sleep afterward.
Step 4: Sleep on it and/or pray about it.
Hopefully, journaling your thoughts before bed helped you figure out a little bit more about why you’re feeling off. However, writing it down doesn’t always provide a solution. Sleeping after journaling allows your brain to think more clearly about what you’ve written and will hopefully provide some guidance in the morning.
You can always pray about your situation, asking God to help guide you in the right direction, but it’s up to you if you want to pray or not. If you’ve already written it all down, you’ve technically already said some things that you want to happen, so speaking the words out loud may or may not be necessary. But, it couldn’t hurt. If you feel comfortable enough or already have a good habit of praying, praying out loud (or in your head) about it will help tremendously.
For me, praying allows me to feel more emotion behind what I’m praying about and I think that vulnerability from the emotion creates a more open relationship with God. It’s just an added way I like to connect with Him. It’s also a way for me to show that I trust Him.
My off days don’t feel so bad anymore because I know that they hold purpose. In other words, I view off days the same as I view my cell phone. My cell phone is a tool that allows me to communicate with friends and family (and sometimes unsolicited callers). When the phone rings, I hear it ringing, but until I answer the call, I won’t hear the message coming from the other end.
Off days are like when the phone rings.
I know its ringing and that God is on the other end, but until I answer the call, God can’t speak to me.
If I try to ignore the call, the ringing doesn’t stop. It might for a second (God doesn’t want to leave a voicemail), but He always calls back.
Figuring out the best way to answer His call can feel like a hit and miss, but overtime, you’ll get better and better about it. Hopefully, the above steps will help you overcome your off days so that you can return to your normal motherly duties. If so, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!