Change Yourself…Change The World.

Getting Over The Slump
January 10, 2012, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Paraguay

A close friend and former Peace Corps Volunteer recently emailed this to me:

“So you hit the proverbial wall!  I have been reading your blog.  It happens to everyone in the Peace Corps, I promise.  Yours actually happened at just about the same timing as me.  But it was different for everyone in my class.  One of best friends didn’t hit it until the beginning of year two!  Be happy that it is happening earlier than later.  You will get through it.  I promise.  It sucks, I know.  And when it passes life will be the sweeter because of it.”

The Peace Corps likes to call our integrating into a new culture ‘The Emotional Roller Coaster.’ During integration, we tend to ride on top of the highest of waves, and then drown underneath them. Eventually the wave evens out, but the beginning is usually the hardest. The lowest of the lows I like to call ‘the slump’ period. Since November, I feel that I hit this proverbial wall, or slump, and it didn’t stop until the middle of December, when I went back to the US. After my amazing vacation and  looking at my departure back to Paraguay, recharged and refreshed, I promised myself that things would be better when I arrived back in Paraguay. The ‘slump’ would be over- I would MAKE it over!

And indeed, it seems that the worst is over. Since arriving back to Paraguay, things have been much easier for me, and I have been quite a lot happier. Certainly my fresh perspective after being in the States has helped- but what else has?

Before I went home to the US, I visited a Peace Corps counselor to help me work through my feelings of the death of my two friends, and the frustration I felt in my site. We listed all of the stress-relieving activities I had tried that has worked for me in the past, but in the Peace Corps failed: writing, drawing, cooking, watching movies, listening to music. The counselor gave suggestions for some stress-relieving activities I hadn’t tried: meditation, yoga, exercise. Thinking back on my days in high school when I used to run 6 miles a day, I told her that maybe exercising might help.

“Think about it,” she told me. “Maybe exercising could help release endorphins and make you happier. It could help establish a routine in your community. It will give you more energy. And it would make you feel good about yourself!”

Hence, my New Year’s resolution was to find an exercise routine that I enjoy. Since coming back to Paraguay, I’ve been running every day, and I’m surprised to say it has helped me MONUMENTALLY so far. The counselor was right- the running helps release much-needed endorphins, and I feel great about myself every day. It has helped me establish a routine, which I think is something I felt sorely lacking in my community, since I make my own schedule. And as an added bonus, I no longer feel annoyed about sweating all day in the 100+ degree weather- I put on my exercise clothes and do all the things I want to do in my house that makes me sweat, such as cooking (which makes my kitchen about 20 degrees hotter) or washing the dishes (my sink is outside under the blazing sun)- and then I go running, take a nice cold shower, and eat my pre-cooked dinner feeling nice and clean. Even if I don’t feel the level of productivity I want to in my site, I always go to sleep thinking ‘well, at least I ran today!’

I’m not saying that running is the way for all PCVs to get out of the slump- but if you’re in it, think about something you haven’t tried before that could help relieve stress, and then try it. Perhaps little by little, you’ll feel yourself on a steadier ground and happier place. I’ve only been back in my site for a week (*knock on wood*), but I’ve seen a huge increase in my happiness since starting this stress-relieving activity.

Here’s a little extra PC love for the slump. We can all get through this!

Much love,

1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

nice job on the running. maybe one day we can do a half marathon together!! feeling of accomplishment = off the chart

Comment by hillary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: