January 8, 2009

Wallowing

One school of thought teaches that if you're feeling blue, you should be especially careful to exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Comfort should come from nutrition and endorphins and healthy inner emotional healing, and also from the support of good friends. Need to ramp it up a little? Try meditation. Or therapy.

I prefer the "wallowing" method. I will tell you how it's done. There are four basic components: Eating, Shopping, Diversions, and Brooding.


1. Eating

A. Caffeine things and sugar things and fat things. For maximum impact, take together. One of the nice things about normally taking your coffee with skim milk and Splenda is that in these sad times you can upgrade to heavy whipping cream and tons of sweetened flavored creamer. Wheeeee!



B. Supplements that let you feel like you're Taking Medicine---and may also incidentally help with mood and energy. I like fish oil, acidophilus, cod liver oil, iron, B-complex, vitamin C, flax seed oil, calcium with vitamin D, valerian root----er, not all at once, though taking a nice assortment each day gives me the happy feeling of being an Invalid. (I first checked with my doctor AND pharmacist, OF COURSE, and wouldn't advise taking supplements unless you first check with your own health care provider, especially if you actually ARE taking medicine.)



C. Salt things and fat things. For maximum impact, take together. It doesn't have to be Cheetos and Sour Cream & Onion Pringles---you could also do Doritos and cashews, or Chex Mix and Ruffles, or whatever is best for YOU. Customize your wallow.




2. Shopping


A. Unnecessities. If financially possible, buy yourself some little things you don't really need. I focus on COMFORT and FUN. I find hair color particularly good, since the "Who cares?" attitude that accompanies a blue mood helps me get over the fear/change hurdle. I also bought a fleece throw blanket to snuggle in.



B. Fun versions of normally-purchased items. I find scented things particularly helpful. Vanilla-lavender (shown in the previous picture) is supposed to be soothing, and I do find it soothing. I have the shampoo, the conditioner, the body wash, and the lotion, and when things are grim I use them ALL. I probably have a visible lavender cloud around me. (Not recommended for situations where other people have to breathe your aura.) Grapefruit is supposed to be mood-lifting and energizing, and I find it so, and also find it thirst-producing. I hate Target's Method grapefruit stuff, but I love the Softsoap kind.


C. Inexpensive fun-but-useful stuff. I bought a whole bunch of 75%-off ornaments and cards and ribbon and gift tags. I spent a long time dithering pleasantly over choices. They cost money, but not MUCH money. And they're not really "necessary," but we WILL use them. I also bought a bunch of clothes for the kids on various season-end clearance sales, for next year, and a few things for right now. It improves my mood to have something new to put on a baby in the morning.



D. Totally boring necessities in large quantities. If the sensation of "putting things in a cart and paying for them" is comforting, but the sensation of "worrying later about the cost" is NOT, I buy things we DO need but not yet. This gives me some of the satisfaction of shopping, but without spending money I'll wish I hadn't spent. Plus, I find the "stocking up" feeling comforting. I especially enjoy buying pretty postage stamps, and brown sugar, and toilet paper.



Non-perishables we didn't need yet but will eventually use.




3. Diversions


A. When I'm wallowing, I like to choose a task that has the appeal of Symbolic Melodrama---but is also genuinely useful to have done. My task right now is going through the boxes and boxes and BOXES of stored baby clothes, getting rid of the ones we no longer need for anyone (anything youngest-boy Henry has outgrown; anything only-girl Elizabeth has outgrown). I've found this an excellent opportunity to brood and wallow in self-pity. The girl clothes are going to my soon-due niece, which is very satisfying. I don't suppose anyone would be interested in boy handmedowns?



B. Spending time with a diverting hobby. Blogging, for example. Or painting, or reading, or baking, or whatever. Baking is good, if you like baking, because it provides you with an additional source of fat and sugar for the Eating component, and also makes the house smell nice as mentioned in the Shopping section. Plus, you can shop for the supplies.

C. Planning fun things to look forward to. I'm looking forward to my niece; I didn't PLAN her but certainly she is one of the most exciting things I have ever looked forward to in my WHOLE LIFE. Plus, I can also put her in the Shopping category, because buying small pink clothes is one of the best soothing balms I know of. I'm also planning a Swistle Love care package giveaway for Valentine's Day, because I love sending care packages and also it lets me shop. And I'm fantasizing about when the kids are older and Paul and I can dump them all in my parents' basement and go on a trip to the town in Washington where we got married and had our first baby.

D. Movies and TV and books. Careful with this one: there's a fine line to....hoe. Tread. Whatever. You want to nurse the wallow here, so you don't want to accidentally get anything too feel-good that makes the world look like a good place again (Nanny McPhee, My Fair Lady). On the other hand, you don't want to nurse the wallow right over the edge into actual mental illness, so let's not get anything where a dog dies or where the filmmaker's goal is to reveal the dark underbelly of the human condition. Some good movie choices: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Singles, When Harry Met Sally. Some good TV choices: Friends, Sports Night, Gilmore Girls. Some good book choices: Firefly Summer or Light a Penny Candle, both by Maeve Binchy---or really just about anything by Maeve Binchy; the PostSecret books; Suzanne Finnamore books; Elizabeth Berg books, although not the recent "other time period" ones she's been writing; the Found books/magazines. What we're looking for here is light but moody---humor and broody in the right proportions.

E. New fun things. The aforementioned hair-coloring would be a good idea. Or if you haven't tried Postcrossing, a wallow is the perfect time for it: it lets you look forward to mail delivery each day, and also you can shop for postcards and pretty stamps.



4. Brooding

A. I like to spend some time sitting in a rocker-recliner, wrapped pitifully in a throw blanket and gazing into nowhere, thinking of all the things that Won't Be. Allow a few thoughts to sucker-punch you---but not too many, we're going for a good balance here. Wallowing, maybe a teeny bit of weeping, but not descending into genuine despair.

B. I don't know if this is the same for you, but if someone else tells me I shouldn't be sad because other people have it worse, I feel like doing some bitch-slapping and/or sarcastic air quoting. Or perhaps hooking one leg around the backs of their legs and giving them a swift shove. "Oh, I SHOULDN'T feel bad?," I'd say, making heavy air quotes around the "shouldn't." "How very helpful!! You're absolutely right! I'm magically cured!! Shouldn't = doesn't!" Then I'd do a little bitch-slapping.

Or, "Oh, other people have it WORSE? So I'm sure YOU have never wanted something that NOT EVERYONE has. You've never wished you could come up with the money to pay your rent---lots of people don't even have roofs over their heads. You've never wished for a better job---lots of people would be happy to have ANY job AT ALL. You've never wished for a romance---lots of people DIE without EVER EXPERIENCING LOVE. You've never wished your husband would pick up his own goddamned underwear---SOME people's husbands are DEAD. You've never said you're hungry---lots of people are LITERALLY STARVING." Then the swift shove, and perhaps a little creative kicking.

But if _I_ tell MYSELF this sort of thing, it's helpful. It gives perspective, which is comforting. ...It's not very NICE, though, is it? I mean, essentially what I'm doing is making myself feel better by comparing other people's lives unfavorably to mine. I'm in essence saying "At least I'm not one of THOSE sad sacks. Compared to THOSE people, my life suddenly looks GREAT." Ick. Well, still. It can help make me feel happier with what I have, while hitting the perfect wallowing balance: I feel better, but I also reflect broodingly on all the sadnesses of the world I'm so far lucky not to be sharing.



There! I believe you now have all the information you need to start your own Wallow. Good luck, and good wallowing!

73 comments:

Robyn said...

So true, so true. People who DON'T wallow are just in denial.

I prefer the wallow.

Alice said...

this actually makes me long for something to wallow over. maybe i'll just go check out the clearance section at target WITHOUT a good reason.... :-)

Tracy said...

I like these helpful tips but what do you think about #5. Shirking normal responsibilities?

I like to combine this with #4 wallowing in that I must lay on the couch in my Target down throw and pout and therefore I could not possibly do the dishes/clean/cook dinner. This is especially good if your significant other is the source of your wallowing and then they sort of feel bad so they do your responsibilities for you. \

I hope it all helps, and I'm definitely going to look into the supplements (after I ask my doctor blah blah)

Miss Grace said...

You left out the very important SLEEPING.

Kim said...

Sweet Mother of God, if this isn't the most brilliant list ever. Any list that includes Elizabeth Berg and Sour Cream & Onion Pringles - that's advice I can get behind.
If you enjoy grapefruit scent, may I recommend Dove's yellow soap bars? Soap is a picky thing, but I can't stop telling people to get it. It makes me look forward to showers.
You nailed this!

Nowheymama said...

I've been handling my post-Christmas blues with some shopping for my winter-born children's birthdays. Toys on clearance! Fun paper goods!

Swistle said...

Tracy- YES, definitely we need Shirking. Or, when shirking is not possible, doing things with a Martyred Air.

amanda said...

What a hilarious and comprehensive guide, and it's all so true. Thank you!

Mimi said...

I WISH I was one of those people who could feel better eating healthy food and, say, excercising or something. But alas... I love a good wallow as well. And this list has given me some new wallowing ideas!

Swistle said...

Miss Grace- YES, sleeping! With subcategories for "sleeping in," "going to bed early, looking downcast as you go," and "napping pitifully on the recliner like a small child."

Kim- I went immediately to my shopping list and added it. I will have it within days! I love Dove.

skiplovey said...

3A, 3C & 4B - YES! That is so me, oh my gosh. And isn't is so this time of year too?

Lawyerish said...

I, too, have been perfecting the Art of the Wallow lately (Elizabeth Berg? Check! Alternating salty and sweet junk food? Check!), and I can add that The Office is an excellent Wallowing show on DVD, as is Felicity. Those two can get you a good solid month or more of Wallowing Time. And Love, Actually is a very good Wallowing movie; it's a little feel good-y, but also has some Melancholy/Wistful elements that keep it from being gratingly cheerful.

Another Wallowing activity is Long, Ambling Walks Alone. Of course, it's tougher in the winter, but the bad weather actually helps you feel more pitiful and alone.

Jenn Mc said...

Love the post and couldn't have said it better. And my number one rule to wallow is must have double stuff Oreo's, Coke, and Google Reader.

Now about those boy clothes... I'm interested!

the new girl said...

Oh, this post is Swistlicious!

Uhm.

Sorry. I grossed myself out a little with that but seriously?

Goood Poooost.

Lawyerish said...

Oh! Oh! Also: crossword puzzles and/or Facebook games (Word Challenge and the like). They are mentally diverting but somehow meditative. And you can pretend you're learning something and, therefore, the activity is productive on some level even though it takes place on the couch and is done in lieu of things like housework.

Swistle said...

Lawyerish- YES, Love Actually! I just watched that and it was PERFECT! The swelling triumph music got me EVERY TIME. Also YES to puzzles and games---I like Sudoku, and on Facebook I like Fluff Friends.

Allyson said...

I love Light a Penny Candle, fantastic book!

Erin said...

Oooh, boy clothes. I could use some, as I'm due with a boy in May (my first, yikes!) But...you don't know me and I don't want to interupt your important wallowing time.

Becky said...

Great post. I shall bookmark it for the next time I feel like wallowing.
I had to mention, though, when I saw the Cheetos: have you tried the spicy Cheetos (either the jalapeno ones or the firey ones) with sour cream? Because a friend introduced me to them, and I could sit with a bag of Cheetos and a tub of sour cream and go to town. Which is not normally OK behavior. But if you are wallowing, I think it is perfectly allowable!

Melissa said...

Oh Swistle. I knew I liked you, but this post? It makes me :heart: you. :) Thank you so, so much.

pseudostoops said...

If one already has a tendency to do things with a Martyred Air, without really having a good reason for a wallow, is that a problem? Merely curious, asking for scientific research purposes, etc etc.

Jane said...

So perfect Swistle. Thanks for making me view my blues with humor and thanks for reminding me that there are others out there who feel the same. But more importantly, thanks for the INCREDIBLY important reminder that sometimes I need to just cater to my blues--this is the perfect "how to" list.

Eleanor Q. said...

I see we are from the same school of thought. Husband likes to pick himself up and do something productive and always offers that as an alternative when I start wallowing (or when the oreos appear in the house- double stuff of course). I find that wallowing while still in one's PJs or sweatpants is even more satisfying.

Swistle said...

Becky- SPICY Cheetos? *skeptical*

Pseudostoops- I'd call it "good practice."

Eleanor Q.- That's right, we haven't addressed Proper Wallowing ATTIRE! Comfies, for sure. And the hair should look like you just don't care. And if you can find make-up that EMPHASIZES undereye circles, that's great---but otherwise, I'd go with none.

may said...

I think we need a picture of Swistle, wrapped in her new fleece throw, wallowing in the armchair. Maybe sleeping, with a bit of Cheetos drool leaking from the side of her mouth. THAT would make the post complete. : )

Also, I read two Maeve Binchy books per your advice, and I think we're now fighting. "Light a Penny Candle" was uber-depressing, and I also read "Circle of Friends," which was slightly better but still not my cup of tea. I do, however, like the Irish setting and names and general take on things. Why do you like her so much? (That sounds antagonistic, but I swear I'm simply asking out of curiosity.)

Oh, and if you want to get rid of the boy clothes for a potential June boy (although it could be a girl, who knows?) and don't want to mail them... Just a suggestion. : )

Fattylumpa said...

Oh Swistle. Just when I thought I couldn't love you any more.

"What we're looking for here is light but moody---humor and broody in the right proportions."

I believe you have perfectly done this here. This post is awesome. And so are you.

Cherish said...

I think Im ready for a good wallow right about now...but with so many things to choose from, what should I do first?

Swistle said...

Cherish- I'd start with the snack foods and the hair color.

Hotch Potchery said...

Apparently I have been food wallowing for the better part of 7 years, so I have to try for the healthy eating, exercising crap.

My new wallowing show is Old Christine, because I use the reverse of "other people have it worse" in the "well, I don't suck as bad as she does".

Jiff said...

Wow. I do retail therapy as well. And I love sending and receiving care packages!!!

Bunny said...

Honey, you have got this down to a science. I love! hearing how other people (and you specifically) cope with things. It got me thinking about what my own list would look like and it was interesting because I had some things that were the same, but some others I would do differently. I love the shopping therapy, of course, also because it's gets me out of the house and away from the brooding. It takes up whole hours that I could be spending feeling bad. But I would have to add that I clean off my kitchen counters. Or maybe I just pick one counter and clear it, possibly even piling the junk up elsewhere, but the clean counter gives me a little space to feel better. Then maybe I do another and it at least looks like there was something accomplished.

Saly said...

No, seriously, the jalapeno cheetos are TEH Awesome! (see you educated me)

The question though, is how do you find time to wallow with the 5 kiddos?

Shopping is my definite feel-good trigger.

Lippy said...

Oh, how I loooove you! You can judge my mental state by the number of lip glosses I have, my wallowing involves a lot of lip gloss purchases. I don't actually wear it, I just buy it. For Cheetos, I must have the puffs, yum. I also like to use the random sad sigh. Excellent post.

may said...

I think you should do another post on what qualifies as Wallow-Worthy. What kinds of things have you wallowed about over the years? What kinds of things do you wish you'd wallowed about and didn't?

I'm just recovering from something flu-ish that made me wish for death, and now that I'm back in real life, I'm wishing for death because NO FREAKING HOUSEWORK got done without me. Oh, and I'm generally feeling depressed. So I'm thinking about wallowing, but feeling a little babyish about it. Can I wallow anyway, blaming it on the sickness and/or hormones? Guide me, O Thou Great Swistle!

Astarte said...

Oh, GOD, OREOS!!!!!! Mmmmmmmm.... I am literally afraid to buy them, because I eat them ALL. YUMMMM.

I really want that Lavender conditioner stuff. Email me and tell me where to get some. I use Matrix usually ('cause I can get it on sale for $20 for it and the conditioner in a MEGA bottle that will last for a month), but I agree, on bad days, I want to use THAT, that you have!!!

Add You've Got Mail to the movie list for me. It's not sappy, but will allow you to cry and also giggle occasionally. I heart it.

Therese said...

I always enjoy reading your blog and I have to say that this could be my favorite post. I'm sorry that you have a reason to wallow which is necessitating this post, but it is brilliant!

Farrell said...

I say, wallow away! Seems like you have some good, if temporary, "cures" there.
If you want to send me girl clothes in 5T (for Sophie next year), I am ALL ABOUT IT!

Swistle said...

May- ANY situation is wallowable. The variability is in the DURATION and INTENSITY of the wallow, and also in the sorts of wallowing activities that are emphasized. For a "post-illness, house-is-a-mess wallow," I think I'd emphasize eating and diversions, going lighter on the comfort-buying (because then you have to put the new stuff away, lest it become further clutter).

Ali said...

oooh...i really really want to wallow right now...especially with those oreos :)

-R- said...

Ha, I am in a bit of a wallowy mood, and I just finished Circle of Friends and have now started both The Lilac Bus and Light a Penny Candle - all by Maeve Binchy.

If you need someone to take some baby boy clothes off your hands, I'm always here! My son is in the process of switching from newborn sizes to 3-6 month sizes, and it is so fun to have new clothes.

Jenny said...

My Wallow favorites include moody british music WHILE sitting in a rocker with a throw WHILE staring out the window. Depressing music always helps a good wallow.

Frondly said...

May I also recommend the homemade chocolate sauce on vanilla ice cream? I like how it gets all gooey and yum. A hot cup of coffee with it. That's the good stuff.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Um, I accidentally commented on the wrong post. Silly me. I say go ahead and wallow! And I knew it was too good to be true that I am the only one interested in your very cute boy hand me downs!

Julie said...

"Customize your wallow." That is going to be my new mantra.

Bring A. Torch said...

I think method 4A, the Chair Wallow, is much enhanced by the presence of at least one cat. Multiple cats preferable. Glad you're covered there. Also: Amelie was a good brooding flick for me recently. It was so beautiful I bawled like crazy and then felt better. (Also also: my verification word is "fidersob." Sheesh.)

kate w. said...

I think I have a Masters degree in Wallowing! :)
Props to you Swistle- this might be the best post I have ever read!

Misty said...

Mmmmm, most excellent guide. I feel you on the giving away of the clothes. I can't bring myself to this part yet. *Sigh*

Safire said...

Excellent guide...too busy to wallow here. Sigh...I miss a good wallowing now and then.

Now about those boy clothes...;) I'd be happy to take them off your hands and free up some closet/attic space for you. Then you can go out and buy things to put in them! Like storage boxes for that Christmas stuff!

Dr. Maureen said...

Excellent post! I will come back when I have something to wallow about. In other and unrelated news, I bought a mini-muffin pan today for use with the Swistle muffins which I have not yet tried to make. But we have a lot of bananas, and they'll probably all rot at the same time in three days, so...

d e v a n said...

Awesome post! I could actually picture you wallowing in your rocking chair with a hot cup of yummy coffee and a cookie, wrapped in a fleece blanket with a thoughtful look on your face.

I hate the "other people have it worse so you shouldn't complain" people. I mean, it's TRUE, but in that case pretty much no one could EVER complain about ANYTHING.

CC Donna said...

When you've had enough wallowing and want a diversion, I highly recommend the Janet Evanovich books. There is a series of 14 with a few in-betweens (that I'm not as fond of, but still good) They will make you lol.

Swis...have you ever revealed that delish hot fudge sundae sauce that someone we know an love dishes up? That's what would console me during a wallow....but...eat with caution, as it will lift you immediately out of "THAT MOOD"

mylittlebecky said...

ok... "sarcastic air quoting" is like my favorite thing to do ever!

Omaha Mama said...

I was reading your post and thinking that you forgot the most important eating category - salty and crunchy. Then I scrolled down and felt much, much better.

This list is just about how I do grieving every time. And that's what you've got to do here, grieve what you thought would be and now is not. It's a process, it takes steps, and you'll feel better soon. Especially with all of the techniques you've mentioned here!
:0)
I want to go buy some Softsoap grapefruit scented stuff right now!

Katie said...

A studious outline! I love this idea so much I might just be licking my laptop right now.

I personally love 1C and 2A...that lav. vanilla scent is the BEST ever. Especially when combined with the aroma of doritos. *HEAVEN*

Katie said...

Oh, also I second (third?) the HOT and SPICY Cheetos (not the jalapeno...just the spicy). If you feel like burning your mouth while simultaneously getting the salt/fat/synthetic cheese thing going. There is nothing better. Lets your mouth wallow with you...

melissa said...

I HEART this post! I'm due for a good wallow and that whole "exercise and be healthy in mind and body" stuff is soooo overrated, especially after the holidays!

Meg said...

And this is one of the many reasons I adore you and am now following you on Twitter. ::g:: (megthelegend)

Also, the comments wordy validationy thingy is evita, which kind of rocks. DOOOOON'T CRY FOR MEEEEE, SWIIIIISTLE....

Angella said...

Thank you for being my wallowing enabler. I owe you. Or we both need an intervention. Whatever.

(My word verification is EXESS. HAAAAAA)

fairydogmother said...

Oh, I love this post with all of my heart!

And now I'm off to wallow properly for the rest of the evening!

Michelle said...

I will definitely saving this up for when I need a good wallow. Hopefully that's about the time my office gets cleaned out....

thefrontroom said...

Swistle. You are one after my own heart. This post is so awesome. As are you. I am off to get some double stuffs.

Laura Essendine said...

If you like Maeve Binchy can I also recommend Penny Vincenzi and Judith Lennox to you. Both very readable in a Maeve kind of way. Tara Road is my favourite one of hers.

If you love period drama take a look at the BBC adaptations of classic novels. Everyone's seen Colin Firth's Pride & Prejudice but have you tried North & South? Scrumptious and best watched all in one go with chocolate on the side.

You must be wonder woman - how do you find time to blog and read with so many little ones?

Laura Essendine
Author – The Accidental Guru
The Accidental Guru Blog
The Books Limited Blog

bluedaisy said...

Wallowing is a necessary process in my book. And I like your strategy. When I am feeling sad, I dedicate some time to "feeding" that sadness. (Snacks, sappy movie, sad music, etc.) While to others it may seem unhealthy, I find that I come out better on the other side when I have given sadness it's due processing time. The only time it's not so good is if it goes on for too, too long- and I usually know when I am hitting that point. And YES I agree with you on the whole deal about comparisons with others who "have it worse". That doesn't make me feel better at all. I think it's better to realize that while life has many "goods" in it, there's no need to have guilt about your own sadness. Wallowing is a much healthier reaction than, oh say, denial...

Swati said...

Now that was some post! Funny and serious too. Sending you a hug (for the wallow) and an award (for the blog!). Get it on my blog http://hellonetbaby.blogspot.com from today's post. I am sorry I am not posting the exact address of the post - but having some problems and wish to close as soon as possible :)

HollyLynne said...

Those Pringles are 100% essential to a good wallow. You are so very right, as per usual, Swistleness! :)

Hillary said...

I'm a big fan of the Martyred Air, which, for me, must include a deal of Loud Sighing and Unnecessary Slamming. For that matter, a nice loud SLAM generally makes me feel better.

StephLove said...

I got Light A Penny Candle for my mom for Christmas (with some accompanying candles 'cause I'm like that), without having read it myself. I'm glad to hear it's good, though as far as I know Mom doesn't have anything over which to wallow. Maybe I'll tell her to save it until she does.

On a semi-related note, Partner and I are having a disagreement about baby clothes. We're finished having babies and we're both on board with that decision. So she wants to get rid of all the clothes the youngest has outgrown, but I can't quite bring myself to do it. I like having them around to dip into when someone I know has a baby or there's a clothes drive or something. I prefer the letting go gently method and she wants to make a clean sweep. I think she suspects me of secretly harboring a desire for one more baby...

Erin said...

These are excellent wallowing instructions. Hope it starts making you feel a little better soon.

Shelly Overlook said...

Never let it be said that wallowing is not an art form. Excellent Guide to Wallowing. Many thanks!

amber said...

This post was awesome, and so relatable! :) I'm sure you get that all the time, but still - I LOVED the shopping/food sections. And it's a great idea to stock up on necessary stuff, because I definitely shop when I'm sad, and later I end up kicking myself for overspending. No chance of that now!

Ellen said...

Wow, this is pure brilliance. I know a lot about wallowing, and doing it so that it's invigorating, rather than draining. I've mentioned before that my adorable boy, Max, had a stroke at birth, and over the years I've also perfected the art of wallowing! One thing I also do is make a point of reading entertaining blogs, like this one! And postsecret.com. I'm actually planning to do a post this week about amusing blogs, join in!

Mairzy said...

This post is actually... helpful. Did you mean to do that? :)

Lora said...

I like all those vitamins too. They make me feel better on the inside, but they make my moustach grow in at an alarming rate