The 2:30 Feeling

In our society, we often pathologize low feelings, like gloom or lethargy. But in reality, all of these feelings fit into the regular flux of human emotions. It only becomes a mental health concern if these feelings are pervasive and long-lasting. But sometimes thinking such emotions aren’t meant to be there at all can cause us to fixate on them and create a story around them, turning them into a bigger issue. How can we approach some of the harder emotions we face healthily? Take, for example, the 2:30 feeling. Many people get into a slump a couple hours after lunch. Science shows that this is in part due to our circadian rhythms. Because you probably woke up early for work or to get your kids to school, your body naturally wants to take a rest around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. Some countries, such as Spain, actually incorporate a nap into their work days around this time for that very reason. If you start to feel fatigued or dismal around this time every day, and you don’t know this is fairly normal, you might critique yourself for being lazy or unambitious. Then maybe you start feeling bad about yourself, which can actually cause the low feelings to stick around, and could even hurt your self-esteem in the long run. However, if you know that this little slump is natural, you might instead get up and take a bathroom break or a short walk if your situation allows for it, and just tell yourself “this is just a midday lull, I’ll feel better soon,” or “all states of consciousness pass.” Or think of something you’re excited about once work is over, such as what you’re eating for dinner, or the movie you’re going to watch with your kids. And remember, this doesn’t only apply to the 2:30 feeling. Hard emotions can come at any time. What we can do is remind ourselves that it is normal and okay for hard emotions to arise, change our relationship to these feelings and what stories we tell about ourselves because of them, and know that they will pass and happier feelings are on the way!