When people feel low the main temptation is to let their mood get the upper hand. It doesn’t need to be this way but thinking of ways to change the atmosphere and therefore the mood don’t always come easily. Here are just a few things you might like to consider:
Get warm. People who are feeling despondent or depressed often don’t do much activity. They often feel cold physically and emotionally and this drags down mood even further. Just by warming the room, or wearing additional warm clothing, or luxuriating for a while in a warm bath, can lift the spirits.
Move the Furniture. It’s not uncommon to feel despondent when things in life feel stuffy and stagnant. Just moving things around a bit can change the whole complexion of a room and your mood with it. How long have those pictures been on the wall? Are those the only photographs you can put in the frames? Do the chairs have to be arranged like that? What about some flowers or grasses in a couple of pots?
Dress up. When we’re feeling down it’s common to neglect our appearance. If you’ve been slouching around in your scruffs, unwashed, hair in a mess, and looking how you feel, then turn it around. You’ll only be doing what you’d do normally and you’ll feel so much better.
Retail Therapy. Let’s not pretend a little spending doesn’t lift the mood. If you have the cash, why not go out and treat yourself to something. While you’re about it, sink your teeth into something indulgent along with your coffee, and you can sit and let the world go by.
Eat well. While we’re on the subject of shopping it’s a good thing to consider your diet. If your basket is full of ready meals there’s a good chance your low moods are being fed by your own hand. There’s good evidence for a link between diet and depression, so for it to function properly your brain needs a range of proteins, minerals and vitamins that come from fresh foods, vegetables and fruit.
Don’t diet. It’s just possible that one of the things feeding into your low mood is how you look. Maybe you’ve put on some weight and are struggling to get into your clothes. Curiously, this may not be the best time for you to go on a slimming diet as these can have the effect of making an already low mood even worse. Much better to review your diet as a whole and plan to make long-term changes involving a balanced diet and some exercise. Meanwhile, it isn’t an excuse to eat more
Plan it. There’s nothing like a spot of planning. Whether it’s for travel or some other project, the act of planning means something is happening and it can pull you away from the feeling of inertia that comes with despondency or low moods.
Do it. We’re surrounded by things, many of which are free, that are completely enjoyable. You may not feel like a walk, or a visit to the park, the museum or library, but once you’re out you’ll be pleased you did it. Rather than sit and mope, get some movement going, just the fact you are taking modest exercise will help to lift the spirits. See Prepare to Fight Depression in 2012.
Fix it. You know that thing you’ve been promising yourself you’d deal with and never got around to? Here’s an opportunity. Whether it’s washing the car or repairing some garment there’s a sense of forward movement and achievement when such things are ticked off the list.
Make contact. Sitting in isolation isn’t good for low moods. Whether it’s by telephone call or (even better) face-to-face, communication is a good thing and almost always lifts mood.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.