Feeling down sometimes is a very natural part of the human experience. We are designed to feel the entire spectrum of emotions, and often we are left overwhelmed when things aren't going so well.
Although we all experience this, it can feel very isolating. Remember that you are not alone. Everyone has bad days, even people who appear to have a perfect life. Many of us hide this side of ourselves, and don't reach out when we're feeling low. Everyone in your life has been through something similar, so don't be scared to ask for help if you need it. Sometimes just having a cup of tea and a talk with a loved one is enough to elevate us.
Feeling depressed or down can be overwhelming and all-consuming, and we can easily lose perspective. Below are five practical strategies for working your way out.
1. accept that emotions & moods are like the weather.
"Some people feel the rain, others just get wet." - Bob Marley
We accept the natural fluctuations of the weather, and watch it pass overhead. It is the most natural thing in the world. Our moods are the same. Once you realise that everything is temporary, you take your power back.
See your sadness or low mood as a rain cloud moving through your energy field. That's all it is. See it, recognise it, and watch it pass through, because it WILL pass. Everything does. This is also a wonderful way to appreciate the good in our lives; when we are happy, we must revel in it and be grateful for every moment.
Once you understand and see the natural patterns of your moods, it will allow you to surrender to them, and know that things will get better.
2. Be thankful.
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into joy" - William Arthur Ward
The simple things in life are the best. But how often do we take these things for granted? Bringing yourself back to gratitude will remind you just how beautiful life is. We tend to let our problems overshadow everything else; and its easy to feel overwhelmed.
Many people in the world would do anything to have what you have. Having our basic needs met is a blessing. If you have shelter, clean water, food, clothing, and a few dollars in your pocket, you are doing better than most people on Earth.
Writing a gratitude list is such an effective way of creating happiness, and quickly puts things into perspective. Most of us have more than the basics; we have freedom, love, family, friends, a job, and lots of little luxuries. Write these down. Make a list in your phone if you don't have a pen and paper handy. Make a habit of doing this, and soon you will see just how much you have to be grateful for.
If there are people in your life you're thankful for, tell them. Another wonderful way to lift yourself is to lift others. Write a letter, make someone a meal, pick flowers for a friend, or simply be present with your loved ones.
3. Get moving and / or in nature
"No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everybody on the couch."
One of the quickest ways to boost your mood is to exercise. Exercise is essential for a healthy body and mind, and can make a tangible difference for those who experience depression.
Often, it's the last thing you feel like doing when you're down, but will reap huge rewards. Push yourself, and get to the gym, or even go for a short walk. Listen to some upbeat music as you go.
Getting outside is also very healing. Take your shoes off and sit in the grass for ten minutes, and notice the beauty of the natural world around you. We get so caught up in our heads that we often fail to notice what a beautiful place earth is. Get back to your childhood roots and watch the clouds in your lunch break, pick some flowers, or take a swim in the ocean. Don't underestimate how powerful these small things are.
4. Change it up
"A change is as good as a holiday."
Refreshing your surroundings can make you feel like a new person, as can changing your routine. Sometimes this stuff takes a little internal push to get going; but remember that taking action will make you feel productive and boost your mood. Here are some ideas to mix it up:
- Rearrange your bedroom - new cushions or a duvet cover will totally change your room.
- De-clutter your belongings and rearrange your wardrobe.
- Create a Dream Board and hang it in your space.
- Listen to a new playlist - find something fun and upbeat.
- Talk a different route to work.
- Go for a random drive. Play your music loud and sing along.
- Try a new class at the gym, or grab a skipping rope for a fun at-home workout.
- Cook something completely different for dinner.
- Go and watch the sun set on the beach.
- Wear those items in your wardrobe you've been saving for a special occasion.
- Book a leave day, and take yourself somewhere in your city you've never been.
- Take yourself out for lunch or a coffee somewhere different.
- Get up early and watch the sun rise.
- Have breakfast in bed.
5. Treat yourself
"Treat yo self!"
Don't forget how special you are. If you're feeling down, be gentle, and handle yourself with love. Learning to love and cherish yourself can be a lifelong journey. The little things in life can bring so much pleasure, and we must remember to treat ourselves when we feel low. If your budget is limited, don't be dissuaded; just use your creativity. The best gift we can give ourselves is simply some time out.
Be mindful not to use food, shopping, alcohol or drugs as a way to numb or distract yourself. If you suspect you are doing this, it's important to talk to someone who can help you work through any underlying issues (see links at the end of the article).
Loving ways to treat yourself
- Run a bubble bath with candles.
- Take time out alone and put on a movie.
- Make a cup of tea and sit in the sun with a book.
- Go and get a massage or spa treatment.
- Have a meal at your favourite cafe or restaurant.
- Cook yourself a special meal at home.
- Put fresh sheets on your bed, and light a few candles in your room.
- Browse a bookstore, and choose a magazine or book to take home. The self-help book section is a great one to browse if you're feeling a bit flat.
- If budget permits, consider booking a weekend away in the near future to have something to look forward to.
- Book in to a new class; try meditation, yoga, cooking or something creative.
When to get help
If you've been feeling down for a while, or feel like you are too low to get out on your own, it's time to ask for help. If you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek help immediately. You don't have to suffer alone. There are so many ways to get through depression, and many wonderful resources around. Click on the links below for more information.
www.depression.org.nz | Depression helpline freephone 0800 111 757