Bad days come and go. But how do you deal with them when you’re low? It is important to understand why you’re feeling down and not beat yourself up for it. Maybe you caught a cold or started taking a new medication. Once you know the reason, you can look for a solution. But if you can’t figure out the cause, that’s alright. You can still try some of these steps to boost your mood.
Reasons You Could Be Feeling Down
Instead of jumping to the most common conclusion of depression or serious illness, look at your lifestyle first. Check that you’re hydrated, eating well, exercising regularly, and taking time out every now and then. Self-diagnosis can be dangerous. So make sure to try and fix your habits before assuming you have a mental illness. But if you’re certain it is something serious, seek professional help. That being said, there are many reasons you could feel down: rigorous work and home schedules, relationship conflicts, being burned out, seasonal changes or winter blues, premenstrual syndrome, lack of nutrition, dehydration, prolonged inactivity, and isolation. The good news is that with a little bit of self-care, all of these can be managed.
This feeling may or may not be persistent. It may go away when you’re having a blast with your friend, lost in a movie or good book, or eating your favorite meal. When these things stop having any effect, that’s when you know it’s something serious. Feeling down once in a blue moon is perfectly normal. Feeling down, thinking everything is hopeless and that you’re worthless, being fatigued all the time no matter what you eat, greater irritability, and physical pain that has no apparent causes are signs and symptoms of depression. Sudden mood changes and impulsive behavior can point to bipolar disorder.
Another factor that can help you differentiate between illness and mood changes is time. Usual feel-good techniques, like self-care and gratitude journaling as listed in this article, should improve your mood when you’re feeling down. It is not normal to feel down for several weeks with no signs of improvement, especially if you’re trying to get better. So it is best to watch out for other symptoms and observe how long this mood lasts if you want to be sure whether it’s the usual dip or cause for alarm.
Take a Day Off For Self-Care
Now that you know how to distinguish between illnesses and a normal drop in your mood, here’s a list of easy things you can do to combat it. Science has proven that little things like listening to your favorite happy song or going to the gym can uplift your spirit. You don’t have to go big.
- Gratitude journaling. Gratitude can help you in many ways. It can help you focus on the good, acknowledge the bad, and declutter your brain from an ocean of negative thoughts. Research suggests that it can also help build healthy eating habits in teens. Writing down a few things you’re grateful for daily might seem useless, but you’ll be happier and more content in the long run.
- Exercise. Workouts release endorphins, basically happy chemicals that instantly lift your mood. Going for a walk outside can also help. Take your friends with you, try plogging, or simply get some sun. The key thing is to get moving.
- Take a nap. This is the simplest way to stop feeling down. You know how it goes: if you think you hate everybody—eat something; if you think everybody hates you—take a nap. Sometimes, all you need is to shut your eyes for a few minutes and relax. It will release all the built-up muscle tension in your body and calm your mind.
- Clean. It can be anything—your room, cupboard, desk, fridge, or house. Cleaning gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps you feel more in control and less anxious. A mess needs to be cleaned. The idea of this always remains in your mind and can be a burden. So once that’s out of the way, you can have more room for imagination and relaxation.
Don’t Go Through it Alone
When someone’s feeling down, their first response is to isolate themselves. While this is a good way to cope in some cases, it is best to talk to someone in others. Self-care is not just wearing a sheet mask and taking a long bath. Meeting up with old friends, calling someone you haven’t talked to in a while, and simply texting your family to check up on them are also forms of self-care. This way, you connect yourself with the relationships that keep you alive.
Talking to someone about your mental health is an effective way to get better. Social support does wonders for those with mental illnesses. It is good to know you are not alone when you’re feeling down. If your friends and family are busy, there are websites that offer trained listeners who can talk to you on call or by text. Having someone’s company relieves the burden off of you and helps you see things in a new light. You’ll be surprised how much the company of positive people can affect you. So spend time with uplifting people. Take it light.
Although sharing your thoughts with someone is beneficial, it can be challenging. It takes a certain amount of courage to be vulnerable and some strength to voice the mess in your head. Don’t get discouraged if the first time sharing your struggles doesn’t make you feel better. Communication is not easy. You and the listener must work at a matching pace to get on the same page. But in the end, the effort will be worth it. However, don’t limit yourself to others. Do something on your own as well. Start a gratitude journal or a simple diary to track your thoughts.
Feeling down is a common state. Seasons, workload, relationship stress, old and new habits—anything can contribute to a low mood. If it’s not a prolonged issue, you don’t need to worry. A few lifestyle changes and a self-care day can fix the problem. Sharing your mental burden with someone else can also lift you up. You just have to take the leap first and ask for help. Or you can simply have a get-together with your friends and family and let the jokes wash it away. Either way, you’ll make it out of this. Take it easy.