Those close to me they know that I’ve been suffering from a low mood of late. I thought it was just the post travel blues but it might be more than that. Struggling to find full time work, working late nights, juggling three casual jobs, having a lack of money, not having a licence or ability to get one, feeling isolated from my partner, friends and family… All these things can turn into a snowball effect and leave you feeling lost and unsure about life.
It’s not fun when you feel this way. Often when we feel upset or down, we harm ourselves more by using unhealthy coping mechanisms. Socially isolating or withdrawing yourself in one of those things. Self medicating with alcohol is another. Or some people put all their energy into one aspect of their life and neglect other aspects.
So it’s important to acknowledge when you are feeling down and find ways to help yourself. Now that I’m in a part of my life where I’m struggling to stay positive, I remember some rules that have helped me get back on track in the past and I would like to share them with you
1. Talk to someone. It seems obvious but people don’t do it. People may not realise that you are suffering or that something is bothering you. Not everyone knows how to start this conversation, because it is scary and can be difficult opening up to someone. I have found that sometimes you just need to say “I need to talk to someone” to begin this process. It might start off awkwardly but keep talking. You will feel better afterwards.
2. Write it down. If you can’t talk to anyone or you are not ready to, write down your thoughts. This also helps if you’re angry or upset at someone. Write it down and read it. It will help you understand why you feel that way, even if there is no actual reason why. You will also be able to gather your thoughts. It doesn’t have to make sense. Not does it need to follow a logical form. Just write down what comes into your head.
3. Get some exercise. Even if it is just a quick walk, the exercise will help you in the long run. Did you know that exercise releases the same endorphins in the brain that chocolate releases? And it’s free! It’s the most underuse antidepressant… I can often be hard to be motivated to exercise when you feel low, so start out small and build up your exercise routine. You will defitely start to feel better after some consistent exercise!
4. Try to eat a balanced diet. Eating junk food might make you feel good in the short term, but people often suffer the food remorse after they’ve eaten that big block of chocolate! If you eat healthy foods you will start to feel better about yourself and have more energy.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume. If you drink regularly, try to have a few alcohol free nights. Otherwise, try to go alcohol free at that next work function to birthday party. If people question you, say it’s for health reasons and leave it at that. Alcohol is called a depressant for a reason, and I’m not just talking about the physical effects on your body…
6. Do something for you. Sometimes we are so caught up in making sure everyone else is happy and that all our responsibilities are met, that we forget to make time for us. So for me, I used to go get my nails done. It made me feel good about myself and it was a relaxing experience. Now that I can’t afford this, I have to find new ways to do something for me. So, for example, I might give myself a pedicure, or have a bubble bath.
7. Be grateful for what you have. Positive thinking and being grateful can go a long way. People who are grateful for what they do have in their life are often more positive people and have higher overall happiness than those who are not. So start a gratitude journal.
8. Smile. Even if it’s fake, put a smile on your dial. Studies have shown that by smiling regularly you can trick your brain into thinking you are happy. So you can basically smile yourself happy! Do this in the mirror after you brush your teeth in the morning so you’re ready to face the day with a smile on your dial!
9. Repeat positive affirmations. Another way to think yourself happy. Think of what it is you want to change in your life and repeat this mantra every day. Even if you don’t believe it at first, keep repeating it. Eventually you will believe it, and most likely it will come true. Some good affirmations to start with could be “I am a happy and loveable person” or “I will succeed in finding a new job”.
10. Engage socially. Social interactions are imperative for our mental health. So go to that party or function and socialise. Join up for a team sport. Volunteer for a community event. Whatever it is, make it a positive experience where you can meet up with friends or meet new people.
Making positive changes in your life to improve your emotional and mental well being is so very important. I hope my little tips help people who might be lost, confused or sad.
Please note that these are generic and basic coping methods. Whilst I have studied psychology I am not a trained psychologist and if you or someone you know is experiencing a prolonged depressed mood, I urge you to seek professional help.
Please go to Beyond Blue to get more information on depression and anxiety or to seek professional help.