Thursday, 3 November 2016

Top strategies for improving mood when you are feeling down in the dumps

We all have those days where nothing seems to be going to plan. You have so much to do but are simply getting nothing done, sitting and wallowing in your own misery hoping that somehow you will come out feeling better, having achieved something or that magically all your problems will disappear. Yesterday was one of these days for me. Growing up I quite commonly fell into the trap of overwhelm. This would particularly happen around exam time but also occurred any time I had to do something out of my comfort zone. But now this does not occur very often. Luckily after many years of not coping too well I have developed some strategies that work fast and very well for getting myself out of that dark hole. So yesterday after a few things didn’t quite work out the way I was hoping and I had spent the majority of the day feeling sorry for myself, I decided enough was enough. I got up, put on my active wear and went for a run. One of the first strategies I learnt all those years back was simply to get moving. I know when you are miserable that is the last thing you feel like doing but it is the first thing you should do. After being outdoors, getting some fresh air, listening to some uplifting music and getting my heart pumping, I was feeling much better, clear headed and energised. I have had many years to learn what works for me when I am feeling down, stuck or overwhelmed. I hope my strategies can help you too.

1.       Get moving- My all-time favourite strategy for anyone feeling stuck, down or miserable is to put on your running shoes and get outside. Go for a 10 minute walk, go for a run or a bike ride. I don’t care just get moving. When your mind is stuck in a negative spiral, the best and fastest way to change that is to create some movement. When I would be studying for exams and would be feeling totally overwhelmed I would get up, go for a walk and I would always come back feeling so much lighter, so much better. This is exactly what I did yesterday to get myself out of my bad mood. The combination of fresh air, some music and moving your muscles is the greatest way to change your mood.
2.       Breath- Deep breathing can be so powerful. It is a great way to centre yourself. Something that can be done anywhere at any time. When we are stressed, overwhelmed and panicked we often forget to breath. If you feel these dreaded emotions coming over you stop and focus your mind on your breath. This can be enough to change the outcome of your emotions. It is one of my favourite strategies if you are at work, about to go into an exam or in a situation where you can’t just go off for a walk around the block. Simply excuse yourself and go to the bathroom where you can focus purely on your breath for 5 minutes until your mind begins to relax.
3.       Talk to someone- misery is a lonely person’s game. This is how I feel at least. It is much easier to be miserable when you are alone and often when you are feeling down all you feel like doing is retreating to your room and blocking out the world and all those people in it. However, this is actually the worst thing you can do. Talking to someone who can support you is often so helpful in these low times. It helps to get things off your chest, puts things in perspective and it just helps to know someone out there cares. I was alone all day yesterday and once my husband came home and I had some company and someone to talk to I realised I had to pull myself out of my mood. If you don’t feel like you have someone you are comfortable opening up to then there are professionals available and I highly recommend you speak to one.
4.       Rescue remedy- This is a handbag must have. It’s quick, easy and works fast. A few sprays helps to calm you down immediately.
5.       Music- music does wonders for the mood. It can lift you and it can bring you back down. For me I find it really depends on the day but sometimes all I need is to belt out an emotive song to release any pent up sadness while other days I need something fun and uplifting. This is something you will have to work out for yourself but if you are deep in sadness, music is an exceptional way to release emotions. With my run yesterday I had some fun pop music and then followed it with a few ballots to sing along to while stretching. I found that the uplifting music helped me get out of my bad mood while the more emotive songs were a good place to think and put things into perspective.
6.       Pets- Aren’t animals just the best. They are always there for us no matter what. They listen, they don’t judge and they just give some much love. If you don’t have a pet call up a friend who does and go give it a cuddle.
7.       Nature- my first point of getting outside touched on this slightly but nature has amazing abilities to help centre and heal. It has been shown that going barefoot on dirt for 30 minutes a day has amazing health benefits. I love going to the Dandenong ranges and walking in Sherbrook forest. I find it really helps to calm me and I always come home so positive and relaxed. But obviously that’s not somewhere I can go daily so just go outside and spend some time in your garden or walking the streets and smelling the flowers. Others may look at you like you are a crazy hippie but I promise you will feel better for it!

My favourite place to escape to. The Dandenong Ranges.

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