How To Cope With Feeling Down
Everyone gets fed up at times – we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Learning how to cope with these feelings is important, especially if they happen when we don’t have our usual support network around us. At these times, it might seem easier to turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate our low mood. Unfortunately it’s a short-term fix that can actually make our feelings worse. It can also start a spiral of dependency, a withdrawal from the reality that’s impossible to cope with while sober.
The more we practise healthy coping mechanisms, the better prepared we’ll be when we do get down. So, it’s good to have a variety of options to fight off the blues: using them regularly can train us to automatically put them into action when we start to feel down and prevent it getting worse.
Do Some Exercise
Sometimes we just want to withdraw, curl up in a ball and not go out. Although it may feel like the best thing to do at the time, withdrawal feeds our low mood, making it harder to get out of bed at all. Forcing ourselves to get up and go out can seem a huge task, but break it down into baby steps and eventually we get there.
When we get our feet on the floor, exercise can be more effective than antidepressants. It can boost many of the ‘happy chemicals’ associated with mood control. Researchers in Sweden have discovered that exercising muscles, especially leg muscles, helps purge the body of stress chemicals that promote depression.
So, instead of staying in bed, you could:
- Listen to upbeat music & dance
- Hit the gym
- Take a fitness class like Zumba, yoga or kickboxing
- Play football or another sport
- Go for a walk, jog or run
- Walk the dog
Promote The Positive
As the old song says – Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative – but it’s a lot easier to think positive thoughts when you’re not already feeling down. If something has triggered our low mood, we tend to replay it, getting stuck in a time loop that drags us further and further down. Or we start to think of other negative things from the past. Practising skills to avoid this can make us more resilient when it really matters. Building a bank of happy thoughts – the ones that make you smile when you think of them – can be a store you can visit to avoid the negative ones.
When you find yourself being negative:
- Stop replaying the upsetting thoughts – don’t let yourself wallow
- Find even the smallest positive outcome in what has happened
- Visit your bank of happy thoughts
- Speak to a friend, relative or stranger
- Keep a diary of your feelings, including positive ones
- Try meditation or mindfullness
When you’re feeling down, doing the simplest thing can take a lot of effort. This can make you feel worse: stressed, anxious or even guilty about what you’re not doing. To avoid this, be gentle with yourself, set small goals and be pleased with yourself when you achieve them.
Build time into your daily or weekly routine to:
- Take some time to ‘chill out’ without feeling guilty
- Read a book that you love
- Catch up with friends
- Have some fun on the Xbox, PS or watching Netflix
- Go to a movie with someone you haven’t seen in a while
- Pamper yourself with a massage or treatment at home or at a spa
Mental health is something that everyone should look after and strengthen. We shouldn’t be embarrassed when we feel ‘under the weather’ mentally. There are many places to go for help when the suggestions above don’t work and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for that extra assistance, whether it’s professional counselling or medication. Visit your GP or Mental Health Centre, as you would with any other health problem, after all – that’s what they’re for.