Just like anxiety, which we’ve spoken about before on the blog, low mood is a natural part of life. It can be a useful guide to warning us when something our life doesn’t feel quite right, or isn’t quite in sync, and it can help us in shifting things up so we feel brighter and more comfortable.
The problem comes when our low mood persists, and our motivation is also low, so self-help and self-care strategies seem like they’re just not achievable. In those circumstances, it can be useful to have a set of low-level, small changes that we can make to our lives, to make the day a little easier, and give ourselves a bit of a foundation for a better day.
It sounds so challenging sometimes, to try and explain to someone else how we’re feeling. We feel like we don’t have the words, and often feel like no one else will understand. The thing is – no one will know exactly your experience of life. But there will be lots of people who care about you, and want to support you if you’re having a rough time. We’re often told to ‘put on a brave face’ or ‘smile through it’; sometimes, you just need to be honest and say, ‘I’m having a rough time at the moment and I don’t really know how to fix it’. And then just ask them to listen
When we’re feeling low we can feel super demotivated, and we can lose track of our routines, and the basics. But humans need, and thrive, when their basic needs are met, so even if you feel like you can’t do much, make sure to hit the basics each day. You can have a ticklist in your phone, or your journal, or the simple things that you will commit to doing each day:
- Brushing teeth
- Three meals a day
- A good night’s sleep
- Some fresh air
- Some light exercise – nothing strenuous, just get your body moving with a walk, some stretches, a swim, or a team game with some friends
- Time without screens – aim for an hour at the beginning and end of each day, without screens
And, even though they seem little, they can often feel totally unmanageable. So when you’ve done those things, make sure to give yourself a little pat on the back – they might be small steps, but they’re all in the right direction.
- Choose supportive company
Have you seen the meme that says, ‘before you diagnose yourself with depression, make sure you’re not just surrounded by a**eholes? Well, it has some truth in it! When you’re feeling low, it’s a really good idea to seek out your kindest, friendliest, most supportive friends and family – the ones who make you feel good about being you. Life is hard enough at the moment, so make it easier by choosing a good gang to have around you. And, whilst we’re at it, be a good friend to yourself too.
- Think about the most depressing day ever…
…and then reverse it. When you’re feeling at your most low, what do you do? Keep the curtains closed, not bother with your shower, stay in your room all day, curled up in bed, avoiding people and the world, and keeping your face down? Think of the behaviour you use most often when you’re feeling depressed… and then reverse it. Open the curtains, take a shower and head downstairs to have some breakfast. Make plans to see good friends or even seek out your family in the living room. Listen to your happiest music. Whilst your heart might not be in it, committing to positive behaviours can be a really useful way to ‘fake it until you make it’.
When we’re feeling low, it can be tempting to manufacture a high using alcohol or substances. But what goes up must come down, and the crash is often harder than the original low. If you think this is an issue for you, be honest and talk to a trusted adult.