Feeling down? Here are five ways that you can improve your mood and help you to overcome your low mood. If you are clinically depressed, please read the disclaimer.
1. CHANGE NEGATIVE THINKING TO POSITIVE THINKING
Often someone who is depressed will adopt negative thinking patterns that keeps them stuck in a bad mood. These negative thinking patterns can be the result of overgeneralization. For example, the person thinks that since they have had a single negative experience, they will experience the same thing in the future.
For example: If Sarah is treated impolitely one time by a store clerk at a bookstore, she reasons that she would get impolite response from the same store clerk next time she visit the bookstore. Or she might even generalize the experience and come to the conclusion that all the store clerks at that particular bookstore are impolite, and avoid going to that bookstore altogether.
Another very common negative thinking is using a mental filter. This is when someone only notices what went wrong but ignores what went right.
For example: Sarah asked her friend Nancy a question but Nancy was not responsive to her. It could be that Nancy wa actually thinking about something else and didn’t notice that Sarah had asked her a question. A few minutes later, Nancy was out of her daydream and started talking to Sarah again. This is a positive thing because it shows that Nancy actually would like to interact with Sarah. But Sarah completely dismisses Nancy's attempt to communicate with her and decides that she doesn't respect her or like her by being unresponsive in the first place)
Another negative thinking pattern is emotional reasoning, which is to believe that what you feel is actually the reality without evidence.
For example: Jose just immigrated to the United State a few weeks ago, and soon after arriving was teased by someone that his English is not good because he is Mexican. Jose felt bad and formed the impression that people in the United States will not accept him in general. Later, Jose went into a restaurant and sat down next to a group of teenagers. When Jose was ordering his food, he suspected that he had pronounced the menu item wrong because right after he pronounced the words, a couple of teenagers sitting next to him started to laugh out of control. Jose was self-conscience and quickly arrived at the conclusion that those teenagers were laughing at his poor English. This was Jose’s immediate reasoning at the time, but was not the truth, which is that the teenagers were just sharing a funny video they had watched on YouTube and had cracked up laughing just as Jose had finished ordering his food.
So it is very important to check if you are adopting any of the above negative thinking traps and try to replace them with positive or neutral thinking. Keep a “negative thought log” and write down how you feel, why you feel that way and what happened, whenever you experience a negative thought. At the end of the day, take out the log book, review it and consider if any of your negative thoughts was truly justified. Could you view the incident from another perspective? Is it the truth or is it your imagination?
2. DO THINGS THAT YOU ENJOY OR USED TO ENJOY
Write down a list of things that you find enjoyable or used to enjoy doing in the past. Then find time to push yourself to do at least one of them, even when you don’t feel like it. You may be surprised at how much better you feel once you starting engaging in activities that you enjoy. When you find time to do these things more often, your mood will improve gradually and you will start looking forward to doing these things and feeling better.
Some activities that you may enjoy are going for a walk, spending some time in nature, reading a good book, taking a relaxing hot bath, calling up old friends and catching up with them, listening to your favorite music, gardening, and so on.
3. GET REGULAR EXERCISE
When you feel down, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing. But exercise is a powerful tool to counteract depression. Studies have shown that exercise increases the production of endorphins (feel good chemical) in your body and improves people’s mood.
Exercise can also release stress and muscle tension and make you feel better. In fact, a 10 minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. If you don’t like walking, you can choose another type of exercises, such as swimming, golfing, dancing, yoga, and so on. The key to getting ongoing mood benefits is to exercise regularly.
4. EAT A HEALTHY, MOOD-BOOSTING DIET
What you eat affects how you feel. If you eat junk food all day, you will keep crappy. If you eat nutrient rich food, you are giving your body what it needs, and both your body and your mind will feel wonderful. Not getting enough B vitamins such as folic acid and B12 can trigger depression. To get adequate B vitamins, eat more citrus fruit, banana, leafy greens, beans, fish, beef, turkey, chicken, pork, nuts and eggs.
5. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
Sometimes, talking to a professional and figuring out why you are depressed can help you to overcome your depression. I have gone through depression myself and helped people overcome their depression by coaching them and discovering with them how they can overcome their depression too. I take a non-judgmental, understanding approach. Just contact me and I'll be happy to schedule a free half hour talk to find out if I can help you.
If you are clinically depressed, you need to see a licensed psychotherapist, psychiatrist or counsellor. Coaching can help you to overcome depression faster and be a tool to support you on your recovery but coaching is not therapy and it can never substitute for therapy. If you are seeing a psychotherapist or psychiatrist now and would like to get more support to help you to overcome your depression, I will be happy to help.
If you are not clinically depressed but find yourself feeling down, Coach Janet can discover the root cause of your feelings and find ways to live a positive life with you.