Moods are malleable! For the longest time, I resigned myself that once I started slipping into the depths of being down and depressed, there was no turning back. Maybe tomorrow might be better, but for now, I was stuck watching myself descend deeper into this funk. It wasn’t until I saw it happen that I realized it didn’t have to always go spiraling downhill. You can actually make your mood trajectory go towards the positive!
I know it can happen (even if I still don’t believe it when I’m in the midst of feeling down). You do not need to be a prisoner of your moods; it is possible to turn the tables and be in charge of them. A go-to action plan can be helpful to have at the ready for those times when you don’t know how to help yourself and everything seems like a crappy waste of time. In those moments, tell yourself to suspend that disbelief and humor the non-depressed you, with no agenda or expectations. Just do it!
- Jump in the shower. A shower never fails to make me feel even just a tiny little bit refreshed afterwards. Skip the bath – this isn’t for languishing – get in the shower, breath in the steam, and see what happens.
- Go outside. Go somewhere with green grass, green trees, and things that can distract your eyes. This “visual therapy” can do wonders for a bad mood. A walk around the block is good, even if it’s only for five minutes. Take deep, cleansing breaths of the fresh air.
- Change your clothes dammit! We’re in the house so it doesn’t seem worth it to get dressed. But do it anyway. Best bet would be after you shower, but even if you skipped that step, still put on fresh clothes. Start with your favorite undies (yes, please change those also) and go from there. Pick something that you love yourself in – that makes you feel good and comfy, not sloppy.
- Cook for yourself. There’s something to be said for making yourself a meal. It’s different than just eating to not be hungry. Cook for yourself like you’d cook for a special loved one. Sit down and dine; don’t stand and shovel in food.
- Create something with no purpose. Draw or color a picture to mail to someone, knit something, play with some clay. It doesn’t need to be for long and it certainly doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. Give yourself 30 minutes or even less and create something out of nothing.
- Call or video chat. Don’t just randomly call someone, only to have them not answer and you feeling defeated in your attempt. Give them a heads up. Think of three people you’d like to talk to. Tell them you need them and let them know you could use a friend. Set yourself up for success here.
- Play your favorite music. Don’t play songs that will make you feel down; play the songs that always get you feeling good. Nothing coming to mind? Search YouTube for “positive sounds positive messages.” You’ll get a full line-up of caring voices and tranquil music telling you good things about yourself.
- Classic TV comfort content. What’s a television show that makes you forget your troubles and lets you escape into its story? Sometimes a few episodes can give your brain a break and time to slow down the depressive momentum that was picking up steam. Now don’t sit in bed and binge seven seasons of Dynasty, but a few episodes sometimes can help you switch gears.
- Switch rooms. That means get out of the bedroom. Pick a room that has sunlight coming in or an outside spot. Just summon the strength (I know this can feel like an impossible task sometimes) to move out of where you’ve been sitting and change your environment.
- Get out of bed. This pairs well with the step above, but if you aren’t able to do anything else, follow this one. Try to avoid laying down until it’s time to go to sleep at night. Stay out of the fetal position and get out from under the covers.
- Clean something small. Don’t try to tackle the entire house; heck, don’t even try for an entire room. It could be something that’s been bugging you. Maybe a load of laundry or clearing dishes from the sink. Little accomplishments can give your brain big success signals.
- Watch a motivational video. Save videos that inspire you for times when you need to hear their message. Make this your emergency stash of video clips on YouTube. If you don’t have some saved, just do a quick search for positive thinking advice. Conversely, turn off TV news and social media. All of those things can get you stressed, angry, and feeling insecure.
- Create a vision board. Pinterest is a great place for this. Make a private board of things that make you happy. It doesn’t need to be about visions of your goals or the farmhouse mansion you want someday. Make it just real, fun stuff that instantly makes you feel warm and happy inside.
- Indulge your senses. Put on your favorite perfume or lotion that you love the smell of. Do some essential oil diffusing. Breathe in and let the fragrances roll through your nose and lungs.
- Go for a drive. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Don’t do this if you think you’ll be too distracted or emotional, however.
- Exercise. I know, I know: who wants to workout when they’re feeling down? But it doesn’t need to be complicated. Even just a run in your sweats can get your heart rate up and start giving your body all sorts of natural mood enhancing benefits.
- Wash your hair! Sorta along the same lines as taking a shower, but for some of us, this is a whole other process. Wash and style and take your mind off of things. It’s easier to feel better when you’re looking fabulous.
All these tips are great for switching off a bad mood, but for serious depression you should seek out the help of a trained mental health professional. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also visit their site.