Sometimes I feel like I’m barely able to swim against the feelings that are pulling at my feet, trying to drag me under the waves. I fear the moment I’m pulled under, because it’s so difficult to kick back up for air. Once it’s begun to pull me down, I feel the fingers of a low mood wrap tightly around my ankles and continue to pull me down until I cannot stay above it all. I’m yanked down and everything is dark. My chest feels heavy and tight, and I feel suffocated by the thoughts in my head screaming at me. I just want to close my eyes and let it all wash over me until I become numb and can’t feel anything anymore. It’s easier to succumb to the darkness than to fight it at this point, and this is where we get stuck.
I’ve struggled to stay afloat for most of my life. When I was younger I would cry for no reason, and I remember my parents asking me what was wrong. I could never find a reason for my sadness, just that I felt sad.
I know what it feels like to not want to get out of bed for days, and a whole month at one point. To have no appetite, and contrastingly to feel that food is the answer. To succumb to alcohol and even Xanax at one point to block out the feelings that were there as soon as I opened my eyes each day. The weight of depression can be crushing, quite literally feel like it’s squeezing the very life within you and you can no longer think with clarity. There seems to be no sunlight even on the clearest day, and there seems to be no solution.
Depression comes in different forms and for many different reasons, I personally never liked to be medicated with antidepressants, I found they just made me feel more numb and part of my sadness was caused by the inability to feel. So I was forced to find a holistic solution, I made a list years ago that I try to abide by. A list of all the things I need to do each day so I stay out of the clutches of depression. Some days I fail, for no reason at all, I’m overcome with sadness. I guess this is ok, I reassess if I’ve been sticking to my guidelines to avoid these low moods and I implement some changes.
I’ve lost friends, missed experiences, lost lovers, and lost days and weeks of my life because of low moods. My list has helped pull me out of the waters and enjoy days, weeks and even months without sadness. I hope something on this list can help you too, if you are still reading it’s because you want help. I must insist, if you are feeling that you want to end your life, please seek immediate help from one of the helplines I’ve listed below, if your sadness is ongoing for no reason and lasts weeks or months then seek medical help.
As I said, there are many different forms of depression and the reasoning behind each form is complex and unique to individuals. I am not a professional counsellor, nor should any of this be taken as medical expertise. This is based on my experiences and ways I have found that help me, I hope they can help you too. For Day to Day help to manage your feelings, keep reading.
You’ve heard this one before, exercise is a warrior against negative feelings and emotions, so combat the low mood before it starts by adding even minimal excercise to your day. I love yoga, it combines physical excercise and meditation. The deep breathing will immediately soothe your soul and the physicality of it will release all those great endorphins that are so important for our mood. Even taking a short walk outside will boost your mood. There are so many forms of excercise, not everyone needs to run a marathon, find what works for you and something you can stick to. Make excercise a habit.
Get enough zzzzz’s
But not too many. I slept for 4 days once… or twice. It was a long time ago and was not a natural exhausted sleep, it was assisted by Xanax. In hindsight what was I thinking? Research suggests 7-9 hours sleep per night, no more, no less. If I have not slept enough I have less mental strength to combat negative thinking. If I have had too much sleep I just feel drowsy and like I’ve wasted the day. Give yourself the best chance and start tracking your sleep time. Create a bedtime and stick to it as best you can. Check out these other helpful daily habits.
Eat Healthy and Skip the booze
This is a no brainer, but firstly what is eating healthy? We can get carried away if we think too much about this question but there are a few obvious choices we can make to help steady our blood sugar levels and our mood. Try avoiding sugar, that chocolate bar or tub of ice cream may feel great short term but stop for a moment to consider how you will feel later. Not only will you have a spike from the sugar that then journeys into an energy crash, but will you regret eating those empty calories, only making yourself even more unhappy? Eat more veggies and natural foods, we all know the basics, I don’t need to list them here.
Remember that what you feed your body, quite literally fuels your cells.I am currently studying nutritional therapy and plan to post about some of my learnings, so make sure you subscribe in the footer of this post so you don’t miss those articles!
Skipping the booze… Drowning our sorrows in a bottle of wine may sound like a good idea, but again, take a moment and think about how you’ll feel later on, or in the morning. For me, alcohol is a massive downer. Almost instaneously. Some of my friends know this about me and accept that I’m a lightweight, I’m not. I just know that after 3 drinks, the blues begin. Alcohol makes it easier to spiral into negative thinking, if you are feeling depressed. Skip it completely. Have a cup of fruit tea or sparkling water as an alternative.
This was a huge breakthrough for me. A friend of mine had to explain it to me and the concept literally changed my life, not instantly but as I gradually began to recognize what was happening. I hope I can do the concept justice in sharing it with you. Firstly, the word ‘Depressed’ has extremely negative connotations surrounding it. I have replaced this word with the language of ‘low mood.’ This seems like a more appropriate way to explain our feelings and mood. As if it is on a scale.
Additionally, we tend to use the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ quite frequently during negative self talk. Try as best you can to monitor and notice when you use these words and replace them with ‘sometimes’ or ‘occassionally’. These words are much more truthful, as how often is the word ‘always’ or ‘never’ the actual truth? Question your thoughts. They can be your best friend or worst enemy. More ways to tackle negative thinking here.
Check in with the Network
We all need close people in our lives that we can complain and vent to. Make sure you have a small circle of people that are there for you and use them to speak to. It’s possible you may benefit from professional counselling too. Don’t discard it until you try it, it can save friendships and all types of relationships.
Sometimes all we need is to just see a friendly face or hear a friendly voice. If you are feeling low, pick up the phone and make a plan to see a friend or family member. Make sure you are there for them too, often being able to provide support for someone can help us feel better about ourselves. It may seem easier to stay home alone, avoid this. Invite a friend over or get up, get dressed and go out and see someone. You will thank yourself for it later.
If you are ever feeling in a low mood, try this: make a list of as many things as necessary (at least 5), that you are grateful for. It could be as simple as your eyes so that you can see, your taste buds so you can taste, your legs so you can walk… you get the idea. Often when we are down, we compare our situation to other peoples, usually on some version of social media. Consciously we know that social media is a highlight reel of peoples lives (our own included) and not a true view of someones life. However, when we are already low and see posts about fabulous things online, of course it gets to us. The solution here is to avoid comparing yourself to people who (supposedly) have a better life than you, and try comparing yourself to those less fortunate.
I was in an awful mood taking the tube through rush hour London to work one day, when I saw a blind man trying to exit the same stop as me. He was handling the escalators, corridors and crowds like a pro, and seeing him made me realise that my morning was not so bad after all. That is a tiny example of what you could compare yourself to. Most likely, you are more healthy and in a better situation than the majority of people in the world. We just need to remind ourselves to not get hung up on the small things. They are just that. Small things. Check out this article on Comparison.
5, 4, 3 , 2 , 1… go!
Mel Robbins wrote a whole book on the 5 second rule and how procrastination is a valid response. But an ineffective one. Every moment you are 5 seconds away from making a decision. If you are in a low mood and contemplating whether or not to cook some food. Go for a walk, or to get that work done. Count down from 5 and make the decision to do it. My partner realises I struggle with procrastination and if he sees me stuck, he counts out loud for me. Some people may find this rude but he is helping me. I realise that he’s noticed my issue, and his verbalised counting, gets me moving. Try it, and check out Mel’s book here.
This list is not exhaustive and by no means is to replace medical assistance or advice. However I do hope this article has given you a little insight into one persons battle with low moods. I hope that at least one of these points can help you. Depression is a serious condition that many of us battle. Please know that there are people you can talk to. Here are a few hotlines where you can seek immediate assistance:
UK Samaritans 116 123
US Samaritans (212) 673-3000
Australa Lifeline 13 11 14
How do you battle low moods? Please share in the comments below.
Love and Light