In this post I’ll be talking about
- My personal strategy to overcome a depressive mood, depending on different energy levels
It’s hard to remember a time in my life when I lived completely depression-free, or didn’t experience great variation in mood and energy levels. And I don’t remember either to be taught in school how to overcome a depressive mood.
Since I remember myself as a person, I remember being curious about the meaning of life. And naturally falling into deep sadness about the harder aspects of existence. Something I would say quite natural in a society that’s so disconnected from its essence, and with poor mental health.
At the same time as having a deep appreciation for the beauty of life, the contemplation of death always seemed to me to be somewhat romantic. And just as important as the contemplation of life.
But while experiencing a wide range of emotions is a healthy part of being alive, spiralling down in depressive moods certainly isn’t the kind of fun to dwell in for long.
If you’re not diagnosed with depression but you still find yourself now and then in a state of hopelessness, lacking the energy for anything else than crying, this might be a useful post for you.
BUT PLEASE NOTE: If you have been experiencing a depressive mood for more than a week, please seek professional help. It is possible to turn your life around even if it feels impossible or unbearable right now. Just seek help. All it takes is one single step. Google search.
If you have ups and downs, here are some tips that work for me. This is how I overcome a depressive mood, on those days when I wish the most absurd things and think the most absurd thoughts.
At least, that’s how I experience depression these days. My rational, optimistic self transforms into a complete hopeless pessimistic. As if two completely different philosophers were living inside of me, and showed up at different times without sitting for a chat.
Both, in fact, have very reasonable ideas, but, like Einstein said, ultimately: “I’d rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.”
So here’s what I do to overcome a depressive mood:
The deepest down. When the feeling is that all there’s left to do is to hide from life in bed and sleep the sorrows away.
1. Let it be
The most important difference between when I was clinically depressed vs. having a depressive mood, is the recognition that what I’m feeling is temporary.
Even if I have no idea of how or when that will happen, I just know I will feel happy and satisfied with life again.
2. Offer no resistance
If I feel like crying until my face is completely red and my nose is a snot tap, I do it. If it happens, I might well kneel and cry with my arms and face down on the floor. Or I may cry silently in bed, or while looking at the mirror. Whatever the urge, I ride the wave and let it pass through.
Never swim against the sea.
3. Test the waters & practice no judgment
Depending on the depth of my mood that day, I’ll find myself with some energy to go outside, take a bath, or put on some interesting video or film. That alone can take me out of the darkness.
But sometimes the cloud is so dark and dense that there seems to be no energy for anything else except to keep me afloat.
That’s when it’s important to make no judgments. It’s not about how low is the mood we feel, or how little we feel like we can do. It’s about being ok with whatever you’re feeling.
4. Take a sweet, long nap
In those cases where there’s not much energy or will power, I like to take a nap as soon as possible. Sometimes I wake up with a new disposition, sometimes I don’t. But my body and my brain appreciate the little break and the coziness of a safe place to rest for an hour or two.
5. A generous plate of yumminess
Food is medicine, and there’s an enormous healing power in a delicious and colorful plate of food. If there’s enough energy to do the cooking, even better. Then there’s the pleasure of also undertaking and accomplishing a project, and enjoying the result. Cooking it’s a win-win.
When you have slept and feel like now it’s time to do something, but you still lack the power to go outside and face the world.
6. Get rid of something
The mental impact of decluttering is no joke. It’s a simple, yet strongly symbolic, gesture. Determining what gets to stay and what needs to leave your life, creates a sense of control and change that’s significantly mood altering.
Even if just your bed, the bedside table, or the kitchen balcony. And one of my favourites when it comes to seeing things differently: clean windows!
No matter what you clean or organise, apply the power and creativity to transform some small section of your environment into a pleasant and organised space.
You’ll start to feel how much power you have to change other more significant areas of your life too. Believe me, tidying can be magic.
8. Self pampering
Take a long warm bath. Put on those beautiful clothes (or that freshly washed pyjama, and some new bed sheets). Get a new haircut, and treat your nails nicely. Yes, if you’re a man too, obviously.
All that self-love will remind you of how much you matter. And, if nothing else, will keep your attention well entertained while you keep your boat afloat and wait for the storm to pass.
While the most reasonable advice is to pay attention to all that’s good in your life at the moment, sometimes keeping our focus in the now may not be the most uplifting strategy when surfing down the depressive mood wave.
Thinking and planning or even talking about some exciting plans can take us a long way away from a depressive mood.
10. Paper and pen
Are the best friends to deal with a clouded mind. The simple act of writing down what’s happening, and what’s running through our mind, gives a new perspective things. That also helps to see what needs to be changed to make the situation better.
Having the time to reflect on what’s on your mind and transferring that information to a piece of paper is often an amazingly effective way to a clearer mind and overcome a depressive mood.
When you’re feeling like there’s a new spark growing in your and you want to channel that energy into something creative, or particularly nice.
11. Start a new project
Anything, preferably small. The start of a project is always an exciting time, and the perspective of walking a path from beginning to finish is an uplifting one.
When experiencing a low mood, it’s best to start with something small. Try a small DIY project, for example. That can give you a somewhat quick gratification once you manage to finish it in a short amount of time.
Leave the big projects for when you feel your energy stronger. They need a little more investment, persistence, and patience from you.
12. Finish an old project
If you have the habit of starting but not finishing your projects, take this time when you’re feeling low (on an upward direction), to get to work.
Put your hands on something that was once an exciting project, and needs some loving attention to finally come to life as a finished work.
It is gratifying to accomplishing something, no matter how small the accomplishment. It raises the levels of dopamine in your brain, which helps you to increase your energy and mood level. Even the smallest things can make you more confident about yourself, and the meaning of your life.
13. Plan a trip
You don’t need to plan to go to the Bahamas to overcome your depressive mood. Even a small trip to discover a new coffee shop or restaurant in your area can get you looking forward to something.
Invite a friend for that fika (the Swedish national coffee-time pride) you’ve been meaning to have or set up a lunch appointment. Having that marked down on your agenda is a sure way to make your week look a little brighter.
14. Help someone (or something)
It is well known that helping others boosts well-being, increasing our sense of purpose and meaning.
If you don’t have anyone around you in need of help (you can always look a little closer). Then you can apply this concept and energy into almost anything. Take for example, watering your plants. Or maybe replanting them into bigger vases. Or fixing something that’s broken and you’ve meant to fix for a long time.
15. Do some very comfortable yin yoga
There are dozens of YouTube videos you can choose from with nice yoga classes. Roll out your yoga mat, get some pillows, lit up some candles and give your self 45 minutes of gentle yin yoga stretching.
Your body and mind will love it, and your mood is 100% sure to be stretched out to a higher state, and a better mood.
16. Meditate for much longer than usual
Besides after waking up, the best time to meditate if after yoga. That’s when your mind has been calmed down by the postures, and your body has been comfortably stretched.
If you sit down then and give yourself the time to meditate, you’ll see that sitting in stillness can be a very comfortable place to be.
17. Drink hot chocolate
Here’s a super mood booster for when you feel you have the energy to do good things for yourself. You can try out to pump up the recipe and rejoice in the wonders of a delicious creamy cacao and what it does to your mood. Plus, it’s pretty much sugar-guilt free! Oh yeah.
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to overcome a funky mood. Navigating through a depressive states isn’t something strange or something to be worried about. We all have rainy days, and it’s just a part of being human.
But if you feel down regularly, and you’re more often in a state of hopelessness than you are able to see the good side of life, then I strongly recommend you to seek professional help.
Life is meant to be appreciated, and there is nothing that’s not changeable.
Even those things that are permanent can be experienced differently if we change the way we see and respond to them.
There’s always a way to overcome difficulties. But a funky mood makes it harder to see.
But ultimately, the time you’re spending on earth is not meant to be some kind of punishment. Your life is meant to be lived with joy and appreciation. You, like everyone else in this world, have a talent and purpose, and light that shines from within. Devote yourself to discovering it and you’ll soon find yourself living a life that makes you happy.
Until then, hot chocolate my friend!