The Holidays can be a wonderful time, but for many it’s not. And let’s face it. We all have down days – Holidays or not. In fact, I wrote out these tips during a down weekend, and just focusing on them and writing them out helped a lot. So, today I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks for dealing with those not so great days where you’re just feeling down and can’t seem to shrug off the blues. Quick and necessary disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor, therapist or any other type of professional. These are just tips that have worked for me in the past, as well as things that have been recommended to me by many a professional. In other words, this is absolutely NOT meant as a substitute for professional help should the Holiday funk be a bit more than just a day here and there. In the same vein, if you have been experiencing bouts of depression, anxiety, extreme stress, or any kind of lingering or debilitating mood issues, please do not hesitate to seek professional help. And things WILL get better. For those of you just having a more manageable rough patch here and there, these are some of the best tips I have personally used for dealing with the temporary blues.
First and foremost, allow yourself to feel it but recognize it for what it is. Identify the issue – are you sad and can you determine the reason for it? Is stress getting to you? What’s causing you the most stress? You get the idea. Don’t push these emotions to the side, but try to focus on ways to improve things instead of wallowing in the negative emotions.
One great thing to try when you’re having a down moment is to do something physical. Go for a walk, get in a workout, play your favorite sport. Getting that blood pumping and the endorphins rushing will usually brighten a mood. At a minimum, it can temporarily distract you and prevent dwelling on the sad feelings that may be beyond your control.
Having burned a few more calories – or even if you haven’t – treat yourself to a special food or beverage that you really enjoy but don’t often indulge in. Whether that’s something fancy from Starbucks, chowing down on a beautiful cupcake, or snacking on a bag of potato chips. It doesn’t really matter. It’s more about making the effort to do something special for you as a reminder that you are special and you deserve a treat once in a while. Just don’t overdo it as too much indulgence may very well make you feel worse in the long run.
In a similar vein, make time for yourself and do something that you enjoy. Bake cookies, indulge in a long bath, sleep in on the weekend, go shopping (but be careful not to spend money you don’t have), watch your favorite movie over and over again, listen to that song everyone else hates on repeat…you get the idea. I feel like especially around the Holidays we all tend to ignore ourselves. Just taking a few minutes to do something you enjoy – whether anyone else does or not – is always important, but seems to be one of the first things we often forget to do this time of year and can really brighten ones spirits.
For some people being more productive in some fashion may be the key to a better mood. Tackle an item on your To Do list, organize your closet, rearrange your furniture. Here you’re often moving around a bit instead of moping on the couch so we’re back to getting the blood flowing benefit and again, just doing something will likely make you feel a bit better. Plus you may have tackled that thing you keep meaning to do and just never get to. That’s a great feeling in itself.
Most people when they’re feeling down have a tendency to isolate themselves a bit. Make an effort to just talk to someone. Whether it’s a professional, a friend, Facebook or Twitter pals, or even a stranger who looks lonely on a park bench, just talking – about anything for that matter – can brighten the spirits. You may even find yourself making a new friend or finding a new interest the two of you didn’t realize that you have in common!
Not ready to talk yet? Just get out with the public! Maybe it’s as simple as your weekly grocery shop. Maybe you treat yourself to dinner or actually sit down at your local coffee shop while enjoying that hot chocolate. Try simply walking the streets around town (assuming there are at least a few others doing the same). Just being around other people has benefits whether you interact with them or not. Plus you’re changing your surroundings which can be helpful when you’re feeling those winter blues.
If you just can’t muster the ability to try some of these other options, think about ways that you might be able to solve or improve a problem or issue that’s bothering you…assuming it’s identifiable. If there is a way within your power to improve a situation, taking action will almost certainly help. If you deem the issue is out of your control, do the things you can to improve things, but try not to worry about the things you cannot. Easier said than done, but focusing on the things you are capable of doing and not dwelling on those beyond your control may help you to better cope with your worries.
This may be the most difficult to do when you’re feeling down, but try to focus on the positive in life. Things may feel crappy at the moment, but don’t lose sight of all the wonderful things about yourself, your life, or even just the world in general. No matter how awful things seem, there is still always good to be found somewhere. Think of Anne Frank…Google some of her quotes or other inspiration quotes for that matter…. Even in the darkest of dark places, there is still something good to be found somewhere if you’re willing to try. I’m not suggesting that it’s always easy to find, but there are plenty of things to be grateful or happy about. If you’re someone who has kept a gratitude journal or something of the sort, look back at it. If you don’t have anything like that, consider starting one. Focusing on the positive in life is not only great in the moment, but can be a wonderful pick me up when things feel particularly bleak.
Last but not least, don’t expect that things will feel better overnight. If they do, fantastic! If not, just keep trying to do things that make a difficult time feel a little bit better. Most things don’t change overnight, but clichéd as it may be, in time you will feel better. That said, if you just can’t shake the blues, please do not hesitate to talk to a professional about it. Sometimes just having someone there to listen may be enough, but if it’s not, only a professional can truly help you tackle your troubles – be it with some form of therapy or even medication. You can and will feel better. It may take time, but there is help out there and there are brighter days to come.
I hope for any of you struggling right now that your mood improves soon. Please know that you are not alone and that people do care. I am one of them. Hopefully something I’ve mentioned has either helped a bit or sparked another idea that is even more appropriate for your situation. If you have any other tips for getting out of a funk, please leave it as a comment as it may help someone else…which actually is another great tip when dealing with a rough time. Helping someone else by taking a frozen meal to a sick neighbor or even just opening a door for someone who has their hands full may not only help that person, but might just improve your mood a bit as well. Sending lots of love and hugs to all of you out there – whether you have the blues or not. Thank you as always for stopping by and here’s to beating the winter blues!!!