Feeling blue? These 12 little tricks will instantly boost your mood. In random order:
- Go for a walk. 30 minutes of walking every day is just as good as taking the antidepressant Zoloft for example, though the effect of the walking takes hold a little slower, in the end it seems to be just as effective. And there are no side effects, unless you’re wearing really bad shoes. Check out a more scientific article about this here.
- Give. I know, when you’re feeling blue you might be wondering why you are not being given to, but paradoxically, giving is a mood booster. Give to a cause, volunteer your time, give to a person in need, give attention to a friend who might be feeling even worse than you are. Helping someone else, helps uplift your mood. Everything in moderation of course, if you constantly overgive, you’ll end up feeling drained, then it’s time to voice your needs and stand up for them.
- Spend time with loved ones or at least with people who are fun to be around. It’s typical for people with depression to want to withdraw, but this is like heading back into a trap that will just make it worse. It will take a bigger effort than usually to drag yourself to good company while you’re in a slump, but once you get there, you’ll feel a lot better.
- Express yourself. Expression is a great antidote to depression. Get the moody stowaway out of your system in some creative way. Paint, write, sing along with some angry, upbeat or even a sad song. Venting is a good way to feel better. There are some theories that see depression basically as a form of repressed anger, so see if that could be true for you and vent the anger (as long as you don’t hurt anyone, of course, and that includes yourself).
- Keep a happiness stash on hand. What we mean by this: draw up a list for example with things you are proud of in your life, or happy memories, or people and events that you are grateful for. I keep mine in my wallet, it’s not bigger that the size of a business card, but when I look at it I get some instant endorphins.
- Hug. Hug humans. In the absence of humans, friendly cats and dogs will do. In the absence of good-natured cats and dogs, anything furry and breathing will do. Except cockroaches maybe. Wait, do those even breathe? Are those furry? Nevermind, over to number 7.
- Study a role model. Adopt someone you admire to emulate in time of need. It could be a famous person who’s gone through rough patches in life, but it really doesn’t have to be anyone famous, just someone you admire and who has overcome adversity. One that works for me is Abraham Lincoln, for example.
- Distract yourself. Now, don’t mean open the pantry and gorge yourself on five bags of potatoe chips washed down with a bottle of wine. Yes, that would qualify as distraction, but what we are aiming for is distraction that makes you feel better, not something that gives you a short-lived buzz to feel even worse after. Read a book you love. Do sudokos. Play chess. Watch one of your favorite movies. Don’t go binge watching series though. Remember, everything in moderation and we’re aiming for distraction, not escapist addiction. It can be a fine line to toe, but the trick is this: some nice distraction will make you feel energized or calm and focussed afterwards, addictive behaviour will inevitably lead to guilty feelings. Know the difference. Oh, and avoid social media, especially your newsfeed, we all know people habitually only post about the sunshine side of their lives. When you’re feeling down, the last thing you need is to be remembered about how everyone else is seemingly having the time of their lives. If you do go to social media, connect with a good friend in a one on one chat.
- Get a fun hobby. Become a beekeeper, join a wrestling team, collect something you like, set up a hobby project you can always turn to. Keep it separate from the rest of your life, it will act as refuge or shelter when a spell of the blues hits you.
- Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. If you get a kick out of staring at minitature aircraft or teddybears, or old lemonade glasses, or whatever, by all means, make them a part of your daily surroundings.
- Change your online passwords in happiness reminders. We all type in passwords constantly these days. What if instead of typing something fairly random 20 times a day, you would type in a reminder of what makes you happy? You’d be getting lots of reminders and it wouldn’t take you any extra effort.
- DECIDE how you want to feel before you start your day. So often we just wake up and let come what may. By consciously deciding how we are going to feel that day, we build the reflexes in our mind to deal with stuff that could otherwise throw us out of balance, and it will make us respond quicker to things that reinforce the mood we’ve chosen for ourselves.
I’m sure you have your own strategies to lift yourself up when you find yourself in a slump, we’d be happy to hear from you.