Please note, this blog does not address clinical depression or anxiety, disorders which may create more extreme changes in mood and negatively affect feelings of well-being. Managing a mood disorder is not as simple as managing the usual ups and downs most people experience and may require medical intervention. However, some of the suggestions in this blog would be helpful for those with mild depression and/or anxiety.
Some days we wake up feeling great and don’t know why, other days we wake up in a low mood with or without consciousness of the reason. What most of us didn’t learn in childhood is that ups and downs are not always related to problems or something you did to cause them. It’s okay to let a slump run its course, especially when we need a break from our own striving or when too many real problems pile on at the same time. Attempts to suppress and analyze bad feelings can sometimes make us feel worse.
The need to be proactive arises in times when we just want to feel good and don’t know how to get there. I confess that am just as confused by my high energy, optimistic days as I am by my slumps. We are not always aware of how we feel or why we feel happy or sad, frustrated, lonely, guilty, or just overly sensitive. I often hear clients say “I’m having a bad day” followed by a list of the terrible things (which individually are really not that terrible) that happened, in an effort to try to explain away their low mood. It doesn’t help to pile them up and vent.
The fact is, every day has its good moments and unfortunate glitches, but sometimes we only see the negative and start to collect it throughout a day or week or month. The question of why we feel this way is not as important as how we can change our emotional state when we cannot simply fix a problem of which we are aware. If you want to feel better, there are many things that can help.
Through work with clients and my own life experiences I have learned that I do have some power over my moods beyond the “snap out of it” and “don’t feel that way” approach often heard from well meaning parents and friends. It takes a little time and effort, but with practice, we can get better at identifying, accepting, and yes – managing our own feelings.
The most likely causes of feeling low are physical; not enough sleep, low blood sugar, or the need for exercise. It could also be stress, lack of fun, need for human contact, lack of choices, or worries about other people. It is also important to recognize that when you focus for too long on what you don’t like about someone or something, you are guaranteed to end up with a low mood and find yourself attracting bad feelings like a magnet.
First of all, remember there is probably nothing wrong with you except that you are human and this is what human beings experience. No one is happy and energetic all of the time. It is ok to allow yourself to feel down, but if you want to feel better, these things may help:
With some effort, it is very likely that you will begin to feel better and several outcomes are possible: