Moods are not static so it’s normal, from time to time, to feel sad or down. If heeded, these states can bring about increased self-awareness and wisdom, allowing for potentially needed changes in your life. Sometimes sadness can be a signal that you need to grieve a loss or that a healing of some type is required. The body has a naturally intuitive way of knowing what it needs to heal and grow.
Sometimes prolonged sadness can lead to depression which can be painful. At times, medication might be helpful, at other times not. In any case there are some simple, but profoundly effective, strategies to care for yourself when you are feeling down that can dramatically impact your experience of your sad mood. Below are a few suggestions:
Mindfully observe your mood, noting its message: Take time to sit with your feelings, allow them to be as they are without willing them to be different or not there. This can be challenging, of course, but can be tremendously beneficial. In Thomas Moore’s “Care of the Soul”, he writes a chapter on “The Gifts of Depression” where he suggests that depression is a message from your inner self (in this particular case, your soul); pointing you in the direction of where things are not aligning according to your soul’s plan. Whether the message of your depression is from your spiritual, emotional or physical self, listening to this message will allow you the opportunity to make adjustments in your life, as needed, which can dramatically impact your mood. If your mood had a voice, what need would it be expressing ?
Note what makes your mood better, worse: Are there things that you are doing that lessen your symptoms of depression? Are there things that make it worse? No one is ever 100% anything including depressed. Knowing when you are feeling better and what you are doing (differently) at those times can help you modify your habits to reduce your symptoms. It’s also empowering to recognize that you can play a pivotal role in enhancing your mood. Taking 10 minutes at the end of each day to rate your mood and what things impacted it positively, can help you keep track of exactly what types of things are helpful in making you feel better.
Get moving: The opposite of depression is not happiness, it’s wellbeing and having energy. People can become lethargic, finding themselves wanting to do less and less when depressed. Increased isolation feeds the other symptoms of depression. As hard as it is, it’s extremely important to physically move each day. Walk or bike to work, if possible, or go out at lunch to do these activities. Join a class at a gym (bring a friend for added motivation) or consider yoga. The type of movement is not as important as the fact that you need to do this each day; preferably for 20-30 minutes. You’ll be surprised and how good you will feel for having done these activities – and your self-esteem will get a boost in the process as you are practicing good self care!
If you feel you can use some support in working through your symptoms of depression, I would be happy to meet with you. Together we will create a plan specific to your needs, aimed at improving your overall emotional wellbeing.