Before considering the actions you can take to lift your mood when you feel down, it is important to first recognise your emotions and be able to assess the cause. This is a measure of emotional intelligence. Being aware of and able to express your emotions is vital to your well-being.  

Is it immediately obvious what is causing you to feel down? You should take a few minutes first to reflect on what has brought you to this state. Often our present mood is stimulated by something that has happened in the past or something that might happen in the future. Ask yourself a series of questions to determine why you are feeling down:

  • Have you recently suffered a loss?
  • Has someone treated you badly?
  • Have you been overwhelmed by recent events?
  • Are you prone to hormonal mood swings?

And so on.

It might be the case that there is nothing obvious driving your mood. This can be confusing and frustrating. Make sure you are eating and drinking properly and getting enough sleep (about 8 hours a night is the recommended optimum amount for an adult human).

Seek professional advice if your mood has not altered after 2 weeks.

When your mood is low you might feel detached and withdrawn. To elevate your mood try to do something to stimulate your senses. You might find one or some of following activities helpful:

  1. Exercise:

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigour” Marcus Tullius Cicero

Exercise does not need to be strenuous. A brisk 20 minute walk outside will do. Sunlight, fresh air and connecting with the outside world can be very stimulating. Being mindful of all the sights, sounds and smells of nature can also be therapeutic. It makes us present and can divert our attention away from our dark mood.

The benefits of exercise on our physical bodies is well-documented. It is now known that it has many positive effects on our mental well-being too. Physical activity has been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety and stress [1]

It is a good habit to adopt regular exercise in your weekly routine, as physical activity has also been identified as a protective factor in studies that examined risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia. Studies show there is approximately a 20% to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity [2].

  • Music

“If music be the food of love, play on” Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

Music is a huge stimulus of our senses. It evokes memories and has the capacity to transport your mind back in time, whilst you remain firmly in the present.

According to music therapist Adam Sankowski of the Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts General Hospital, music provides an easy way to manage our feelings. Using brain-scanning technology, researchers can now see multiple parts of the brain light up when someone listens to music. Sankowski says “A basic guideline is to try to match the music to the mood that you want to have”. [3]

Create a playlist of your favourite tracks. Know the songs or pieces of music that lift you. When I need to feel more resilient, I put on “Titanium” by David Guetta ft. Sia and sing along at the top of my voice. A song that makes me feel blessed is Elbow’s “One Day Like This” and anything by Katy Perry or Pink gets me rocking. Find the music that has the same effect on you and have it on standby.

  • Affirmations

“A belief is only a thought that I continue to think” Abraham Hicks

Affirmations can be used to achieve a specific goal, or simply to encourage you to see your life more positively. By shifting your attention to the positive aspects of your life, you are immediately diverted from the negative. They are most beneficial to you if used daily.

Try creating a list of daily affirmations that would work for you. Even better, combine them with pictures and music. A few years ago my affirmations “movie” which I created using simple computer software, ended with the words “The best is yet to come” and a picture of the beach at Tulum in Mexico. Two years later I was on that beach revelling at the power of affirmations and the universe!

  • Laughter

“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine” Lord Byron

It is well-documented that laughter is good for you. When we are children we laugh frequently and on impulse. As adults, we are more serious and controlled, and therefore laughter is more irregular. By seeking out opportunities to laugh more, you can improve your emotional health and find greater happiness.

Laughter really is the best medicine. There are so many benefits. It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells, improving your resistance to disease. It triggers the release of endorphins, which promote an overall sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain. It improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which helps to prevent heart disease. It eases anxiety and tension, strengthens resilience and helps defuse anger.

Try putting on your favourite funny movie or sitcom when you are feeling down. Resist the urge not to laugh when something funny happens. Lose yourself in the storyline.

I try to belly laugh at least once a day. I have a dog, so I don’t have to try too hard!

  • Scent

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived” Helen Keller

Have you ever noticed when you apply sunscreen for the first time in a while it reminds you of holidays? Smell is very evocative. It can remind you of a time in your life, or of a person, or of a particular vacation. If you want to divert your attention from a low mood, I would recommend seeking out a scent that will lift you. It might be a favourite perfume or body lotion, a fruity shampoo or a bath oil. Use the scent to remind yourself of the good times, really immerse yourself in the memory and just as the scent is still with you, the good times will return too.

Finally, remember that every day is a gift and a chance to wipe the slate clean. There is no need to carry over the worries of yesterday. Cut yourself some slack and allow the best feeling thoughts to permeate your body and soul.

[1] Salmon, P. (2001) Effects of Physical Activity on Anxiety, Depression and Sensitivity to Stress: A Unifying Theory. Clinical Psychology Review 21(1) 33-61  

[2] Department of Health PA, Health Improvement and Protection (2011). Start Active, Stay Active: A report on physical activity from the four home countries’ Chief Medical Officers. London: Department of Health

[3] The Guardian online (06-02-2018) reported by Dominic Utton

Categories: Well being