What To Do When You're Feeling Down
by Cheryl Rainfield, the award-winning author of STAINED, SCARS, and HUNTED, 2003
Depression can be debilitating, and painful to endure. Once depressed, it is easy to keep spiraling further down. But there are many things that can help when you’re feeling down, even if only a little—and a little may be all you need to shift into a better place.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Pay attention to how much you’re doing—the tasks you give yourself, the work you have to get done, the energy you give to others—and set aside some time that is just for yourself.
- Put some uplifting essential oils on your face, chest, neck, wrists, and arms. Some uplifting essential oils are bergamot, geranium, basil, grapefruit, orange, and any other citrus essential oil.
- Write about what is bothering you. Go as deep as you can. When you’re finished, get rid of the paper. Mail it to someone who will listen. Burn it. Fold it up and put it somewhere else. Imagine as you do this that you are letting go of everything that was bothering you.
- Get some distance from the painful emotion using this technique: Name the feeling—depression, or hopelessness, or whatever the feeling is. Picture the feeling in your mind as a word or image, and, while naming it, take a step back from it in your mind. Then do that again—name the feeling, and take another step back. You may want to visualize yourself actually stepping back from the emotion. Do this until you feel some relief from the emotion.
- Connect with another person. Call up a friend, your partner. Make a plan to meet them for coffee, for lunch. Ask for a hug. Tell them about whatever is bothering you—or listen to what is bothering them. Or go for laughter and fun, whichever feels better. Sometimes just connecting with someone you care about is enough.
- Go someplace different from where you are right now; physically change your environment. If you’re indoors, go outdoors. If you’re outdoors, go indoors. Take a walk. Go for a drive. Get yourself out. Sometimes changing your physical location can create a shift in mood.
- Play some uplifting or comforting music. Let the sound envelop you. Move with the music or sing along.
- Let go of some responsibility, or whatever it is that is weighing you down. Give yourself permission to not deal with it or to not think about it for the next hour, the next day, the next week. Give yourself permission to relax.
- Give yourself a treat. Buy yourself something small, read that magazine you’ve been waiting to read, watch that show or movie that you’ve been wanting to watch.
- Eat a food that gives you comfort, or that brings back that feeling of childhood safety.
- Take a nap break. Curl up under a soft blanket, and let yourself take a break from the world.
- Get a hug or a long embrace. Hugs, and good safe touch, are an important part of feeling loved and lovable, happy and healthy.
- When you’re in a good emotional space, make a list of things that make you feel good or happy—taking a walk through the trees, sitting near the water, taking a warm shower, playing cards with a friend, reading a good book. Then go through that list when you need to.
- Find something that makes you laugh. Do you have a comedy show or movie you like? Is there a cartoon strip or joke site that makes you grin? A book that makes you laugh out loud? How about a game that can make you giggle? Laughter can bring an upsurge of happiness.
- Write out positive, loving messages to yourself. Read them over many times, and try to let the messages in.
- Allow yourself to let go of the hard feelings for now. You may think you have to stay in that place, or that you’d be disloyal to the part of you that feels this way. Or you may find that depression or pain is something you feel more comfortable with because you’ve known it for so long. You can always come back to these feelings if you need to explore them some more, or learn from them. It’s healthy and healing to let these feelings fade into the background, so you can take a break from them, and find some comfort.
- Ask yourself what you need. Often we have the answers right inside us.
Even if you don’t think you have the energy to do any of these things, pick a few that appeal to you the most, and try them out. You may find they help you shift into a lighter mood. Even if the shift is a small one, or only lasts for a short while, it can make it that much easier to get back to that lighter place next time. And if you turn to such methods often enough, you may find they become habit—finding your way back to a place that feels good.
©Cheryl Rainfield, 2003
Written by Cheryl Rainfield, award-winning author of SCARS, STAINED, and HUNTED
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