Dealing with low mood: What can help?
We can all experience ups and downs in our lives; it is a natural and normal response to all the different events we are continuously exposed to. A difficult childhood, bereavement, bullying, illness, and relationship problems are just some of the reasons why we can feel hopeless and in low spirits. Actually, some people find it difficult to identify a specific trigger; being either unaware of it or having more than one direct link to their low mood.
Is there a difference between low mood and clinical depression?
Like many other psychological difficulties, low mood and depression range from a general sadness to a serious long-term condition that can even affect the body.
A general low mood can be also accompanied by:
- low self-esteem
- frustration and anger
Usually, a low mood doesn’t last long and will have a tendency to improve after a few days. When a low mood doesn't go away and lasts for months, this could be a sign of depression. The symptoms mentioned above might become more present and intense and one can also experience:
- tearfulness (also sudden, for no apparent reason)
- intolerance of others
- lack of motivation or interest in things
- not getting enjoyment/pleasure out of life
- suicidal thoughts.
Depression can be successfully treated especially if one seeks for help as soon as possible. However, there are some self-help tools to be used when a low mood is not a proper clinical condition but a temporary state of mind.
What can help a low mood?
The first basic rule when your mood is low is trying to re-establish a structure that has been temporarily lost. Therefore it is important to try to have a simple daily routine. The following actions can be useful to manage and better deal with a temporary lack of motivation and sadness:
- Getting out of bed, having a shower, and wearing comfortable clothes - even if one does not have any intention of going out.
- Set up a very simple, achievable goal for the day. It can be as simple as watching a movie, preparing a meal, or taking care of something in the house.
- Try to have regular meals and avoid junk food. In fact, skipping meals and/or comfort eating creates a vicious cycle that increases low self-esteem and a sense of being worthless.
- Think about making a small change. It could be resolving a difficult situation, starting something new, or doing something one has never done before. Again, it doesn’t need to be complicated - you could buy a new plant, go to a new coffee shop etc.
- Talking about your worries with someone else can simply give you a new perspective.
- Getting enough rest and sleep can improve your mood as well as physical exercise. Regular walking has proved to be very helpful for people experiencing low moods.
- Breathing exercises, progressive muscular relaxation and guided mindfulness meditation are just some of the very beneficial tools easily available online and for free.
If your low mood persists, you may benefit from talking to a counsellor or therapist. They will listen to your thoughts and feelings in a safe, non-judgmental space and try to help you understand why you may be experiencing a low mood, and guide you on how you can work to overcome it.