4 Ways to Help Beat the Blues

Some days we feel flat for no obvious reason. And that’s OK. It’s impossible to feel happy and positive every day.

We all feel moody at times, it’s part and parcel of our emotional rhythm. If you find yourself suffering from a temporary case of the blues, here are four steps you can take.

1. Start moving.

Want an instant mood lift? Exercise can have an immediate impact on how you feel. While researchers aren’t sure exactly why it makes us feel better, exercise is believed to increase the brain chemical serotonin, which helps your brain regulate mood. It also boosts your level of natural mood lifting endorphins.

Exercise increases energy levels, limits the effect of stress on your brain, gives you a focused activity that helps you feel more in control, and helps with your sleep. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who don’t.

2. Head to a local park.

Nature can have a powerful effect on our mental state, says Dr Jason Strauss, instructor in psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. There’s a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety and depression. While exercising in nature brings double benefits, simply listening to natural sounds or looking at something pleasant like trees and greenery can distract your mind from negative thinking.

3. Challenge your thinking.

When you feel low you can tend to overthink. If you think that everything is going wrong, ask yourself if that’s really true, suggests psychologist Alice Boyes. It’s easy to feel that all you experience is bad luck, she says, but if you do a more honest analysis of what’s going wrong and what’s going right, you’ll see that the ratio of good to bad things in your life might be more 50:50 than 10:90.

4. Try something new.

Sometimes when we feel low, we’re simply bored with the same old activities, people, perspectives, and routines, says Boyes. If this rings true for you, try something new. It could be a visit to somewhere you’ve never been, or something as simple as a walk in a different area or cooking a new recipe.

Sometimes a low mood can signal a more serious medical condition such as depression. If you’re finding it hard to work, socialise or function, make sure you see your doctor or a healthcare professional.