Yes, the gloom. It can come on slow and subtle, trickling in like a low fog. Or it can just show up one day, like it’s returned home from vacation, and you’re left wondering if there ever was a time you had a personality.. All around, it’s hard to deal with. It’s hard to get out of bed, hard to see the interest in small-talk, hard to be optimistic about much at all, hard to focus or find motivation, this gloom tends to taint any sort of average functioning a day in the life of a human requires..but, my loves, this doesn’t mean we are doomed for gloom!
Read on for 9 ways I turn the doom back on my gloom!
- Breathe deeply – Slowing your breathing can slow everything down- your heart rate, racing thoughts, shaking hands. Breathing slower has a physiological affect on your body. It will send calming signals to your brain which sends signals to slow down your heart rate, release tension and relax. It makes your body more at ease and you no longer feel that innate fight or flight mode. All of these changes reduce stress and anxiety, and when you pay attention, you’ll realize how often we breath with rapid, shallow breaths- just adding to our stress!
- Practice yoga and meditation – Learning to consciously breath deep and calm yourself is even easier when you practice yoga or meditation. These practices bring you through the process of releasing thoughts and tension, clearing your mind, and relaxing. Many people suffering from anxiety explain that breathing deeply often sends them into higher anxiety or panic mode, because they realize they’ve lost control and the situation must be dire if they’re having to calm down with breathing exercises.. This is where meditation and yoga shine. Learning to calm your mind and release racing/unhealthy thoughts while you’re breathing is what yoga and meditation practices walk you through. It can be uncomfortable at first, because we aren’t used to focusing and relaxing our minds or holding stillness with our bodies. But trust the process and keep with it! Once you get the hang of it, the positive benefits keep on coming! When your racing anxious thoughts threaten to send you downward spiraling into gloom, relaxing and taking control of your thoughts is much easier to do if you practice yoga and meditation, because you will have a process to refer to that you are comfortable and familiar with. Think of it as a safety net or first-aid kit.
- Get up and move – It’s hard not to sit in despair and become more and more immobile when you feel like this. But completing one small task at a time will give you momentum. Clearing your mind of negative thoughts and focusing on the small tasks you are completing (putting your feet on the floor, making your bed, putting toothpaste on your brush, pouring a glass of water, stepping outside for some deep breaths of fresh air) can be a mental restart for your morning. Moving your body gets your blood flowing, awakening your brain and making the day a little less intimidating.
- Remind yourself that certain times of day are worse than others and that it isn’t always this bad – It’s going to be hard to accept in the moment, but you have to trust that certain times of day you are just more susceptible to feeling down and that your life doesn’t always feel this bad.. Early mornings and nighttime is the worst for me. I tend to be more tired during these times and it’s easier to feel either defeated or demotivated by the day. I have to remember that once I’m at work or talking to people I am happier, less gloomy, and more alert. Throughout the day when you’re feeling exceptionally happy or light, bookmark those moments in your mind to come back to and remember when you’re feeling gloomy. Reminding yourself that it isn’t always so hard sparks some hope, and helps to get up and going.
- Bach flower essences – I learned this from one of my favorite holistic healers, Carina Hart (follow her on Instagram)! I drop a couple drops of Mustard flower essence on my tongue and I honestly feel a little pickup. It’s not stark like coffee, but caffeine can easily spark anxiety or send you crashing when it begins to wear off. Though coffee has it’s benefits, it’s not the answer to my gloomy days. The flower essence is a gentle nudge in the right direction without the side effects soo many drugs have (including caffeine). A gentle nudge is often all you need to get rolling into a positive, productive day.
- Pull out my light box – Sometimes I know it’s because of the weather if it’s been gloomy, snowing, overcast, or rainy for days on end. I know my body needs sunlight and a good dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D pills never helped me long-term, but the light box, many times, does the trick. I also know I’m super sensitive to the weather, so even on the first day of rainy weather, if it’s dark and overcast I’ll still pull out my box and reap the benefits of bright light.
- Have a spiritual outlet – When I’m alone in quiet. That’s when it all comes rushing in- not having more money, not getting that job, not having a significant other, not living up to my own expectations, not fulfilling that dream, dropping the ball on that goal, not looking like her, not showing grace and love to that person when we argued. But this time is also the perfect time to reach out in prayer, to realize I can’t go it alone, to know that there’s a plan for me and it’s my job to have faith and keep going and fulfill that plan, to know that I am loved beyond any love I can even comprehend. It’s enough to keep going. Far more than enough! There is so much wisdom, direction, and love in Christianity. Before coming to religion a few years ago, I hadn’t realized how supportive faith could be, especially at times when you’ve hit rock-bottom and it seems there’s nothing you can find hope in. It gave me faith in a bigger plan for my life when I saw nothing I had worked for pan out. It was a listening ear and loving embrace when others had a hard time understanding. It has directed me in recent years of big changes and life decisions when I didn’t know which way to go. It has been a restoration of love, patience, and gentleness in the midst of my anger and pain. Spirituality is a life-saver and well worth your attention!
- Eat something healthy – I don’t like to encourage eating as a way to feel better, because that can turn into a habit that’s hard to break, but eating something healthy (like an apple, some carrots, or a smoothie) can really turn you around if it’s what you need. Have you noticed when you eat a salad (not one drenched in ranch, but a real, colorful, crunchy salad) you feel lighter, happier, healthy, fueled? Many times when your body recognizes good whole fuel you start to feel better, more grounded and hopeful. Not the greasy, sluggish feeling you get after eating fries, potato chips or ice cream. You know the difference. And you’ll begin to recognize when your body needs certain foods. Try that next time!
- Talk to someone who understands – Talking to someone helps, but many times they don’t know exactly how you’re feeling and it’s hard for them to say the right thing or to empathize with you in the right way. Sometimes I feel worse, because they don’t know what to say and I’ve put them in this awkward situation where they have to try to make me feel better. It’s hard to rely on someone for this. Especially if it happens often. When you need to reach out, don’t hesitate. Having someone who knows you well, who will answer and be a listening ear when you need it is a great idea! But practicing some of these other steps might be more beneficial and long-term solutions to helping yourself stay on a positive track! I’ve learned when I’m having a rough day I can remind myself in each little defeat that God has a plan for my life and there’s a reason for all this, so that the little defeats don’t build up to a complete shut-down later that night. Eating healthy and exercising regularly also helps me think more positively altogether.
- Cardio! – I get it. This is probably the last thing you’re going to want to do when you feel like this. I tend to know when I need to go for a run and my body is tense, anxious, uptight, drudged down, just overall crummy feeling..I know it’s been too long and I need to go for a good cleansing run to flush all of that out. It’s so hard to get going when you’re in gloom, but eventually I face up and tell myself to “just go for twenty minutes. you can walk as often as you need.” And once I’m out there I just don’t want to stop! Endorphins are releasing, I’m out breathing the fresh air, in the sun getting my vitamin D, seeing all the imagery nature provides to calm, relax and delight us, listening to the happy birds, children laughing or some good tunes. I’m breathing deep, moving my body, feeling my own strength, feeling my muscles warm up and shake out, feeling pride in my body for being able to carry me like this. It’s so many good things! I never regret it. Especially when I don’t judge myself for how well I do or how far I go- that’s when I feel the most benefits..and want to go again and again!