When you are overwhelmed and struggling, it is possible to slip into feeling hopeless and wonder if it would be easier to just give up. Before you give into that dark thought, please consider the following questions and suggestions. As stress has increased in your life, you may have start to feel frazzled and self-care may be one of the last things on your mind. Everything seems worse when you are feeling frazzled. Take heart there may be some simple things that you can do to give yourself some relief. The following questions point to simple things that may have a bigger impact on how you are feeling than you would imagine.
Are you sleep-deprived?
Lack of sleep will definite affect your mood and ability to cope with even the simplest things. It is also one of those cyclical things where your mood affects your ability to sleep. To get your sleep back on track you might try a guided meditation intended to induce sleep, arrange for some respite, establish a healthy sleep routine and see your doctor if necessary.
Are you hangry (angry because you are hungry)? When did you last eat?
If it has been more than three hours since you last ate, pause and give your body something nourishing—protein, fruits, vegetables. You may find your mood improving.
Are you well hydrated?
Even mild dehydration can affect your mood, your energy level and your ability to think clearly. Thirst may be a factor if you are experiencing unexplained mood swings.
Have you moved your body recently?
Exercise releases endorphin and exercising regularly helps to boost your mood. Go for a walk, go to the gym or turn on some music and dance. Walking daily in sunlight is one of the best defenses against depression.
Are you showered and groomed?
A shower or soak in the tub may do more than clean your body. It may also help release tension and sooth you emotionally. Feeling clean and put together tends to be a mood booster.
Are you eating too much sugar and or processed foods like white breads, pastas, rice, or chips?
Eating more whole foods may significantly improve your mood and reduce your risk for depression. Experiment by eating some protein with each meal and eating a balanced diet including whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Have you smiled at someone today (including yourself)?
Especially if you do not feel like smiling; choosing to smile can boost your mood. Not only does your expression reflect your mood but the reverse is also true. When you choose to smile the feel good chemicals endorphins, serotonin and dopamine are released in your brain, naturally boosting your mood.
Have you hugged someone today? Or spent time with your pet?
If you do have someone to hug—hug them for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have a pet or someone to hug, consider visiting a local pet store or animal shelter. Somewhere that allows you to pet and spend time with an animal. Positive physical touch can increase your serotonin levels and elevate your mood.
Have you accomplished something today?
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation to put one foot in front of the other. Do it anyway. Stop right now and complete one small task. Focus only on the next 5 minutes. Clear off your desk or kitchen table, organize your sock drawer or clean the bathroom mirror. A sense of accomplishment, even for small things can help boost your mood.
Has your medication changed? Or have you missed a dose?
If you do not feel more settled in a couple of days see your doctor or psychiatrist. Be open with them about how you are feeling and any changes in medication, especially if what you have been doing varies from what was prescribed.
Do you have a counsellor? Have you seen your counsellor recently?
If you don’t have an appointment, make one. If you do have an appointment, hang on until you can talk things through with your therapist.