Some days we just feel flat.
It seems like everything we do demands more of an effort. Our body feels heavy and mind equally as dull.
This slump in emotional energy is called the blues. It’s different to a clinical depression, where we plummet to the bottom and feel like the sun will never shine again. For most of us the blues are a transitory stage before we resurface as our happier self.
Sometimes there are physiological reasons for hitting these mood bumps. Tiredness, lack of sleep or being too busy to have fun can swiftly turn from a physical slump into an emotional one. Fighting a virus will often hijack our mood, just at the point where we start to feel physically better. Eating too many processed, nutritionally empty foods can also impact on our mind as well as body.
But even when we’re in top physical condition, an emotional set back can still knock our mood. A bad news day, when plans fall through or there is a relationship upset, can open the door to the blues.
If these flat spots sound familiar, now’s the time to create your own bounce back plan.
Put together your bounce back plan on a day you feel happy and rested, so that there’s minimal effort required when your spirits need a lift.
Create a bounce back plan
Make a list of things that nourish, energise or amuse you. Keep this list somewhere that’s easy to find. It might be a handwritten list kept on the fridge, a note on your smart phone, a file on your computer, or an email to a friend who knows you well with permission to send it to you when they think you’re getting the blues.
Here are some things on my list that might work for you too.
- Cue a playlist. Gather songs that make you laugh (the trippy lyrics 60s hit Shuggie Otis’s Strawberry Letter 23), dance (Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, Blue Man Group’s I feel love).
- Take a walk. Head to the nearest park, beach, river or the most tranquil part of your neighbourhood. Let movement, nature, sunshine and fresh air work their magic.
- Do the opposite. If you’ve been running around frantically all week it’s ok to be a couch potato with your favourite film. But if you’ve been on the couch all day change location, run, skip, hop, dance – move your body even if it’s only for 15 minutes.
- Set the timer. It’s alright to wallow sometimes but set a limit. Use your oven timer, alarm clock or watch to create a boundary on misery time. When it rings commit to getting up and doing something positive.
- Write a note to your future self. Do this before the blues hit, when you’re feeling your best, list the people and experiences in your life that you love and appreciate.
- Touch something fluffy: or silky or your favourite texture. There’s nothing like snuggling up with your favourite pet or putting on a sensuous piece of clothing.
- Aromatherapy. Got a favourite smell? Scratch and sniff an orange, wander the neighbourhood in search of fresh lavender to roll between your fingers, splash on your favourite floral water, aftershave or perfume. Scents can evoke strong emotions. Create a blues busting aroma kit.
- Pin a photo of a time, place, pet or person that floods you with love.
- Wash it away. Time for a long soak in the tub. Even a quick shower or washing your face to allow it to breathe can perk you up. One person I know swears that changing his socks to make him feel instantly better.
- Complete one small task: on a day when the whole to-do list is overwhelming, choose a 5 minute task to tick off. Break housework down to cleaning the kitchen bench or clearing the table, rather than the whole room. Return one email. Prepare one simple meal.
- Stock the freezer. Cook a little extra of your healthiest, freezable dish (such as a hearty soup) to stash away for when you have the blues. When writing the name and date on the on the lid in indelible marker add an uplifting message to make you smile.
What are your favourite blues busters?