Feel Blue or Blah? How to Beat The Blues

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 10/06/2017

image via commons.wikimedia.org

Multi-talented people experience an astonishing range and depth of emotion.  DaVincis can feel dizzyingly delighted, outrageously excited, stupendously angry and jaw-droppingly passionate.  Sometimes at the same time.  Alas our mood can also sink down. What might start as an “off” day that takes a dismal downward spiral through a muttering funk before ending up plunk in The Blues.  Sometimes we encounter something relatively trivial and respond disproportionately – taking to our beds where we sob our way through half a box of tissues.  (Note: I’m not talking about clinical depression – if you suspect you’re medically depressed, please get professional help immediately. If you don’t know where to go, ask your MD or start here.) I’m talking about feeling blue or feeling blah – that sad mood, that angsty, self-pitying pool of negative thoughts and emotions that can eat energy and devour days like kudzu decimating cropland.  It can make you an unwilling Debbie Downer, afflicting everyone with whom you interact.

As anyone who’s ever felt The Blues can attest, there is a natural, knee-jerk reaction when this occurs:  panic.  “Oh no!  I’m going down!  Man the alarms!  This ship is sinking!”

Stop.  Breathe.  It’s natural for us to go up and down.  We’re creative people.  We feel everything pretty acutely.

Remember:  Everyone has an off day, from time to time.

If it feels more serious than that — if your mood has been plummeting for days — heading south of your knees with no relief in sight — it’s time to take some action.

Here are 30 proven ways to Beat the Blues:

  1. Get outside.  You need natural daylight and you need it stat.  The Blues dissipates in daylight.
  2. Move your body – walk, dance, do yoga or tai chi. Anything!  Any kind of physical activity can elevate your mood.
  3. Fast as you can, write a list of 50 things for which you’re grateful. Research in Positive Psychology has shown how gratitude makes us happier.
  4. Call your most positive friend(s) for a chat.  Ask them about what’s happening in their life.  Allow yourself to get swept up in their joy.
  5. Go to your music collection.  Select and play songs that make you happy – or that represent a joyful time in your life.  Sing along.  Dance!
  6. Watch or read some comedy.  On TV, in a film or book — ideally in a comedy club.
  7. Lay off the booze.  If you simply refrain from drinking for a few weeks, your mood will rise.  Alcohol is a depressant and those nightly nightcaps can take a huge toll on creative minds and spirits.
  8. Eat a small amount of good quality chocolate – the highest percentage of cocoa that you can handle.  Real chocolate (not the junk version stuffed with fat and sugar) is a natural neurochemical mood lifter.
  9. Lay off the news.  Whether on TV or the internet, the news is bound to depress you.  Take an ‘information vacation’.  Don’t worry.  If anything really important happens in the world, you’ll hear about it.
  10. Take a day off.  Rest.  Replenish.  Refresh.
  11. Pamper yourself (in a healthy, positive way).
  12. Play a game – a board game, a card game – something fun and engaging.  It’s hard to feel blah when you’re having fun. (Note:  avoid any activities you find addictive).
  13. Treat yourself to a play date – alone (if you spend most of your time with people) or with someone (if you spend a lot of time alone).  Do something fun – purely for the pleasure of it.
  14. Volunteer – give your time or money to a good cause.  Again, research has shown that volunteering is a terrific way to beat The Blues.
  15. Press the reset button.  Decide to be happier.  Declare today ‘happier’ day and act that way.
  16. Identify one thing in your life you adore.  Meditate on it.
  17. Smile.  Hold you face in a smile for at least 30 seconds.  Repeat once an hour.  Research shows that holding your face in the ‘smiling’ position, actually makes you *feel* happier.
  18. Think of a time and place you were really happy. Set a timer for (at least) ten minutes.  Close your eyes and imagine you’re in that lovely time and place.  When other thoughts intervene, push them gently aside and resume imagining.  Focus on the details.  See if you can recreate those happy feelings, here and now.
  19. Commit three random acts of kindness.  It’s hard to feel blah when you’re bringing joy to others.
  20. What’s the funniest film you’ve ever seen?  Watch it again.
  21. Invite a positive person for a walk or tea or meal.  Get out of your headspace and into theirs.
  22. Help someone else.  Think of someone who could use your support right now.  Offer it.  Research shows that helping others provides profound, persistent joy.
  23. Spend time in nature.
  24. Focus on the now, on this particular moment.
  25. Try any of these meditations.  As they were designed (and proven) to help even those who are clinically depressed, imagine what they’ll do if you’re just feeling a bit blah or blue?
  26. Put a thick elastic band around your wrist.  Snap yourself whenever you utter or think something negative.  It sounds trite but you can actually train yourself to refrain from negative thoughts – which goes a long way to improving your mood.
  27. Avoid contact with anyone and anything that is negative.  Unsure?  What does your gut say?  If your gut contracts when you think of a certain person, consider minimizing contact with them.  If your shoulders cave in thinking about a particular task or idea, it’s negative.  Avoid it.
  28. Do something new.  Go to a new place or try a new food.  Novel experiences bust the blues and make life much less blah.
  29. Often, a lot is going well except for the few things that hijack our psyches with some kind of dreadful doom.  To the extent possible, take objective stock of your situation.  What’s going well?  What’s not? What 20% of your life are causing 80% of the problems?  Eliminate them.  Solve them.  Do everything you can to focus on the 80% of your life that’s going tickety-boo.
  30. What’s the most important thing in your life – the thing you love most?  How much attention are you giving it?  Give it more.  It’s amazing how many writers haven’t written in a month…and then wonder why they’re feeling blue or blah.  You know what your talents are – do them!

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Activity: what helps raise your spirits when you’re feeling The Blues?  Which of the above 30 techniques have you tried?

Activity: Of the ones you haven’t tried, which seem most appealing?  Make a list.  Write yourself a note:  the next time I’m feeling blue, I’m going to try *these* proven Blues Busters.

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Available here in paperback or ebook format: http://bit.ly/YouCanGetItDone

 

 

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