More people have been reaching out lately to ask what to do when they get in a down mood, or a blue funk. No matter what title we hold in our organizations, we have this common humanity of navigating our emotions. It’s with us no matter how loved we are, or prosperous we are—we still must learn to pull ourselves up when we feel down. That may look different from every perspective, yet all of us have the power to choose a focus or activity that lifts us into a higher energy, better mood, better outlook. Here are a few things that help me, and have also helped clients:
• Shift focus away from what is troubling you to topic that is interesting to you and lose yourself in fully exploring that. This will take your thinking and energy to a new level and from there, you might be able to reach back to the issue that was troubling and see it differently. When we raise our awareness to a higher level, it’s kind of like standing on higher ground and we see different possibilities than we could see when looking up through the weeds.
• Call upon your strengths. We have many strengths in our wheelhouse that we don’t consciously call upon every day. For example, you may have Futuristic in your top five, and Positivity at number 15. You can choose to activate a strength to support you by pairing it with another. In this case positivity can support futuristic imaginings by looking at future outcomes you want to experience. Or you might call on one of your relationship strengths like Relator or Woo to bring in support from friends and associates. We have the power to dial any of our strengths up or down when we think about them.
• Get moving. We have all heard it before, but physical activity, preferably outside is a mood elevator that is scientifically documented. Our energy rises, our brains release endorphins that are like our own free pharmacy giving us a natural high. I can always tell when my husband has skipped a workout. He is like a different person – lower energy, little things bug him more, less optimistic. One session at the gym after riding his bike there and back and he is restored.
• Get together with friends for lunch or dinner. There is something about laughing with others that make our troubles shrink into a better proportion. This nearly always energizes me and brings up my mood. Especially if I am with people who enjoy life. It wouldn’t work to go to lunch with a pessimist who complains the whole time you are together.
• Clean off your desk. This one doesn’t work for everybody, but for a lot of us cleaning a space like your desk, a closet or or the kitchen pantry is a way to shift focus, feel and see a real sense of accomplishment and lift your mood, especially if you turn on happy tunes while doing it. And even if you are still in a funk after the cleaning, you will be pleased about the order you have created and often want to keep going. Most often, as I’m doing something mundane like this, my thoughts drift to a creative mode and I’m eager to start a new project. That sense of accomplishment at a small task boosts my confidence back to normal and I’m ready to tackle something with a bit more tooth.
Go easy on yourself – none of us is always at the top of our game and the most evolved souls on the planet still have days that simply suck—but it passes more quickly if we don’t add judgement to the mix. The more accepting we can be of ourselves, the more capacity we have for happiness and as we extend that acceptance out toward others a ripple effect happens. Small, maybe, but significant contribution to all of us.
Note: This is the most common month of the year to experience some level of depression, and if your down mood lasts more than a day or two, you may want to reach out for support from a licensed therapist.