Boost your Mood

Are you finding yourself a bit blue in the holiday season? Stress? If so, you're not alone. Holidays are typically full of to-do lists, good things & sometimes unmet expectations or loss. Not only can this be extremely stressful, it can stir up uncertainty. Do what you can to lessen the anxiety and depression if this is something you are experiencing.

If you want things to be different, do something differently-if you do what you've always done, you'll always have what you've currently got. Therefore, if you want to improve your mood and feel better, you must change your behavior.

Consider these steps, you may even find yourself feeling better than you have in a long time!

* Move It. It's a proven fact that increasing your activity level will lift your mood- sometimes as much as taking an antidepressant. Take frequent walks throughout the day or structure a half hour of stretching. Plan events to look forward to, join a small group, or start playing a team sport. This can be hard to do - especially if you're used to being less active. But before you say, "That is not for me" imagine that every step you take is a step that will lead you closer to feeling better.

* Huddle-Up. Many of us become depressed because we feel lonely & isolated, though we may not be. Reach out to friends and family. Strengthen your support system by making a few calls, write a letter or email, or set a coffee date or golf game with a friendly colleague. Do as much as you can with others and this will lift your mood quickly. We are created for relationship.

* Fire Perfectionist Thoughts. No one is perfect. NO ONE IS PERFECT! No matter how perfect someone's life appears, I assure you, they are not perfect. You don't need to be perfect either! If you're feeling down because you didn't do something as well as someone else or you're not looking as great as someone else, stop comparing yourself to others. That is a lose/lose approach. Your best effort is good enough and no one expects more than your best effort. Your best you is the goal, not matching or out-doing others.
* A thought is just a thought. You control your thoughts, they don't control you. You attach or deny meaning to each thought. You may encounter a red light and think, "The light just turned red." This is a very neutral thought, but you might find yourself spiraling into negative interpretations if you're already feeling down. "Another red light? This always happens to me!" When you find yourself dramatizing every thought, stop and reign yourself in. Limit your interpretations to facts, and search for evidence to support your beliefs.
* Base your beliefs on evidence. When we're not feeling great, we have a tendency to discount all of the positive things we see or hear about ourselves and believe only the negative things. Doing this only worsens your mood. If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be
understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally.
What I thought you just said is.... is that what you meant?"
* Affirm yourself. The value of healthy self-nurture is immense. But as our mood slips, so does our ability to think positively. So acknowledge yourself the way you would talk to a good friend - pay yourself compliments, be kind, allow yourself a pat on the back. Fight against the part of your brain that is telling you negative things; "I am not good enough, I can't do anything right, I am a failure," fight against these ideas by telling yourself, "No, that's not true, I did create a good holiday for my family/I am working hard at my job/I made a friend feel better, so it can't be true that I am not good enough."
* It is Not all about You. People are created with a need to belong, make an impact & have importance. Choose a way of serving others and experience the joy & satisfaction of giving; a homeless shelter, a soup-kitchen, volunteer with group home or shelter children, help with mailings at a church, etc.
*Do something enjoyable - for at least 10 minutes. When our mood is really low we can't imagine enjoying anything. We talk ourselves out of trying. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: nothing sounds enjoyable, so I won't do anything, and pretty soon, nothing is pleasurable. Break this cycle by doing something enjoyable for just 10 minutes. By committing to do it for only 10 minutes, you will avoid overwhelming yourself. Ask yourself if the pleasant activity was better, worse, or as enjoyable as you imagined.
*Contact a licensed therapist. Depression is extremely common and several studies approximate that 10% of the population is clinically depressed at any one time. Yet only 20% of persons with depression will seek appropriate care from a therapist. A licensed therapist with experience treating depression can help you to rapidly increase your mood, alleviate your symptoms, and help you get back on your feet. You deserve to be happy and taking care of yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your family.

Author's Bio: 

Marta Hatter, LCSW provides services to clients in Irvine, Ca. Relationship counseling and Trauma Treatment are highlights of her work with clientele.
Marta is an EMDR Certified Therapist, and also provides online counseling for cross-cultural workers, humanitarian aid workers, and missionaries from California who are living and working abroad.