Battling a low mood is difficult and sometimes it gets to the point where motivation to help yourself might even wane. This time of the year, Seasonal Affect Disorder or S.A.D. is in full swing. Here are 5 strategies that therapists teach clients when they are battling depression or S.A.D. Keep in mind that counseling has been shown as the most effective strategy to overcome depression, so seek the help of a professional if you are feeling your low mood has become difficult to manage and it is getting in the way of responsibilities and relationships.
1. Keep track of your daily activities – You might be surprised to find out that sitting in front of the tv and watching CSI: Special Victims Unit might be contributing to your negative mood. You might also be surprised to find there are no ice cream breaks or walks in the park to elevate your mood.
2. Schedule activities that make you feel good: This is where the ice cream and walks from #1 come in. Think of things you enjoy and schedule those in to your life little by little but more than you are doing now. Don’t overwhelm yourself, start small. Add one more pleasurable activity than you are doing now in a week, then add to it.
3. Reward yourself when you do something positive for your health: If you take a walk that is great, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself how awesome you are or as I like to do, put on Prince’s “Baby I’m a Star” and sing it to yourself.
4. Dispute your negative thoughts: Rather than tell yourself nothing ever works out for you or nobody likes you, make a list of things that dispute that logic. When have things worked out? Is there anyone in your life that voluntarily spends time with you?
5. Reach out and use your support systems: Although it may be hard, reach out to people. Invite people over, ask a friend to meet you for coffee, get out of the house and out of your routine. Isolating yourself is a bad sign and can make things worse. Just being around others can significantly improve your mood and if you are open to it, share some of your worries. You might be surprised that your friends do care if you are struggling and getting things off your chest can help you feel not so alone.
If you are feeling a sense of hopelessness, your mood is effecting the relationships around you, and it is getting tough to fulfill responsibilities, call for an appointment. You might be dealing with depression and counseling can help!