Are you having one of those days where nothing seems to be going right? Cars are speeding past and not using their signals and you have a baby in the car, you wish you were skinnier, you and your friends aren’t clicking like you used to, and/or you’re stuck on that one incident that happened in the past where you wish you would have done or said something different. Maybe it’s not just one of those days and this is an incessant cycle of depression that happens for you. OR you don’t know why you’re feeling this bad. ALL of these reasons to feel down are valid and there is something small you can do.
Right now I’m going to demonstrate ways you can gain control over these moments rather than your negative moods and thoughts having control over you.
1. Exercise. You knew I was going to say that didn’t you? Even just a few moments of movement can have stimulating positive effects on your brain. Exercise can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other growth factors, stimulate neurogenesis, increase resistance to brain insult and improve learning and mental performance (1). Also, exercise benefits brain plasticity processes. Brain plasticity is basically the brain getting active and reorganizing itself in a positive way. Overall, exercise could provide a simple means to maintain and improve brain function.
2. Identify and acknowledge how you are feeling. The Feeling Wheel by Dr. Gloria Willcox of the Gottman Institute (2) can be a helpful way to identify how you’re feeling, positive or negative. Identifying your thoughts could sound like this, Wow, I’m feeling really down and I can’t relate to anyone right now. I feel inadequate. When we identify our emotions we are one step closer to accepting them or moving through them. If you feel stuck in your negative emotion try calling up a friend or family member, go for a walk, or switch up what you are already doing. It may be most helpful and productive to seek out professional help. I’ll reference a trusted psychotherapy center below (3).
3. Neutralize your negative self-talk. I learned this one, thanks to Molly Galbraith and Girls Gone Strong (4). Hear yourself speak negatively about your body, your mind, or your skills and then neutralize your words by stating what is true and unbiased. This looks like this, "Ugh I look so puffy". Flip it to…"This is what I look like today". Practice this over and over, day after day and once you feel comfortable with a neutral statement you are ready to practice shifting a negative thought into a positive one. Bonus, tell positive thoughts to yourself in the mirror. Here's an example, "Ugh I look so puffy". Back flip it to…"I love my body and appreciate how my body has carried me through my life"!
Trust me, you can get there!
These are not rules for you to follow. The last thing we need are more rules. And know that being depressed is ok and it is often a temporary emotion. If any of these phrases, practices, or rituals speak to you, give them a try and even better if they make you feel less stressed, even if momentarily, add it to your tool box. If you have not been feeling like yourself for several days, aren't sleeping or are sleeping too much, and cannot seem to shake it, contact your primary care physician.
(1) Cotman, C.W., & Berchtold, N.C. (2002). Exercise: A behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-2236(02)02143-4
(3) Chamin Ajjan Psychotherapy Group Contact: https://chaminajjan.com/
(4) The Girls Gone Strong Academy Pre-and Postnatal Coaching Certification Manual.
2018. Girls Gone Strong.