Posted by Nicole on September 3, 2019
Are you going through a "down" period in your life? Or is it something which you live with all the time? When you're struggling with feelings of melancholy or when your emotions seem to shut down completely, it can be hard to function in your day-to-day life, or derive joy from your experiences.
But there are ways you can better manage your mood through the everyday choices you make regarding your lifestyle. Your mileage may vary, but the recommendations which follow may be helpful for regulating your mood.
1. Have a structured routine.
When you have difficulties with your mood, unexpected disruptions can further dysregulate you. To try and minimize the unexpected, you should have a structured routine for your days which helps you to maintain a feeling of control.
A structured routine also can be helpful when it comes to making sure that things are getting done around your home and that you are not falling through on important responsibilities.
2. Avoid unnecessary stressors.
Speaking of stress, minimizing it is important if you want to maintain your mood. Even though there are many stressors which you cannot avoid in your life, there are probably quite a few which you can keep to a minimum if you take the right steps.
In a lot of cases, that takes the form of learning how to tell people "no" when necessary. While it is important to take care of others, it is also important to take care of yourself. That means not taking on more commitments than you can manage.
3. Get extra rest when you need it.
Oftentimes, dysregulation in your mood is a result of overwhelming circumstances or emotions. When you feel psychologically disconnected from the world, that may reflect a reality of needing to actively disconnect for awhile to recharge.
Instead of fighting that urge, consider being proactive about it. Give yourself extra time and space to rest throughout the day. It is okay to take more breaks than usual if it helps your body and mind restore themselves. The kinder you are to yourself, the fewer obstacles there will be to restoring your mental state.
4. Find sources of social support.
When you're feeling down, social interaction can become stressful. But completely isolating yourself isn't always helpful. It reduces the sources of perspective you have to turn to, and may also make it difficult to feel good about yourself.
Let family and friends know if you need to take more time to yourself, but take care of these valuable connections. It can help a lot just knowing someone is there for you and accepts you as you are. You can also consider a support group if you want to talk to others who can relate to your situation better than your immediate social circle.
5. Don’t lose out on necessary sleep.
According to Harvard, “Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.1”
Getting a full night of sleep should be a priority if you want to regulate your mood effectively. Make it a part of your structured routine. Supplements such as ashwagandha and melatonin may be of help.
6. Eat a healthy diet.
What you eat also can influence how you feel psychologically. Harvard recommends, “Try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar. Add fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha. You also might want to try going dairy-free — and some people even feel that they feel better when their diets are grain-free. See how you feel. Then slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel.”
7. Don’t get down on yourself.
Positive psychology has been all the rage for decades now, and has become deeply embedded in our modern culture. But that has had some not-so-positive effects.
When you are having psychological difficulties, it is easy to get down on yourself. You may think that something is "wrong" with you. You may tell yourself that you are not doing enough, or that you are inadequate in some way. It does not help that negative people in your life may constantly tell you to chin up and put a smile on your face.
But when you internalize such a narrative, all you do is invalidate yourself. It is like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. It is an abrasive thing to do, and the only way to get the peg in is to damage it.
Consider accepting that you are a square peg, and you do not need to go into a round hole. Let go of those expectations and try treating yourself with compassion instead. When you begin working with your nature instead of against it, you will be providing yourself with the framework you need to thrive.
8. Search for new ways to engage with the world.
One of the hard things about feeling the blues is that it becomes difficult to connect to the world and to the activities that you enjoy. Continuing as you have in the past may simply frustrate you further, worsening your dysregulation.
If this is the case for you, consider (carefully) breaking out of your routine from time to time. For example, if you are a writer, and your mood is keeping you from connecting to your work, try doing something different. Take a painting class. Go surfing. Call up an old friend.
Doing activities outside your routine can help shake up your perspective in a refreshing way. You may even be caught off guard by moments of delight.
9. Try taking a supplement to support a healthy mood.
Finally, something else you can do is try taking supplements like 5-HTP, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, ashwagandha and passionflower. Together with the lifestyle recommendations above, these supplements can help you lead a well-adjusted life, even with the blues.