7 Tips to elevate you when you feel the blues

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For those of you who have felt down recently — whether about your job, yourself or your circumstances in life in general — remember there is always hope for a brighter and happier future. We can’t always explain why a sudden challenge may force us into difficulty, whether emotionally or physically, however there are tricks to feeling better immediately and for the long run.

Here are some tips:

1. Exercise

The natural high that we get from exercise makes us feel stronger mentally and physically. It’s that simple. When we feel stronger, life looks more doable and we often lose the temporary feeling of frustration or difficulty. You focus on the present, as well as forget about the past, or worry about the future. It becomes easier to feel happy about ourselves through physical achievements, especially when we exercise regularly and complement workouts with a diet high in fruits, vegetables and protein. Try working out with a group of friends or at least one friend, and the time should go by quicker than when alone. Listening to music can help pass the time, also.

2. Non-judgmental meditation

In order to understand our thoughts and feelings, we need to be introspective. Take between 2-8 minutes each day to clear your mind by sitting in a naturally lit space. Close your eyes and let your thoughts flow. Don’t judge them. Then picture each thought as a cloud floating away from your mind. Repeat the thought or “cloud” floating exercise until you find a balance and begin to understand and untangle your thoughts and feelings better than before. This short meditation exercise is based on an article written by psychotherapist Jennifer Rollin.

3. Pick up hobbies and practice them regularly

Hobbies are important because they add routine to your lifestyle and can improve your self-image. If you are more athletic, try hobbies such as swimming, running, weight-lifting, biking, yoga, tennis or hiking. If you are less athletic, try hobbies such as cooking, baking, painting, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, singing, walking outdoors or any other relaxing hobby you might enjoy. Continue to do the hobby as regularly as twice each week. Soon, with regular up-keep, you will begin to feel like you are on the path toward achievement and self-improvement. This feeling will help you feel better about yourself, either physically, mentally or both. If you skip a day in the routine, don’t beat yourself up for it. Try to pick up where you left off and continue to enjoy.

4. Practice gratitude statements

When you feel like life looks bleak and less rewarding than you previously felt, it is OK to feel down. However, there are lots of good things that can happen, which you may not pay attention to, in a specific circumstance that feels extremely difficult.

Try writing down statements of gratitude. Write down compliments that you receive, a good deed that you did or someone else did for you or an achievement that you feel especially grateful for in your current circumstance. Write down three things you are grateful for in a journal each day and read over the statements each week to boost your positivity about life and about yourself. Remember, there are always small (or big) things to be grateful for in life, no matter how difficult a situation might be.

5. Persevere while in difficulty

There is no substitute for perseverance when it comes to moving beyond difficulty. Day in and day out, there may be no explanation often for suffering or feeling down (especially when it feels like it is extremely prolonged), but remember that by moving forward you will feel ease eventually. Whether your immediate goal is to feel stronger, more confident or overall, happier, if you are persevering, you are automatically beating difficulty and showing your innermost courage. Depression (or the temporary blues) does not always let go immediately, however, perseverance will help you become the strongest version of yourself.

6. Consider professional help

If you are left with little social support or are facing an extremely difficult circumstance, you may choose to seek professional help. Consider this option if you find that a good balance of other coping strategies does not help to maintain your current lifestyle. Whether simply talking to a therapist or consulting with a medical professional, there are alternatives that can improve your emotional and mental status. Do not be scared to seek help, but remember that coping strategies (i.e. those listed here or elsewhere) and social support will still ultimately carry the largest impact on your well-being.

7. Find solid relationships that will allow you to express yourself

When we may face challenges, either small or large, we need an outlet to help us cope with our thoughts and feelings. If you have a solid social support system — through close friends, with parents, or with other family members — this will help you tremendously. Express your feelings (however difficult they may be) to trusted individuals, and let this be a source of coping. Self-expression is especially helpful when we do not feel judged by those who we trust with our personal feelings. Find good, loving and trusted individuals who will help you move forward in your struggle. Love yourself, respect yourself and remember that others will do the same whenever you love yourself the most. Keep persevering, and do not give up, no matter how difficult.

Filed under Advice

Najma Khorrami is currently the Associate Director of Global Partnerships at The Center for Global Health and Diplomacy in Washington, D.C. She earned her Master in Health Policy in Public Health from The George Washington University in 2012, and rounded out her studies with a Global Health Certificate from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition to her passion for global health policy and wanting to one day help create public health programs for the disadvantaged in developing countries, she enjoys cooking and volunteering. You can follow her on Instagram at @najonoor!