• Tanya Louise

Tips to improve low mood

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Feeling low has probably affected us all at some point but can affect us in different ways. It can impact our thoughts, our body on a physical level as well as what we do, and more specifically, what we stop doing. As part of #MentalHealthAwareness month.

A common sign of feeling low is becoming less active and not doing the things and daily activities that we need to do or which we enjoy. It then becomes a vicious cycle as withdrawing from these activities maintains the low mood as we miss opportunities and interacting with others.

You may find that you actually do less because it's easier to do nothing at all, however, as hard as it may seem right now, increasing activities can actually help break the cycle if we try and do them in a structured way. This works by seeing how doing activities affects your emotion, rather than waiting until you feel like doing something, which may never come. Ever heard about exercise releasing endorphins? It's the same principle, which is why you get that 'I can't be bothered to go to the gym' feeling, but always feel better afterwards. 

The NHS recommend that you divide activities into 3 main types: Routine, Necessary and pleasurable.

Routine - The things that you would do on a daily basis e.g . getting up, showering

Necessary - The things that we may not want to do but need to, otherwise there could be problems e.g paying bills, going to work, cleaning and home maintainence.

Pleasurable - Things such as hobbies e.g visiting friends, going out, cooking.

There is some overlap between routine, necessary and pleasurable activities but the aim is to create a balanced increase in activities.

So how can you increase your activity level?

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Firstly, make a list of Routine, Necessary and Pleasurable activities - include the things which you need and would like to do but have stopped since feeling low.

Then mark them in order of importance, making sure you include each type of activity - routine, necessary and pleasurable.

Plan the tasks using a timetable or diary. Try not to be too strict as if things crop up you'll only feel more stressed that you can't stick to your timetable. Try some easier tasks first. Small regular activities are best to start with, then add in other activities over time.  Activities do need to be detailed i.e do 20 minutes of yoga at 9am. Take the dog for a walk around 10am.

Do them!! - do each activity and make a record of it in your diary.

Review your week - look at what activities you managed to include. How did the increased activity affect your mood? What activities could you include next week? If it was difficult to complete some activities, could you ask someone to help you? If you find trying to stick to a day by day schedule to stressful, try listing the things you want to do that week instead and review that at the end of the week

Don't worry if it is difficult to increase your activity levels at first and do remember that there is no such thing as failure. If something doesn't work, see it as an opportunity to learn from the mistake and improve next time. If you find that you're not completing all the activities, and feel like there is not enough hours in the day, try listing the things that you have done and achieved. You've probably find you've done more than you actually realise.

Love T xx

* If you do have continuing low mood. Do make an appointment to speak to your GP. You don't have to go through it alone. 

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