Depressed? Six Great Ways to Lift Your Mood Immediately
In my late twenties, I was diagnosed with clinical depression by a leading, internationally known psychiatrist. He wrote me a prescription for two anti-depressants–explained that I would be on them for the remainder of my life–and sent me on my way.
He was wrong.
The medication left me feeling even worse. I lived in a fog of numbness for years and accepted his diagnosis without question, only to learn that my depression was not the result of some chemical imbalance.
It was the direct result of living in an emotionally abusive environment and being a text-book codependent.
Once I began my recovery from codependency, my depression started to lift. I stopped taking my medication and began working diligently on healing.
When you’ve spent the majority of your life in a depressed state, however, it’s pretty easy to be drawn back to what feels like your normal. I make a concerted effort to not go back to that space.
But what happens when you have one of those days where everything seems to send you spiraling back down the black hole of depression?
These are the six things I do to lift me immediately from that dark abyss.
I almost hesitated to include this because it almost appears insulting at first glance. I’m already breathing, you dolt. You may be thinking.
I can’t believe how powerful this tool has become in my life.
I have an app on my phone that is set to go off at 3 pm each day with a reminder for me to meditate. Almost always the message that pops up on my phone will say one word. Breathe.
Stopping and taking a few deep, controlled breaths accomplishes a key goal– it gets me out of my head.
I’m a classic overthinker. Many times my thoughts and worries will rally out of control and taking a few long breaths breaks that cycle for me.
It brings me back to my body and present moment.
Meditation isthe ultimate self-care for the mind and body.
Stress is a big trigger for my depression. I begin to feel helpless and out of control.
The Pacific Neuroscience Institute explains that mindfulness and meditation can be used to reduce stress to improve brain health by lowering the cortisol–driven stress response in the body and mind.
They share additional research that shows mindfulness and meditation strengthen brain activity and connectivity, and therefore a sense of “psychological well-being.”
I meditate as an emergency response when I feel that dark cloud of depression moving over me, but I’ve learned the more I commit to daily meditation the more those dark clouds are kept at bay.
I use the popular app Calm for my daily meditation. One day I was traveling for work, which is always a big stressor for me because I hate flying. I found myself stuck at an airport for my connection, and stress and depression began to creep in.
I passed a spa in the airport that offered free 30-minute sessions in one of their massage chairs if you had the Calm app on your phone. It was exactly what I needed.
I mediated in the massive massage chair and immerged a new woman.
Get up and move. Exercise is a proven way to get a good mix of hormones pumping through your body. Endorphins are released when we exercise which gives us a sense of well-being.
The problem is when we are depressed, we don’t feel like doing much. So I’ve added something else to my “move” category and that is to move locations.
If I’ve been sitting at my desk for hours and begin feeling depressed, I’ll get up and change locations.
I’ll go to a coffee shop or a cozy bookstore. Sometimes just getting out of the house helps change my perspective and mood and I’ll go for a long drive and listen to my favorite music.
Even if I don’t “feel” like it, I’ll make myself do it. I’ve never once regretted it.
4. Get Outside
This is my personal favorite for changing my mood immediately. I’m an earth kind of girl and I draw from the energy of nature.
I head to one of my favorite trails or even just lay in the grass in the backyard but the most important aspect is to physically touch nature.
Yes, I know skeptics will could write this one off as crazy, but it has worked over and over in my life and I’ve only recently begun to understand why.
According to GOOP, “The earth has an infinite supply of free electrons, so when a person is grounded, those electrons naturally flow between the earth and the body, reducing free radicals and eliminating any static electrical charge. The reason grounding is so powerful is it reduces and prevents inflammation from occurring in the body, which in turn prevents inflammation-related health disorders.”
The technique is called grounding or earthing. And it has made me a believer. I feel much calmer after I’ve taken the time to ground myself.
5. Call a Trusted Friend
I’m a notorious outward processor. You may meet me and within three minutes you’ll already likely know my entire life’s history. I feel better when I talk through things and just get them outeven if no solution has presented itself.
I suggest calling your most positive friend and not attempt to elicit advice from them, just share what’s on your mind. If you know someone who is a mix of being a good listener and an empath, I’ve found that’s the best combination.
The load we are carrying seems lighter when we have someone carrying it with us.
I’m a big fan of self-help books. If you are going through something I can guarantee you that someone else has already gone through it and wrote a book on it.
Sharing experiences with others makes us not feel quite so alone on our journey.
If you don’t want to take a deep-dive into a book, you are already in the right place for finding help. Medium is a wealth of knowledge and can provide quick reads to calm your weary mind.
Your go-to quick list for feeling better.
1. Breathe. Get out of your head.
2. Meditate. Take 15 minutes for a reset.
3. Move. Get up and go somewhere.
4. Get outside. Go spend some time with mother earth.
5. Call a friend. Spill your guts and get a hug. Even if it’s virtual.
6. Read. Commiserate and learn from others.
When I stop and recognize how I am feeling, acknowledge it, and choose not to beat myself up over it I considered it an act of self-love. I soon realize that I have the power within me to control how I am feeling.
Everything I’ve mentioned is for mild depression surrounding our thinking and environment.
However, if you have severe depression or depressive episodes lasting an expanded amount of time, then please seek help from a professional.
The doctor who misdiagnosed me was still an amazing doctor who helped me in many other ways.
I’m a big fan of counselors and physicians who do have the power to help through medication and other treatment plans.
If you are depressed, there is no shame in getting help.
Also, if you are feeling suicidal help is available. You can speak with someone immediately for free.
Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available 24 hours a day at, 800–273–8255
This article was originally published on Medium.com.
More from Donlyn Turnbull
Writer | Producer — I help people find greater happiness and success through self-development and creating great content.