How To Beat The Blues

How to Beat the Blues

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January is renowned for giving many of us the blues but feeling down, sad and depressed can strike us at any time of the year and it can come out of nowhere.  Knowing how to beat the blues and lift yourself out of a funk is vital to overall life/work/health balance.

I remember very clearly being hit by a ‘dark cloud’ of depression towards the end of my first year at university.  It was as if I’d been hit by lightning, so sudden was its arrival.  Looking back now, I realise that this was probably one of the first signs of suffering from an autoimmune illness and from the early 1990s onwards I have experienced ups and downs in my moods which I have had to learn to manage.

Here are some of the methods I’ve used in order to improve my sense of wellbeing: –

How to Beat The Blues = Maintain a Routine

Even when I’m not working, lying in bed makes me feel worse as it is a sure fire way for your thoughts and feelings to spiral out of control.  Getting up at a set time, dressing and working through your day in an orderly fashion gives your life structure and stops your brain working overtime.

I’ve found that my mind needs to be occupied with distractions otherwise it seems to just whir at a million miles per hour.  I have used both reading and writing as a portal to escape the blues and scheduled them into my day.  Losing yourself in a story allows you to conjur up a mental image in your head, it’s almost as if you can start an imaginary film which pushes all other thoughts to one side.

Similarly writing stories and poetry has been a way in which I can absorb myself in a creative activity that not only distracts me but makes me feel good too.  Plotting storylines and characters has been a wonderful escape route for me that’s also enabled me to self publish on Amazon too!

Think about how you love to spend time and then absorb yourself in that activity.

How to Beat The Blues = Take control of your finances

Ignorance is not bliss and running out of money mid month will only serve to make you feel a hundred times worse than you did before.

If money is tight, use what you already have.  Above all, we all need to eat whether we’re running out of money or not.  Anxiety and stress simply worsens when you have money worries and don’t manage your finances.

You’d be amazed what lurks in your cupboards, larder and freezer.  Use a site like MyFridgeFood to find out what recipes will work with what you already have.  What’s more, cooking from scratch and baking are therapies in themselves.  Marian Keyes, author, has had a well documented battle with depression and she used baking as a way to relieve the awful black hole she found herself sucked into.

How to Beat The Blues = Write down your worries

I find that simply writing down all the issues that are bothering me is like doing a ‘brain dump’.  I keep my lists in a diary but you can use your phone, I-Pad, calendar, bullet journal or whatever works for you.  Storing it all up inside your head is a sure fire way of feeling worse and it also hinders sleep.

Just the simple act of striking off a task that you’ve managed to achieve makes you feel better, as if you have conquered some of your worries and concerns.  Keep a pen and paper by the bed and if something starts to bother you in the middle of the night write it down and then file it away to deal with later.

How to Beat The Blues = Outdoor activities

Spending time outdoors, whether on your own or with other people, is an excellent way to lift your spirits.  Remove yourself from technology, switch off your phone and stop checking your emails every 5 minutes.

Walking and just breathing in some fresh air is remarkably soothing.  Take the earphones out for a while and really listen to nature.  If you you’re lucky enough to live near water, plan a walk so that you can be calmed by its tranquility and soothed by the sound of it trickling over rocks.  Failing that, you can always get a soundtrack of soothing noises like trickling water to help aid the relaxation process.

If you have a family who wants to go along, you can try geocaching which is a fun and free activity that is growing in popularity.  Not only will you enjoy yourself but you will definitely be distracted from any negative thoughts.

How to Beat The Blues = Eat well

If we eat rubbish then we feel rubbish.  It’s as simple as that.

Our bodies are delicate machines that require careful tuning.  So just as a car needs maintenance so do our bodies.  Here in the UK, the weather can be quite cold more often than not which can make us reach for the wrong sort of comfort food more often than we should.

We’ve probably all known what it’s like to have a sugar headache after you’ve indulged yourself in the hope of feeling better.  However, there is always that feeling of regret soon afterwards.  If the crisps and biscuits aren’t in the house then you can’t eat them and you can’t hear them calling your name from the kitchen cupboards …

How to Beat The Blues = Borrow A Dog

In all the years I have experienced ‘down days’, ‘the blues’ or whatever you want to call it, I can honestly say that the company of a dog has never failed to lift my spirits.

I have never actually owned a dog but that’s never stopped me!  I have simply borrowed one on many occasions.  Not only are you doing yourself a favour, you’re helping to exercise someone else’s beloved pet and you’re making the owner and pet very happy into the bargain too.  Perhaps there are neighbours you could ask.

Alternatively, use the services of BorrowMyDoggy which is a brilliant way of connecting dog owners and wannabe dog borrowers.  All you have to do is create a free profile, choose a membership, meet up and start enjoying the company of dogs.  At just £12.99 per year for membership, you are able to message owners, have access to the Vet Line when you borrow a dog and be covered by insurance too.

How To Beat The Blues

How To Beat The Blues

The feel of their fur and the act of petting an animal is known to lower anxiety and stress levels dramatically.  The act of caring for another creature makes you focus on something other than yourself and is a great way to distract yourself from negative thoughts.

How to Beat The Blues = Have something to look forward to

Everyone talks about booking a holiday but it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture that costs a fortune.

Schedule a weekend afternoon watching some of your favourite films, visit a friend, go to a gallery or museum to immerse yourself in some culture or use that expensive bubble bath you’ve been ‘keeping for best’.

Just knowing that you’re doing something for yourself is enough to give you a bit of a lift and spurs you on through the darker days.

What’s more write everything you have got to look forward to in a diary or calendar so you can see it every day and know that there is always a little treat on its way to you!

Here’s to life on your terms,

Rachel a.k.a The Life Hack Tutor

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How To Beat The Blues

How To Beat The Blues

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