For as long as I can remember, I’ve fallen into depression-like bad moods about every 3-4 weeks or so, usually lasting 2-3 days each time. It’s a major annoyance, but I’ve become better at dealing with it over time.
What I used to do was jump under the blankets, eat pizza, drink coke, read books, watch movies or TV series, and wait for it to pass. While living in India, I’d order Domino’s Pizza delivered. “I’m feeling like shit, give me shit western food, no more dosa or talli for me!” After about 2 days of this, I’d usually had enough and started to crawl out of bed and jump into some work.
I also used to beat myself up over being here yet again! “When will it stop? What’s wrong with me?”
Don’t do that!
Instead, here are my ten tips for how to deal with bad moods:
1. Accept it
As my friend and mentor Gay Hendricks said: “If you were a woman, you’d call it PMS”. Accept that you have these mood swings. Don’t make them wrong. Don’t think they shouldn’t be there. Instead, prepare, so you know what to do when it happens the next time.
Get some exercise. Go for a run. Work out at the gym. This gets your blood pumping, so the emotions will move through you, and the toxins will be flushed out of your body. Try moving parts of your body that you don’t normally move. Your chin? Your hips? Your ankles? Your elbows? Experiment.
3. Love it
See if you can love the experience. Or at least find a willingness to love the bad mood. Take it in. Open up to it. Say yes to it. Embrace it with love, like a sweet, innocent child, coming to you for love.
4. Be curious
Be curious about what is actually going on inside of you. What are the body sensations? Does it remind you of something? Do you have cravings? If so, for what? Where do you feel that? What happens when you open up even more to the experience? See if you can find the part of you that finds the whole process fascinating, even entertaining.
Usually we’ll have combinations of hurt, sadness, anger at having been violated, guilt over feeling this way or not being productive, holding yourself back from feeling or expressing your feelings, self-judgment, self-hate, hate towards others, pain, fear that it’ll never go away, fear that this will prevent you from ever living the life of your dreams, fear of being abandoned by the people you love and depend on because of this, guilt over being a burden on others, feeling a victim to your own emotions, and many other things. See if you can tell them apart and untangle them.
6. Increase the resolution
Look even closer at each element individually and the whole scene at once. Can you detect additional nuances and layers? Do things change over time? If so, how? Can you feel it moving from one part of the body to another? Can you feel the energy shifting?
7. Be a detective
What was the event that started your bad mood this time? Can you recall the first moment you started to feel a tiny bit of this? Was it at thought you had? Was it something someone said? An email? A behavior of yours? What was that? What did you make it mean? Did you make it about you? Was it about putting someone else’s needs or expectations over your own? Not speaking up? What was the fear? Is there a familiar story here? Did you make it about you not being “allowed” to be you?
8. Do random acts of self-love
What’s something you love to do? A massage? A hot foam bath? Sauna? A walk in nature? Receiving gifts? Touch? Loving words? A visit to a good coffee shop? A good, healthy meal, lovingly prepared? Maybe by yourself? Maybe a cup of hot tea? Don’t numb yourself with sugar and fat and other bad stuff. Or do, but do it consciously. Make sure you don’t criticize yourself for it afterwards. And if you do, love yourself for criticizing yourself, and then stop it.
Spend money on yourself, splurge a little on jewelry or kitchen equipment (my favorite!) or whatever else you love, even though you may not feel worth it. Be creative. Write. Play music. Sing. Read a book. Watch a great movie. Dance. Journal.
Start a list of acts of self-love that you can add to every day, and refer to when you need it and just can’t come up with stuff. Pick something and do it, even though that voice inside says you’re not worth it, and it would just be wasted because you feel like shit, and blah blah. Just do it anyway.
9. Be the adult
The part of you that’s feeling like this isn’t very old. Be there for him like a good, healthy, loving adult would. Don’t criticize him. Don’t make him wrong. Love him. See his pain. See though his behavior and his words to the hurt inside, and melt it with the force of your love and compassion.
10. Look in the mirror
Tell yourself that you love yourself. Doesn’t work? Tell the little boy or girl inside it’s okay to feel this way. And that you love him even though he hates himself (and you!) right now. Even though he feels like shit. Even though he may reject your love right now. Talk to him like you as that child would like to be talked to.
“I know you’re hurting, I know you’re in pain. I want you to know I’m here for you. I’m not going to abandon you. I’ll stay here for as long as you need. It’s perfectly okay for you to feel what you’re feeling right now. It’s perfectly okay for you to express anything you need to express right now. There is nothing you can say or do or think or feel that will make me reject or abandon you. Ever. I will always be here. I will always love you. And my love is way bigger than anything that is or will ever be going on inside of you. It can hold anything. And it will. I’m your solid rock, and your ocean of love. I will not sway. You can rely upon me. I’m here. I love you.”
11. (BONUS) Trust in the process of life
Stop the judgment and self-criticism. Your soul knows what it’s doing. If you’re feeling this way, it’s because it’s the best possible thing for your evolution at this moment. Know that this came up to be released. And each time you can be adult and loving in the presence of this, release happens, and what’s released will never come back. Eventually it will all fade away. But don’t try to force it. Don’t do this practice to make it go away. That’s not love. That’s manipulation. Not good. Love it because it’s part of life, it’s part of what makes you human. God created this. Accept the gift.
Over to YOU:
What do YOU do when you feel down?
What things have worked for you?
What has been YOUR typical not-so-healthy way of dealing with this? :)
I’d love to hear from you.