So last week I had one of those evenings where my mood is about as low as it gets and I just don’t know why. And not knowing why makes it even worse because then I can’t do anything to sort it out.
My evening had been going just fine until I watched a really harrowing bit of Game of Thrones, my friend made an offhand remark and my dad criticised my driving. And next thing I know I’m hyperventilating with tears streaming down my cheeks.
I knew I needed to snap out of it. Well not snap out of it. In all my experiences (of which there have been far too many) it doesn’t just suddenly go away like that. But I know that there are certain things which make me feel better and help the feeling to slowly ebb away. Unfortunately when I’m feeling like this I can’t remember what those are. Hence this post. If I write down a list of all the things that can make me feel a bit better then I’ll have it to refer to next time. And hopefully be able to nip it in the bud.
They might seem like absolute common sense but my mind just goes blank when I’m worked up and all I can think about is really sad things – how bleak the future is, how everybody’s going to die, how I’m getting fat because of all the chocolate I eat, that bit in Marley and Me when the dog dies. I’d also really appreciate any suggestions – assuming it’s not just me who gets like this, which I highly doubt.
1. Do NOT try to sleep
My first thought whenever I get worked up is to climb into bed and just get the day over with. But there is no emotion less conducive to sleep than agonising depression. As much as your bed might be cosy and comforting you’ll just be left alone with nothing but your own thoughts. And they’re not helping you right now. So step away from the bed.
Upset in your bedroom? Then move into the lounge. Upset in the lounge? Go and sit in the garden. Even if there isn’t a physical source of your emotions it’s helpful to have a change of scene.
3. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth
Ok I may have got this one from The Princess Diaries. But it is ever so relaxing. Really any breathing exercise at all where you properly fill your lungs and concentrate on your breathing will make your heart beat slower and those butterflies in your stomach calm down.
4. Put on something funny and light-hearted
I put off turning the TV on for as long as possible because once I do it’s admitting that I won’t be going to bed for a while. But if I don’t it’ll just end up being even longer until I calm down enough to actually fall asleep. It goes without saying to keep away from anything that could be upsetting. I stick to things I know really well – something animated, an episode of Friends or really any Jane Austen adaptation.
5. Eat something
I get grumpy when I’m hungry. So if I haven’t eaten in a while there’s a good chance that’s most of the problem. It doesn’t have to be healthy, just quick and comforting. Something fancy with avocado might be oh so Instagram-able but when you’re down nothing beats a dinner of chicken nuggets, chips and spaghetti hoops.
6. Write it down
I have five memos on my phone where I’m just pouring out everything that I’m feeling. I write them as though I was writing a blog post. I’d never publish them because they’re just rambling nonsense but if I’ve got everything I’m worried about down on paper (or Word document) then it’s there to remind me if I need it but I don’t have to keep fixating on it. I can free up my mind to think about happier things. And before I know it my chest is relaxing and the knot in my stomach is loosening.
7. Look at cute things
I have a folder on my laptop which is filled with nothing but cute photos and gifs – dogs wearing bow ties, cats getting stuck in things and pandas falling over. It is physically impossible not the at least smile at a picture of a dog dressed up as Harry Potter.