5 mistakes we make when we’re feeling down

As the singer songwriter and onetime Boyzone band member Ronan Keating once declared, ‘life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it… so don’t fight it.” And regardless of your opinion on his talents, such as they are, you can’t deny that he’s on to something there. Life IS like a rollercoaster – sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you’re down, and sometimes you’re on that mechanical lift-type thing that takes you back up to the top again. We have to take the rough with the smooth, the ying with the yang. But when we’re feeling down, it can be easy to make it worse for ourselves by making some common mistakes.

Resistance

Just as the first step to overcoming a problem is acceptance that you actually have a problem, the only way you can deal with feeling down is by accepting that sometimes this will happen – it’s impossible to be on a high all the time – even George Clooney has a bad day once in a while. When we feel a bad mood coming on, it’s natural to try and resist it, to force ourselves to feel better, but of course this is rarely successful and in fact will often cause frustration when those feelings don’t pass. The best technique is to end resistance, accept that you are feeling down, and know that it will soon pass.

Inactivity

If you’re feeling blue, one of the best things you can do to give yourself a lift is indulge in a favourite activity, especially one that brings you into contact with other people. So maybe pop into your local Mecca Bingo hall for a few lively games; invite a friend round for dinner, or head to the gym for an endorphin-boosting workout. If anything it will take your mind off things for a few hours, and you may even find you’ve forgotten whatever it is that was troubling you in the first place.

Denial

If you’re feeling down, chances are that there’s a good reason for it. When we’re feeling sensitive, even the smallest thing, such as a loved one not immediately replying to an email, can send us into a stone-cold funk. So it makes sense to identify the cause, and remedy it. Of course that doesn’t mean bombarding your partner with calls, texts and emails until they do respond, bewildered, but instead understanding that they may be busy, out of battery or signal, or have temporarily lost their phone. A simple example, but it demonstrates that you can feel better if you acknowledge what’s bothering you and look for the solution, rather than just enduring it.

Venting

When we’re feeling frustrated it helps to blow off some steam, but you need to be careful in whose direction you’re blowing it. Everyone has different personalities, and some friends are ideal for sounding-out your problems, consoling you and offering sensible solutions. Others, however, may react badly to your venting, which can add to their own stress levels, and you could put a relationship at risk. Similarly, if you have a regular friend or family member you approach whenever you’re down, they may come to resent it if it happens too often, or worse still, if you’re not there for them. So if you need to express your feelings, sometimes it may make sense to put a pillow over your face and give a primal scream, or write it down in a journal.

Avoiding Sleep

It can be tempting, when we’re feeling low, to distract our thoughts with by watching television or indulging in a spell of random internet browsing on a tablet. This is particularly likely at bedtime, when negative thoughts chase themselves around while you’re trying to get off to sleep. But looking at a screen for hours is a really bad idea, as the light disrupts sleep patterns even more, leaving you feeling even worse the next day. Instead do some vigorous exercise a few hours before, and some reading or other calming activity before going to bed.

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