Some days are better than others… and some are by far the worst.
It’s normal to have up times and down times – these fluctuations are a part of life. That doesn’t stop it feeling uncomfortable and overwhelming when you do hit a low patch.
I am one such person who pootles along for the most part happily – until the occasional and unexpected moment when I’m floored by a flat, sad, black dog day. For me, the triggers are usually hormones, high stress, too much time in my head and /or insufficient sleep. In clinic I talk to people regularly who also find themselves in a similar position.
How to remedy this?
There are many options available to help boost a low mood, but two simple things I find incredibly effective are exercise and sugar.
Exercise gets you out of your head and into your body. It allows you to burn up nervous energy that will otherwise be directed towards rumination, worry and other stress-feeding activities. Increasing your heart rate and – ideally – breaking a sweat will also promote the production of endorphins, neuropeptides that promote a feeling of well-being.
Not to mention that regular exercise is an important part of maintaining overall health, which will enhance your ability to handle physical, mental and emotional stress.
Exercise suggestions: walking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, dance, rock climbing… etc.
Sugar is a) delicious and b) addictive. With that in mind, I wouldn’t recommend regular and excessive consumption of sugary foods or sweetened drinks. However, a delicious sweet treat when you’re feeling flat can really help to pick you up. This will raise your blood sugar, which will provide a short-term energy boost, and your mood with it.
It’s important not to overdo it though, as too much sugar will end up making you feel far worse (think of a chocolate or lolly binge). As with most health advice, moderation is the key.
Sweet treat suggestions: good-quality chocolate, fresh dates, natural yoghurt with honey or agave, a home-made biscuit or slice, fresh fruit or fresh juice.
When low mood days are more common than not, it’s important to seek help. Talk to your doctor or naturopath about what else might be beneficial for you and your health.