Feeling sad and gloomy? Lonely and uncertain? Maybe you can’t identify the precise emotion, but you feel something deep in your soul, and it hurts. Maybe it’s not you – maybe it’s a friend. We’ve all felt it to one degree or another: the blues. They make it hard to face the day. But don’t let them drag you down. You can beat the blues – and here’s how to do it.
Listen to Music
Listening to music gives the blues a kick in the pants. Music is like medicine. The therapeutic power of music isn’t limited to only bright, happy music, either. Try spinning a little Bobby Harden or B.B. King. Blues musicians know the power of singing about life’s troubles, and when you listen to them, you’ll be reminded you’re not alone. But don’t stop with just listening to the music – move with it!
Move Your Body
You may not feel like it, but do it anyway. Exercise is one of the most powerful ways to beat the blues. And if your friend is feeling blue, too, get them moving with you. Research shows exercise is as effective as taking an antidepressant. It doesn’t matter what exercise you do – just do it. Dance. Walk. Swim. Take a spin class. Exercise outside and enjoy the added bonus of spending time in nature.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
How much time have you spent in nature lately? Human beings have a deep connection with nature. However, life is busy and many of us have lost the connection. Get back to nature and soothe what ails you. Hang a bird feeder in your yard and watch the birds’ crazy antics. Take a hike. Remove your shoes and stroll in the grass. Hug some bark and smell some flowers. Being outside in nature is also a great way to get a little light therapy.
Turn on the Lights
Daylight. When it’s winter, even living in a sunny climate doesn’t guarantee you get enough natural daylight. Morning sunlight is a wonderful mood enhancer. Don’t spend your first moments of the day hiding behind closed curtains – open the blinds! If you have a dog, start the day with a brisk walk. If not, go wake up a friend and drag them outside with you. Consider buying a light box you can use on rainy days. Light works wonders, and so does chocolate!
No one has to give me permission to eat chocolate! Research shows chocolate may increase brain chemicals responsible for mood. And while you’re enjoying your chocolate, why not bake a cake? Baking is a soul-soothing activity. Go one step further and share it with someone else who’s feeling the blues, too. Another remedy is as simple as pen and paper.
Write About It
Writing about your emotional state can help you deal with sadness. Try expressive writing, a form of journaling that focuses on feelings. Or keep a gratitude journal where you write about the positive things in your life. The practice of intentional gratitude is powerful enough that over time, your brain becomes rewired, changing the negative thinking that tags along with the blues. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation – just write! Writing doesn’t make the blues magically disappear, but it does lead to a greater awareness of your feelings.
If the blues continue to hang on, talk to your doctor or a therapist. Sometimes a medical condition causes the blues to persist despite our best efforts to shake them off.
Elizabeth “Amy” Ramirez is a freelance writer and writing coach