We all have down days, bad moods, days when we’d just rather crawl back into bed and hide out under the duvet! January is notorious for being a month full of the blues; the joy and festivities of Christmas and the New Year have disappeared, money can be tight, it’s cold, wet and windy (if you’re in England that is!) and then there’s Seasonal Affective Disorder which is never particularly helpful either.
So what can you do if you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps? We’ve looked around and created a handy list of DIY things you can do to help boost your own mood naturally! 🙂
Before we get into this list however it’s important to highlight that sometimes it’s not just low mood or an off day but a more serious condition – depression. There’s been no official statement confirming that PCOS and depression are linked, however it cannot be denied that the havoc our hormones play can make a low mood that much worse…and that just sucks!
Depression, stress and anxiety (often found together) can manifest themselves in many physical, emotional and behavioural ways. Common symptoms include: insomnia, headaches, fatigue, sudden loss or increase in appetite, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness or guilt, poor concentration, loss of libido, memory loss and withdrawal from social interactions. Take your pick! And remember that everyone will have different symptoms and their depression will manifest in its own way, it’s important to acknowledge this and be supportive rather than dismissive if someone is suffering with symptoms that aren’t listed, or aren’t common, or aren’t the same as yours – depression is depression and needs to be treated with support, love and positive thinking.
If you are struggling to cope with low mood (and it’s perfectly okay to admit this!) and think you may suffer from depression it is important to seek further advice from your doctor or a professional. I know, from personal experience, that this is often a very hard step to take, especially if you’re trying to push through it with a brave face and without letting others know you’re struggling, but once you’ve taken this first step it can, and does, get better as you get the support and help you need.
So how can I feel happier?
There are a number of things you can do yourself to try and help boost your mood, why not give some of these a chance; they can be particularly helpful alongside any professional treatment or therapy you may be receiving too.
- Refocus negative thoughts to positive ones. This is easier said than done. But the way you look at something can have a massive impact and change everything! As you start doing this, unless you already happen to be Mary freakin’ Sunshine, you may find it’s a little forced. But persevere turning things around, looking on the sunny side, and you’ll find it does start to shift your thinking patterns helping the world seem less scary!
- Try to get a good night’s sleep. Of course if insomnia is one of your symptoms it’s going to be a bit trickier. If you can get into a regular sleeping pattern that’s great, but if you struggle just try to sleep as and when you can so your body can continue to function well.
- Re-evaluate your schedule and to-do list. There can be nothing more overwhelming that a lengthy to-do list or jam-packed schedule when you’re feeling less than perky. Review your schedule and wherever possible break down your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks, move appointments to allow you some breathing room. It’s okay to slow down a little. In addition to this try prioritising your to-do list and focus only on the key items. Try setting yourself some smaller goals too – like having a proper lunch-break each day or going to the gym a couple of times a week. By ticking off these smaller goals, you’ll get a feeling of achievement which will help boost your mood.
- Get into exercise. Another one that’s tricky when you’re down and lacking motivation, but going for a run, hitting the gym or simply going for a walk will make you feel better. Numerous studies have been done and show that when done regularly 30 minutes or more of exercise can improve the symptoms of depression.
- Eat healthy. This one is a no-brainer. Especially for us ladies with PCOS, as diet is so integral to managing the condition, it can be no surprise then that the saying ‘you are what you eat’ is somewhat true! What you eat affects your brain and your body, so it’s (even more) important to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein to help balance out hormones and your mood.
- Talk to the Not in a Doctor Doolittle way, but spend some time with animals and pets. Studies have shown that spending time petting a dog for just 15 minutes releases lots of feel-good hormones (Serotonin, Prolactin, Oxytocin) in addition to lowering stress hormones. As if I needed another reason to adore our furry friends!
- Colour your world. Whether it’s repainting your living room, mixing up your wardrobe or simply painting your nails a different colour, you can give yourself a boost by surrounding yourself with bright, happy colours. If you need some inspiration check out this page on colour association.
- Create a gratitude list. I’ve started doing this (using a nifty little app on my phone) and it has helped me feel much happier within myself. An attitude of gratitude is incredible and brings more happiness and abundance to your life. Take a moment each day and think about your life and list off all the things you are grateful for (no matter how big or small), it’s amazing how taking a moment to think about all that you have can provide you with feelings of love, gratitude for yourself and an appreciation for those around you.
- Pamper yourself. Book out some ‘me time’ and pamper yourself. You don’t have to pay to go to a spa or beauty salon. Get some of your favourite bubble bath, soak in the tub, have a face mask, paint your nails/toes, spend time on yourself and your body – it’ll thank you!
- Try relaxation techniques – massage, guided meditation, prayer, yoga, crystal healing, EFT or one of the many others out there, have a look around, read up on them and find the one that suits you best. Personally I’m a fan of massage and crystals – I carry around 2 large tumbled crystals (Amethyst and Selenite) that I get out and hold in my hands whilst undergoing some short, silent meditative thought and that often helps break me out of my funk.
- Dance like no-one’s watching… Create a playlist of your favourite songs, pop in your headphones or crank up the volume and dance around like crazy. It doesn’t have to be good, who cares? Just have fun and go with it. You’ll find this can chill you out and bring a smile to your face!
- Have a Sing-a-long. Yes, really. Now I’m a singer so I do this anyway, but research has shown that an organ in the inner ear is connected to a part of the brain that registers pleasure. Stimulate this by singing at the top of your voice (let it all out!) wherever you can, sing alone in the car, with a crowd, or as you’re doing the housework – it doesn’t matter if you’re great or if you’re pretty bad at holding a tune – just sing-a-long to some of your favourite tunes and notice how it helps.
- Try having a little bit of chocolate – the tryptophan contained in chocolate will boost your serotonin levels in the brain making you feel a little happier. But don’t overdo it, or mess with your sugar levels too much. If you’re going to turn to chocolate have a little dark chocolate!
- Perfect posture has also been shown to have an effect on the way we feel. Sitting or standing up straight with good posture and your head held high boosts hormone levels affecting confidence and lowering stress levels. Again it can be tricky to hold your head up high when you want the floor to open up and swallow you up, but trust me it’s worth it!
- Let your emotions out – a good cry can make you feel much better, let it all out and you can feel calmer and in a better position to take on the world.
- Get outside and smell the flowers – well not necessarily literally, but make an effort to get outside each day for some fresh air and take in your surroundings. A short walk outside in your lunch-break can help boost your mood and concentration levels for a productive afternoon. Plus who knows what you’ll see on your travels!
- You’re never fully dressed without a Smile! Studies have shown that smiling, even when faked, help trick the brain into feeling happiness and send a message throughout your body slowing your heart rate down and lowering levels of stress. It’s the most effective way of turning around your mood, but may require practice; it’s hard to smile when you’re feeling awful. But remember, ‘Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.’ (Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh).
- Go on have a giggle…Laughter will release endorphins and seotonin so you get the boost and feel naturally high. This is difficult if you’re feeling awful, but as with many things try faking it until you make it! A fake laugh will help prompt true laughter releasing the endorphins helping you anyway.
- Peer support; it’s excellent to have the support of family and friends when you are feeling down, but sometimes they don’t quite get it. That’s why it’s nice to reach out to your cysters (hooray for the Internet!) and talk it out, sharing with others or just reading about others can help you realise you are not alone. It’s incredible the amount of support that’s hiding out there if you only look for it.