Are you suffering a slump? A Guide to Coping with Low Mood

Are you suffering a slump? A Guide to Coping with Low Mood

Advice and tips from Donna Dawson - a psychologist who specialises in personality and behaviour.

Low Mood: Are we a nation of SLUMPers?

A recent online survey conducted amongst 3,000 UK adults suggests that we are a nation of SLUMPers – that’s ‘Slightly, Low Unhappy Moody People’. Almost 70% of people admitted that they often feel down or unhappy, without knowing why.

Although not as serious as depression, low mood can still affect your daily activities and stop you from living life to the full. Modern life and everyday ups and downs can often take their toll, but fortunately there are a few lifestyle changes and tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to help lift your mood.

Did you Know?

  • People feel at their ‘lowest’ at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
  • Women tend to suffer from low moods more than men – with almost 75% of women saying that they often feel low or unhappy compared to 55% of men.

What’s the difference between a SLUMP and depression?

A low mood normally becomes problematic when it is frequent, persistent and begins to seriously affect work and your relationships. If you feel like this you could be suffering from depression and should see your GP. However, it is normal to feel a bit down and low from time to time and this is usually a response to the challenges that life throws at you.

How to spot if you are in a SLUMP

When you suffer from low mood, it often manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Tiredness
  • Irritability with family and friends
  • No energy
  • No drive
  • Everyday things seem like a chore

What factors can trigger a SLUMP?

There are many things which can set off a low mood. These can range from a bad day at work to crowded public transport. There are of course more serious factors like health, money and relationship problems which can all play a significant part in how happy, or not, you are feeling.

Did you Know?

  • An overwhelming 55% of people cite money worries as the main reason for feeling down in the dumps.
  • You are not alone. 65% of people get frustrated because they are in a ‘slump’ and don’t know how to get out of it!

Ten Tips for avoiding and dealing with a SLUMP

Donna Dawson is a psychologist, specialising in personality and behaviour.

Exercise more:

Regular exercise is a great way to avoid the threat of low moods – it gets the blood flowing and releases feel-good endorphins – nature’s instant mood lifters.

Get a daily dose of sunlight:

Don’t stay cooped up in your dark, over-heated, poorly ventilated office or home. Natural sunlight can help to synchronize our body rhythms (sleeping, eating, sex drive), through stimulating or suppressing hormones. Without enough natural light, hormones can become unbalanced and cause mood disturbances such as low feelings and depression. On sunny or even cloud-covered days, take a walk every day or eat your lunch on a park bench.

Make your home sunnier and brighter:

Keep curtains open and blinds up when you are home, add skylights to your house, and trim tree branches that block light. Yellow flowers work best at cheering us up visually, so plant them in the garden and keep vases of them around the house. At work, sit next or close to a bright window if possible.

Simplify your life:

Keep clutter to a minimum, as it can exacerbate SLUMP symptoms. Have a good tidy up and a clear out. Anything that makes you feel more organised and in control will make you happier.

Rest Easy:

Ensure that you get enough rest, especially during the winter months. People suffering from a winter ‘slump’ often complain of feeling tired throughout the day; this could be due to not getting enough sleep for your individual needs, or having a disturbed sleeping period. Going to bed an hour earlier or using earplugs at night could help you get a better nights sleep and give you more energy the next day.

Keep Busy:

Make time for the things that you enjoy doing – if life is all about work, responsibilities and doing things for others, then you will soon succumb to the SLUMP. Spend ‘quality time’ with your family or partner, socialise with friends, work on a hobby or sport, or join an Adult Education course.

Reach Out:

Let others know how you feel, and talk to them about your feelings and symptoms. Chances are that you are not alone! A word of support or advice from a friend or loved one, a shoulder to lean on or a joke shared can help to lighten your symptoms.

Sensory experiences:

Use all your senses to help boost your spirits. Our sense of smell, is the only sense that is directly linked to the emotional part of the brain, and so a ‘smell’ associated with happy childhood memories, a cherished holiday or a summery day (in the form of a perfume, scented candle or bath products) can recreate those uplifting moments.

Dealing with food cravings:

Eat a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling happy and to strengthen your immune system. Often when we are down we crave comfort foods such as the simple carbohydrates (e.g. cakes and biscuits). This sugar rush gives us a burst of energy, but is followed by a longer low where we feel more tired than before. Unrefined ‘complex’ carbohydrates such as brown bread, pasta and rice, will release a steady stream of sugar into the bloodstream and help maintain your energy over a longer period of time.

Dealing with Stress:

Stress can lead to SLUMP symptoms such as feeling down, over-eating and negative thinking. Try practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation, yoga, muscle-relaxation, and deep-breathing. Visualisation can be particularly effective: take five minutes whenever possible just to escape to “your special place” in your head, whether it’s a tropical island, mountaintop or garden. Use all your senses, and see, hear, smell and feel it in minute detail. Imagine yourself there, feeling deeply relaxed. Then get up, stretch your arms and legs, wiggle your fingers and toes, and roll your shoulders and neck. Just a few minutes of visualisation daily can help to keep stress from building up.

Q&A with Donna Dawson

Q: I am 33 and lately have started to feel down in the dumps at the slightest thing. I also snap at my husband and children for no reason. I really dislike myself when I’m in one of these moods, what can I do to keep things under control?

A: Feeling “out of control” can sap self-esteem and make you feel moody, irritable and low. Also, at any stage in our lives, we can start feeling down about the way our lives are going. The next time you feel like this, try to see yourself in the third person: picture yourself floating above yourself and looking down. This gives you perspective on your problems and minimises them somewhat. Try to identify a specific problem for which you will try to find an answer. Take good care of yourself (exercise boosts the natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains), delegate household chores and find some “me time” everyday. Make some specific short-term goals for things that you’ve always wanted to achieve, and work towards them. When you feel better about yourself, it becomes easier to be kinder to everyone.

Q: I am 25 and have recently started a university course – something I have dreamed of since leaving school at 16. Although I should be happy, I feel a bit low and anxious when I’m there, especially as I’m a mature student and don’t know anyone. To make things worse, I now feel guilty about this, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Can you help?

A: Everyone feels anxiety at the beginning of something ‘new’, and there is also the fear about whether you are “up to it” (as a ‘mature student’ you may feel especially vulnerable to this). Remember that everyone else is in the same boat – only some people are better at appearing confident. Worrying makes you feel ‘guilty’, which in turn makes you feel more ‘anxious’, and what you need to do is to turn outwards. Do this physically by joining clubs and societies where you can make friendships based on shared interests and likes. Do this psychologically by opening yourself up to others: smile, ask how people are getting on, and be interested in what they say to you. Develop the skills of a ‘good listener’. The more interest that you can show in others, the more people will want to know you, and the less time you will have to worry!

Case study

Lucy, 36 from Stratford Upon Avon is a call centre manager and found herself feeling low after her relationship broke up last year.

She says: “Although my relationship ended mutually and in a friendly manner, it left me feeling a bit listless and down in the dumps. I wouldn’t say I was depressed, just a bit low. I felt tired a lot and just wanted to stay in and hibernate. My mum suggested that I try St John’s Wort to help lift my mood a little and get me back on track. It’s been great – I’ve been taking it for 3 months now and together with regular exercise, I feel it’s stopped my low moods from getting out of control.”

This is Lucy’s personal experience; the benefits of this product will be experienced differently by different people.

Try KarmaMood

New KarmaMood® is the first registered St.John’s Wort medicine to relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety based on traditional use only. KarmaMood Max® also contains the highest strength of St John’s Wort (425mg per tablet). It is available at major pharmacies and health food stores nationwide.

KarmaMood is a traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

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