Beating Back the Blues

Learn to manage your moods

We can all benefit from learning behavioral skills that make difficult days easier, says Coral Arvon, Ph.D, LMFT, LCSW - Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at the Pritikin Center, “because when we’re feeling out of sorts, our healthy intentions may fall out of sorts, too.

Beating the Blues: How to Manage Your Moods

Depression is a serious mental health disorder. However, we all have periods where we feel down or unmotivated. Fortunately, these feelings can be prevented and corrected.

The natural tendency is not to exercise, not to go grocery shopping for whole fresh foods, not to finish that project at work, but rather just plop down in front of the TV with a box of our favorite unhealthy snack,” observes Dr. Arvon.

When you’re in the blahs, you’re also more likely to turn down social invitations and other activities that require effort.

To stop this downward spiral, keep in mind the old slogan “Just do it,” Dr. Arvon advises guests at the Pritikin Center. “We’ve all heard that ‘half of life is showing up.’ When you’re under the weather, this is great advice!”

And every day until you’re feeling better, increase your pleasure and self-respect with small actions.  They will liven your spirits.

Try the following antidote, suggests Dr. Arvon:

Activity Planning For Mood Improvement:

  1. Take a piece of notebook paper.
  2. List the days of the week in a column on the left.
  3. Make two columns on the top labeled “Pleasure” and “Self Respect.”
  4. Each night before bed, select one activity that would ordinarily be enjoyable and a second one that would usually make you feel some small sense of accomplishment.
  5. Write them down in the appropriate column.
  6. The next day, just do them (!), whether you want to or not.
  7. Within a few days, you’ll start to feel less “blah.”

“This easy exercise can even be helpful for mild depression,” affirms Dr. Arvon. “When people are sad, they become immobilized, and by doing less, their mood gets even worse. But by following through with these simple strategies despite your mood, you’ll find that soon you’re actually enjoying the movie you didn’t have the energy or desire to see.”

“And make sure,” adds Dr. Arvon, “to shower, get dressed, and look as if you’re feeling well.  When it comes to the blues, ‘pretending’ is a good thing, because with time it becomes authentic.”

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