Keep a Notebook. Writing in a notebook can help you process some of your thoughts and feelings when you are feeling overwhelmed, and help you to inform your doctor of progress or challenges. By making journaling a habit, you can also keep track of your progress over time, which can help you stay motivated.
Get Creative. Few things are as rewarding as seeing the physical fruits of your labor. Invest some time in a project, or try your hand at a new skill and start unleashing your creativity.
Get Outside. It’s been proven that time spent outside can boost your mood and practice mindfulness; set yourself an achievable goal of spending at least a few moments a day outside, and you’ll begin to feel rejuvenated and reconnected.
Get Regular Exercise. Exercise is the single most effective natural mood booster, and can be an incredibly useful tool for helping to manage your mood. You don’t have to pick up Olympic weightlifting, but committing to 30 minutes of exercise around 5 days a week will get you on the road to feeling your best.
Get Enough Sleep. Failing to get the sleep your body requires not only leaves you physically exhausted and feeling lethargic, but it lowers your defenses – giving your symptoms an opening to creep in and take over. Setting a regular sleep schedule and limiting screen time before bed can help you get the rest your body needs.
Reach Out. When you struggle with a mood disorder it becomes a natural temptation to withdraw or isolate. Unfortunately, this inclination to isolate only entrenches feelings of anxiety and depression. Consider these feelings a red flag, and an indication that you may need some support or encouragement. Call a friend or loved one, meet someone for coffee or a beer, and challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Taking a moment to do something, no matter small, for someone else helps take you mind of the thoughts and feelings that trouble you.
Practice Meditation. Though it may seem daunting, even a newbie can reap the rewards of meditation. Taking a few moments out of your day can help you find balance and refocus your energy. If you’re not sure where to begin, there are a number of free Apps available that offer a wonderful guided introductions to meditation (Calm, Headspace, and Guided Journey are great places to start). In addition to traditional meditative practices, activities like gardening, cooking, or creating/building something can offer similar benefits.
“Check In” with Yourself. Taking a few moments throughout the day to “check in” can help you keep the chaos at bay and process your feelings as they arise. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and having trouble initially identifying or labeling your feelings, the following format can help you get started:
I feel angry that… I feel happy that…
I feel sad that… I feel secure that…
I feel guilty that… I feel proud that…
I feel afraid that… I feel grateful that…
What do I need? In this moment? What can I do for myself today?
Unplug. Cut back on negative influences, including time spent on social media or watching television. Studies have shown that people who spend large amounts of time plugged into Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts inevitably express more dissatisfaction with their own lives. Limiting screen time can help you keep perspective, and prevent you from comparing your own life to someone else’s “highlight reel.”
Practice Gratitude. Battling a mood disorder can be discouraging, and exhausting. Try keeping a gratitude journal, or just take a minute before bed to name the things you are grateful for. Sometimes it can be hard to see the silver lining, but taking a few moments to literally count your blessings can help put things in perspective, and keep you motivated.