At some point, all of us will experience feeling blue. With the many stressors of life, it’s completely normal to feel down. There are also moments where we may experience being down in the dumps without a clear reason.
Over time those feelings pass, even if they don’t feel like they will at the moment. Sometimes it’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of negativity and we find ourselves spending a substantial amount of time enveloped in sadness.
While sadness is a normal emotion, if your feelings of sadness are persistent, you may be depressed. It’s important to differentiate between feeling blue and being depressed.
Feeling Blue vs. Being Depressed: What’s the Difference?
Feeling blue or being a little down means you feel sadness. It’s common to experience a range of emotions as you go through different things in life. Most times though, when people are feeling down, they bounce back.
Also, having the blues is usually mild when compared to being depressed.
On the other hand, if your sadness is excessive and interferes with your daily life, you may be experiencing depression.
Clinical depression also referred to as major depression is a medical condition that is more than the usual ups and downs of life. Symptoms of depression include:
- A persistent feeling of sadness
- Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed
- Low energy or fatigue
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight changes
- Changes in appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
Most times with treatment, people experiencing depression see their symptoms improve.
Another difference to point out is that countless factors impact your mood and can leave you feeling blue. Depression can be triggered by a stressful life event, your environment or your current situation. It’s also believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain or genetics.
Some people who struggle with depression are often living what appears to be a “good” life. Depression can occur for anyone at any time regardless of how well things are going in their life.
True clinical depression is far more intense than just feeling blue.
For more information on the difference between feeling sad and being depressed, you can read this article.
If your sadness lasts a short period, you’re likely just feeling blue. The good thing is there are things you can do to boost your mood.
10 Tips to Boost Your Mood When You're Feeling Blue
Exercise has been proven to produce endorphins which are “feel good” chemicals in our bodies.
People who incorporate regular exercise into their daily lives see positive changes in their moods.
When planning your exercise routine, it’s essential to pick something you enjoy so that you feel good about doing it. Between running, walking, biking, yoga, and at-home cardio workouts, there are numerous options for you to choose from.
Start moving your body frequently and you will likely notice an improvement in your mood.
2. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
We all know how important sleep is for our mental health. The quality of our sleep impacts our mood. When we lack sleep, it can cause irritability, anxiety, and stress.
That being said, sometimes going to sleep can be difficult. If you find that you’re constantly struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, you may have a sleep disorder known as insomnia.
Addressing any sleep problems you have will be key to improving your mood and overall health. Some ways you can treat insomnia include:
- Having a regular bedtime routine
- Going to bed at the same time
- Limiting caffeine
- Limiting electronic use before bedtime
- Meditating before bed
- Relaxation techniques
- Seeking professional treatment such as therapy and medication
Once you’re able to get a good night’s rest, you will notice you wake up feeling happy and refreshed.
3. Spend Time Outdoors
Being in nature has many healing benefits. There’s something about breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sunlight on your skin, and admiring the trees that instantly boosts your mood.
Research shows that spending time in nature is beneficial to individuals with depression. Being outdoors can also ease anxiety and reduce stress.
There are various activities you can engage in outdoors. Some of these include:
- Walking or running
- Having a picnic at the park
- Going on a hike
- Taking pictures of the scenery
Laughter is indeed the best medicine. Laughter increases dopamine in the brain which elevates mood.
It can also help us feel more relaxed because it calms down our stress response system.
The next time you’re feeling down, try putting on a funny movie or TV show to see if it boosts your mood.
5. Listen to Upbeat Music
Most of us are music lovers but even if you’re not, there’s no denying that listening to an upbeat song is an instant mood booster. Music influences our mood. The same way hearing a sad song can bring tears to your eyes, an upbeat song can put a smile on your face.
One thing you can try is creating a playlist compiled of happy music for you to play when you need to be uplifted. Also, if you’re really feeling the music you can take it a step further by dancing to what you’re listening to.
Dance like no one is watching. Dancing can feel silly at times but it’s a great way to alleviate feelings of sadness.
6. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude helps people feel more positive. It’s normal when we’re feeling down to forget about all of the good going on in our life.
Gratitude is about being thankful and appreciative of what you have.
Regularly practicing gratitude can change your outlook on life and improve your mental health.
You can start expressing gratitude by writing about what you’re grateful for. You can also let the people in your life know you’re thankful for them.
Here is an article with more ways to express gratitude.
7. Talk It Out With Someone
Sometimes opening up to someone about what you’re going through can help you work through what you’re feeling.
Your friends and loved ones are here to support you. They will validate your feelings and might also be able to offer some words of encouragement.
It’ll also help to spend time with those in your support system because they can serve as a distraction from your feelings.
8. Tap Into Your Creative Side
There are numerous ways to express yourself. Another way to improve your mood is to express yourself creatively.
Creative expression is a fun way to sort through your feelings and can even divert your attention away from your low mood.
Some creative activities you can try include:
- Painting or drawing
- Doing crafts
- Making time to play
- Cooking a new meal
- Playing a musical instrument
9. Take A Mental Health Day
We all have responsibilities to make sure we’re taking care of; however, sometimes the best thing for us to do is do nothing at all. Of course, not everyone has the privilege of taking a day off. If you’re able to, take a mental health day and spend the day relaxing.
Don’t stress yourself out by having a to-do list filled with tasks to complete. We all deserve a break from our busy lives. If you wake up in the morning and you’re in a funk, consider giving yourself a break.
10. Practice Self-care
Some people view self-care as taking a bubble bath or doing a face mask. While these activities are certainly ways to care for ourselves, sometimes self-care is doing more mundane tasks such as washing the week-old dishes, cleaning your bedroom or scheduling overdue doctor’s appointments.
Self-care is about taking care of and having a healthy relationship with yourself.
Fighting the Blues
It’s important to remember that what you’re feeling is only temporary and it will pass. Even though dealing with a low mood doesn’t feel good, try to keep in mind that being a little sad is normal and you can usually manage it on your own. By using any of these tips, you can healthily fight the blues.
Because of the ups and downs of life, our emotions can change daily. By looking at recent life events, you may be able to identify the cause of your sadness.
If your sadness lingers or you think you may be experiencing depression, it could be time to seek professional help. There is nothing wrong with needing support from a therapist or coach and over time you will start feeling better.