Low mood be over: how?
September 12, 2013 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Low energy/mood/will in the past weeks- now feeling the desire to get back on track, but I'm unsure about the way to go about it. I'd love to have your take on some ideas I have and how to put them into practice.

I've been in a low/bad mood for the past few weeks, following a stressful handful of months. I feel like I have moderately low level of energy, as though I know I should be doing something -something productive or at least fun-, but instead end up laying in bed and watching videos or TV or surfing the Net; then the feeling of guilt -spontaneous and induced by my parents- for NOT fulfilling my academic duties settles in and makes things worse. I feel like the quality of my sleep has not been great either, which probably makes my energy decrease even more.

The good part: I don't think I'm depressed, because I can still take pleasure out of small things, like listening to a song or talking to my boyfriend. In the past few days I've also felt like my mind or body is telling me to get over this 'low mood' phase: I've felt the desire to do something to sort out my exam plan, get back in action, start studying regularly again. I feel like doing something new would help too. Here's where you all come into play:

-any suggestions on how to ease yourself back in the swing of things after you've been in standby for a while?
-what would be a good new activity to take up? I'd like something that doesn't require to think too much- to 'get out of my head' for a while and maybe do things with my hands, physically, possibly at home. I enjoyed baking, for instance, but it's a bit of an issue to do it at my place. (My father is a clean freak and breaths down your neck to check how you clean afterwards and such etc.) I would start working out, but my right knee is not in great shape right now, so...
-sometimes I feel as though I'd be better off living on my own, since my own familiar environment is not too well balanced. I own a nearby house, but it's not furnished and would require lots of work and money to make it a real home and I'd feel bad about asking my parents to invest money in that for me to leave them. Are there any low-cost ways to turn it into a decent place I could spend a few hours at when I need more 'breathing room'?
-do you think a new haircut or subtle changes in appearance could help too?
-any food or natural supplement that help lifting mood is very welcome too. (I take royal jelly and have been for years, btw.) I've heard good things about saffron- has anyone tried that?
posted by opalshards to Human Relations (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Wait, you live with your parents? And they support you financially? Even though you own your own house? And the reason for that is that your house is unfurnished, so you don't want to live there because it's not a "real home?" And you're not moving out because you feel that in order to move out, your parents would have to buy you furniture?

I think you need to move out of your parents' house. I think you need to move to your own house, even if it means sleeping on a mattress on the floor in a house with no air conditioning and old appliances, or whatever. Because your parents are not helping your situation. The combination of them nagging you to do stuff and making you feel guilty for not doing anything, and then nagging you about the way you do stuff and making you feel guilty for not doing it right, is really destructive. And you need to get away from that.

You're an adult. Move out. Once you're independent, even if you're poor, many of your reasons for not doing other stuff will fall away.
posted by decathecting at 11:42 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Goig outside on a regular basis, if you're not doing that already, would probably help a lot. It doesn't matter much what you do once you're there. Just catching some daylight will most likely help lift your mood and make you more active.

Maybe you could combine that with making your own home into a place you want to live in. Does it have a garden that you can work in?

Another activity that's low-cost, gets you out of the house and will help furnish your own house: go cheap furniture-hunting. Use sources like Craigslist and see what you can find.

If you find something that could be nice once it gets some TLC (like paint, or new fabric): voila, you have a project!
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:16 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Consider yoga - it's great for clearing your head, but keeping your body moving.
posted by aimedwander at 12:16 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

You own a house? How much work does it need to make it safe and somewhat ok to live in? The fact that you are living with your parents and own a house (barring further details) is a bit weird, considering your comment about noting being able to enjoy things like baking because of your dad in your current situation.

I'm going to take another angle on your question about finding ways to make your own place a space to breath in. I would take it on as a project to make it a home for you to enjoy and move into. Furniture can be cheap (free cycle, craighlist, asking around, yard sales) and you can upgrade over time. If it needs work, can you figure out ways to do the work yourself or start a plan on how to tackle the major things? Paint is cheap and awesome to make a place feel homey. I'm moving to a new place In a couple weeks and we plan on upgrading a room at a room as we can afford it.

In the meantime, exercise will help quite a bit. Try low impact activities like walking, swimming maybe a swimming fitness class? My girlfriend has a bum knee and swears by aquafit at her local pool. Vitamin d and omega 3 make a big difference in my mood, as does eating healthy (for me this means mostly veggies and 5-6 small meals a day to help with my blood sugar. Yoga is also really helpful, I just started a routine again and am taking it slow, but am feeling better so far.
posted by snowysoul at 12:31 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

People experiencing depression (or dysthymia) can still take pleasure in things, contrary to popular belief. You might want to look into that.

As for things you can do, I find it helpful to arrange plans with a friend who'll come right by my place to pick me up. It makes it much easier to ignore the part of my brain that's saying "blarghhhh let's just stay in bed".
posted by vasi at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Go for a walk every morning rain or shine. Before bed put out your sneakers and walking clothes. First thing in the morning put on your sweats and go for a walk.

There are three components at work here:
- exercise lifts mood (even for people with depression)
- routines make consistent behavior easier
- you start each day with self care.
posted by 26.2 at 12:37 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same club as you, starting last weekend.

I could give you a laundry list of reasons I'm feeling the way I am (having low energy, unusually introverted, tending to isolate, feeling overwhelmed by unpleasant, but simple tasks, to name a few), some of the reasons I can come up with off the top of my head are: (finally) trying to tackle my bad credit, a new dog, a broken down second hobby car with no means to fix it... and well, to 9/11... but the truth is I honestly don't know. And honestly, that's OK.

I understand that I could possibly be depressed, and that if I am, I'm likely not the best judge of my own mental condition, but for whatever reason, I just don't "feel" depressed. More just "out of steam."

One thing, I do know, however, is that contrary to my long held belief of "mind over matter" that for me when it comes to being in a weird funk, my mind is likely the source of the problem, and cannot be relied upon to fix the situation.

Given enough time thinking about my issues and why I shouldn't be feeling this way (people starving, paraplegics, cancer, etc. etc.) which usually result in me feeling better for three seconds about my life, followed by an additional nagging guilt when I start feeling bad again, and I can work myself into my go-to fantasy of packing up the car and heading off to a remote valley in Minnesota where I will live off the land in a tent, all alone with nothing but a friendly wolf. Mind you, I know I'd probably last about 4 seconds if I actually tried this, but in these mental states, it's my current life that is the prison, and my obligations are the warden and guards, that are keeping me down. In reality, however, this is the farthest thing from the truth. I know that, but the problem is that I don't feel it.

In fact, I struggled for a long time with the realization that my feelings trump my thinking, but for me, it's the truth. It's why someone can cut me off on one day and I merely smile, and at another time, someone can cut me off, and I'll spend the rest of the commute fantasizing about following them home and slashing their tires.

Action is the key here, doing something positive, regardless of whether I want to or not. The way my emotional self works, it starts from action, which affects how I feel, which in turn affects the way I think. As noted above, I wasted a lot of time trying to think myself into a positive state of mind, when all it really takes is some simple, yet constructive actions.

Call a friend. Ask them about their day and try to refrain from complaining about mine.
Clean something I've been putting off for a bit.
Go for a walk and try to notice things I haven't before.
Do something nice for someone, and don't tell anyone that I did it.
Do esteemable things. Actively try to be kind, considerate, honest, loving, and patient. Help someone else, especially if I don't necessarily want to right now.

The self-esteem I get from doing these things, despite myself, pays off in dividends.

Speaking of which, I think I got some things that need doing...
posted by Debaser626 at 12:58 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

http://www.youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/2013/07/09/alternatives-to-self-harm/ i found this has helped me when I've been in a low mood try and force yourself to do something even if you dont want to
posted by elphbawickedwitch at 2:15 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

People have covered exercise, outdoors, dysthymia so I'll say one thing that helped me in a low-but-not-depressed mood was writing a short positive note or quote and putting it on top of the clothes I had set out for the next day. Waking up and seeing it while half asleep was kind of this nice surprise. Like a love note from myself the night before. Which sounds so incredibly cheesy but it worked, and it's fast and cheap.
posted by sweetkid at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I'm in a snotty mood I found proper old fashioned letter writing very soothing and quite enjoyable way to spend an hour or two.

I don't write anything particularly profound but do enjoy keeping up with distant friends or relations or even other random people you might like to write to, saying hi / sharing your news / letting them know you're thinking about them / really loved the book they wrote / song they sang / or TV show they were in.

Its cheap easy way to feel good about yourself but also has the added bonus sometimes of them writing back which can be quite a happy surprise too, and even becoming a regular correspondent ;)
posted by Middlemarch at 3:24 AM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your input and help.

To answer a few questions: the house was still bought by my parents and with their own money and only then legally given to me, but I don't really feel as though I can really call it mine, because it wasn't purchased by me, you know? (It was an investment once the economy seemed to become really unstable here.) I'm a full time student and couldn't afford to live on my own right now, even if I did find a part-time job (which is increasingly difficult where I live), hence my idea of trying to make maybe one room of the house more comfortable, just to be able to spend a few hours there.

I really like the idea of making that into a project, as some of you stated- I could start going to Ikea or painting a room...eventhough I don't have any experience in the field. No, it doesn't have a garden, but maybe I could get a potted plant or something of the sort, a low-requirement one. Ideas about it?

I feel like before taking on any exercise, I will have to assess my knee situation first, considering I may need physiotherapy for that.

@Debaser626: I really understand how you feel! My guess, for people in our current mood, is that thinking too much can only help making us come up with reasons why we should feel the way we do- quite frankly, almost everyone can find reasons to feel sad if they want to- which help maintaining the current situation, reinforcing the sadness and making it legitimate. It's why I think it's better to do something manually, physically, rather than taking up intellectual hobbies. Hopefully we'll both be able to feel better soon. Good luck!
posted by opalshards at 12:18 PM on September 14, 2013

I own a nearby house, but it's not furnished and would require lots of work and money to make it a real home

Does it have running water, electricity, heat, and a roof that doesn't leak?

Just move there already. You probably already own a bed. If you feel you simply must have other furniture before you move, you should be able to pick up some things at yard sales or thrift stores. You are way too hung up on this "feeling like a home" when you have a different place to live and aren't happy in your current situation. It doesn't feel like a home right now because you don't live there.

You seem worried about how your parents will feel about you moving away from them -- they bought a house and gave it to you! They might be wondering when you are going to move out and give them some space and privacy already.
posted by yohko at 9:00 PM on September 15, 2013

« Older Fresh corn recipes   |   Song ID: UK house hit, late '80s - early '90s Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.