Feeling blue? You're not alone! We all feel sad at times; it's a normal human emotion. Sometimes, it's clear to see what has triggered our depression. Common reasons for feeling sad include bereavement, the end of a relationship, losing your job or money problems. But it's not always so clearcut.
You might yourself waking up every morning feeling lethargic, with no energy for anything except lying on the couch and watch box sets. You might be feeling frustrated and sad that you haven't tackled any of those chores that are waiting for you. Maybe you're feeling isolated and lonely, or unsupported by your friends and family.
Sometimes you might compare yourself unfavourably to others who seem to have a perfect life, or you might be suffering from a range of vague aches and pains. You might be brooding on those kilos you've piled on recently or be worried about a mountain of unpaid bills. But what else causes those "meh" days when we feel sad - and what can we do to feel better?
Here are some reasons that might be causing you to feel dejected:
The grey skies and shorter hours of daylight in the winter can make us feel sad, and some people are more susceptible to this effect than others. During spring, people spend more time outside, and their moods improve. Researchers also found that our cognitive, problem solving and creative abilities improve in the spring and summer.
Some people are more deeply affected by the changing seasons. They may suffer from a condition known as Seasonally Affective Disorder or SAD, when the winter blues develop into clinical depression, with changes in sleep patterns, motivation and appetite. More women than men are affected by this disorder.
If you're suffering from the winter blues, try to spend some time outside every day, whenever the weather permits. Some people find that a daylight lamp can improve their mood, or try Bach flower mix 92, which helps to banish gloomy thoughts and lift the spirits.
Our stress responses evolved to cope with very different kinds of stressors than those we're required to deal with today. We rarely need to run away from ferocious beasts and then relax, but we have to cope with the chronic stresses of the modern world. Financial worries, work pressures, and lengthy commutes are worries that are difficult to escape and that we have little control over.
When we're facing multiple stresses without any recovery time, it can leave us feeling drained and discouraged, without any resilience to allow us to bounce back. If you feel that your stress levels are building up and your life is just a burden, meditation, yoga and regular exercise can help. Bach Flowers also allows you to cope with stressful times, addressing issues such as insomnia, panic attacks and poor concentration. Sharing your feelings can also help - if you don't want to talk to a family member or friend, you might feel more able to open up to a counsellor or therapist.
Our hormones influence many of our bodily functions, including metabolism, growth, sexual function and mood. Low levels of certain hormones, for example, those secreted by the thyroid, are too low, can be the cause of depression. Hormones also fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, and a woman may experience a low mood and irritability in the week before her period.
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture can be useful in regulating hormones. Bach flower mix 60 can also help to lift your mood and restore your equilibrium.
Are you burdened with an inner critic who's always criticising and judging your every action? Especially when things aren't going well? This critical inner voice doubles down on anything negative by blaming you for what's happened. It undermines you and stops you from enjoying positive events by telling you that you don't deserve it or that it won't last.
These negative thoughts take the enjoyment out of life and are likely to make you feel sad and gloomy. When you're troubled by fears and worries, take a pen and paper and write them down - then screw the sheet of paper up and throw it away! Creating a document and then dragging it into the trash works equally well.
Many people in Northern Europe don't have sufficient vitamin D, and this is linked to a higher risk of depression. We get some vitamin D from foods such as egg yolks, oily fish and fortified breakfast cereals and the body also produces this essential substance from sunlight. The reasons for the insufficiency aren't proven, but scientists link it to lack of exposure to sunlight and poor nutrition.
Large scale studies in the Netherlands have shown that Vitamin D levels were 14% lower in people with moderate to severe depression compared to those not suffering from depressive disorders. So if you're feeling blue, you might want to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms per day.
It can often be challenging to establish the reasons why you're feeling blue. If you experience a low mood for more than two weeks, consider consulting a doctor to exclude any underlying medical factors.
Do you suffer from a disorder known as "musturbation"? This term was first coined in the 1950s by psychotherapist Albert Ellis and described the way a negative inner voice rules our minds and bludgeons us with words such as "must", "should", and "ought".
If you're worried that the world is changing too fast, you're not alone: technology is constantly developing, and it can be challenging to keep up with all the changes. As a result, many people - not just the older generations - feel anxious that they might get left behind.
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It's not always easy to tell if someone has depression. While some signs such as sadness, pessimism and withdrawal from social interaction are easy to recognise, other symptoms may be less obvious. And some people are very good at hiding their depression - even from themselves!
When you think about things that will make you happy, what are the images that come to mind? Wealth, beauty, a dream house, long holidays, a top of the range car? Happiness is not a constant and how happy we feel depends on the way we choose to live our lives.
Have you ever noticed that some people are instantly likeable? Many people believe that people will only like you because of natural traits you're born with: good looks, talent and sociability. But this is a misconception. Getting people to like you is within your control, and it's all to do with self-belief, knowing yourself and being emotionally intelligent. Here's what to do to be more likeable.
It's natural to compare our own lives with those of others - weighing up the pros and cons of situations helps us make decisions. But there can be a downside when you find you're constantly comparing yourself with others, envying their seemingly perfect lives and wondering why they are luckier, more prosperous, and better looking than you.
You see the word "toxic" everywhere these days, but what does it really mean? You've almost certainly come across someone who fits the description. Dealing with difficult personalities can be challenging and emotionally exhausting, to say the least.
Do you sometimes feel your achievements are not the result of your hard work and skill but are just luck? And do you fear that one day, someone will reveal you as an imposter or fraud? You might have imposter syndrome!
Facing the loss of a family member or close friend is probably one of the most difficult challenges that life throws at us. When we've lost a partner, parent, brother or sister, we're likely to experience intense grief.
Are you unsure which Bach flowers can help you? Contact Tom for free advice.