10 Chemical-Free Strategies to Trick Yourself Out of the Blues

“You largely constructed your depression. It wasn’t given to you. Therefore, you can deconstruct it.”

– Albert Ellis

10 Chemical-Free Strategies to Trick Yourself Out of the BluesDepression is one of those things that throws your entire life out of synch. And it camouflages itself so well: That headache that won’t go away; the knot in your stomach; the recurring mouth ulcer all signs of depression.

While it certainly would be nice to be able to just call time out whenever you’re feeling a bit depressed, in the real world we actually have to learn how to manage it effectively.

And while serious depression calls for medications like Cymbalta, if all you need is some help rising above life’s little letdowns, try manipulating your mood with these quick mental fakeouts.

1. Put on a blue shirt.

Researchers found blue is generally relaxing (which is why shrinks tell their patients to stare at the sky), while orange is the biggest irritant. Red and purple, by the way, suggest power. Wear them to work and act like a big shot; people will subconsciously obey.

2. Pause your mental TiVo.

Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and quickly count to ten while strongly pressing your right thumb and forefinger together. Now do the same with your left hand. Repeat five times. Mentally stepping away from your problems will clear your mind.

3. Recruit an anger buddy.

Find a thick-skinned friend who’ll let you verbally assault him when the situation warrants. Make sure you’re willing to return the favor. No takers? Go ahead and fire off a string of four-letter words — just make sure the tirade is brief, private, and somewhat controlled. A study by Norwich’s University of East Anglia (UEA) into leadership styles found the use of “taboo language” boosted team spirit.

4. Fabricate a smile.

Grin, laugh, waggle your eyebrows, walk with a bounce in your step, whistle. According to experts people who are manipulated into smiling report feeling better instantly. Going through the motions can trigger the emotions. Just try to remain angry with a smile on your face — it’s impossible.

5. Clean your room.

Most people don’t’ realize how much clutter causes stress, but it’s true that living in a mess can drain you of time, energy, and even money, creating significant amounts of additional stress. Visual confusion makes us uneasy, so remove jagged edges — pick clothes off the floor, remove glasses from the coffee table, make your bed. Visual confusion can work for you, too: Don’t want people to linger in your office? Clutter your desk.

6. Climb the stairway to heaven.

Music has been shown to reduce stress and have a positive effect on health. And you don’t need a therapist to enjoy some of the benefits music has to offer. Everyone responds to sound differently, but hearing your favorite music — whether it’s Zeppelin or Fresh Aire — will energize, motivate, and relax.

7. Order Chinese.

Call and order the ginger chicken with broccoli. According to recent research ginger and broccoli may temporarily help relieve depression. And throw your tastebuds a change-up by putting OJ in your coffee or peanut butter on your toast. Or eat something naturally contradictory, such as sweet-and-sour chicken. Varying textures work, too — try popcorn or nuts.

8. Dot your eyes.

Draw two dots an inch or so apart on a piece of white paper. Stare at the space between them with an out-of-focus gaze until they merge. Release and repeat three times. This instantly mellows.

9. Sniff a lemon.

So underrated, nice smells (fresh fruit, a looming thunderstorm, just-mowed grass) can turn your beat around. A good cigar may seem tempting, but tobacco is a downer. If stress has been bugging you for some time and you need a deeper sense of relaxation, go for herbs like Passionflower, Lemon Balm, and St. John’s Wort. As a stress relief, these herbs are excellent for stress due to overwork and nervous tension.

10. Chop till you drop.

Hack up an onion and pound a steak. Then dig out the Weber and fire it up. Let the aroma waft through the neighbourhood. Sit on a garden chair and drink a beer. You are now in touch with your primal self. Destroying and creating at the same time is the ultimate mood lifter. Soon, you will find it easier to smile.

The main thing to remember is that crankiness is just your brain’s response to outside stimuli, so if you change the stimuli, you can change your mood. Start doing it now!

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12 Comments

  • Really good points there, think I’m gonna have to link to it.

  • I’ve found taking a walk also helps. There’s something to do with moving that can help give you a more positive attitude.

    I also like meditating. Getting “centered” makes it harder to feel depressed.

    Then there’s figuring out what’s bothering you. Usually, there’s something going on subconsciously that you’re not recognizing. Rooting it out and thinking about it can have an immediate, permanent effect.

  • Jon says:

    So many of these sites miss the main ingredient to fighting depression and other sorts of mental illnesses. EXERCISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Relieves stress..half an hour on the treadmill a couple times a week is all it takes!!

    • Ray says:

      I agree with Jon. Excercise is so important and never mentioned on these kind of websites as a mood booster AKA depression buster

  • Chris says:

    I really liked the shirts one.

    Cheers

  • Person says:

    Do marijuana. Helps against depression (proved) and doesn’t cause health problems (if you use a vaporizer or eat it).

  • Ben says:

    There are some very good points here and I would like to add the following humble suggestions.

    I have a herb garden with a dozen different culinary herbs. Crushing a few leaves in my hand in the morning and having a deep smell usually gets my day off to a good start.

    I would also recommend switching the TV off when suffering the blues. Exposing oneself to the “If it bleeds it leads style of news reporting” and watching ads that are designed to make you feel inadequate about your life unless you buy the latest and greatest (insert product here) don’t do much for one’s mental health.

    Finally I would eat some fresh seasonal fruit instead of junk food. The summer fruits are starting in Australia and the taste and smell of a fresh peach is one of the best parts of summer.

  • hugh says:

    Nice. I know a few things about psychology. I think Mr. Ellis would approve of this effort, but i’m not sure he would be sanguine about the methods. Don’t get me wrong: I really hope they all work. In any case, they are all better suggestions than permitting depression to rule your life. The fact is, however, that to get out of depression fast you need three things in conjunction: Exercise, proper diet, and medication. None of those things alone work as good as all together, and that is according to research.
    Hugh
    4th year psychology student
    UBC Okanagan

  • Dave says:

    Hey Hugh,
    There are many different applications and methodology when it comes to psychology. While I totally agree that to pull someone out of depression FAST you will need a combination of exercise, proper diet, and of course medication. However, medication seems to be a short term fix for the problem of depression. Most MAJOR cases of depression will require long term medication but also close supervision and long term psychological care. There are a lot of doctors that are taking a more natural, and less medicated approach to treating depression. And again let me say that these therapies are NOT a good idea for those dealing with severe psychological problems such as, Manic Disorders, severe Hypomanic Disorders, and major depressive neurosis. However, eating certain foods, like fish and dairy and even nuts and seeds, can have a positive effect by introducing Tryptophan into the human body, which the body in turn uses this to produce Serotonin. which of course will help slightly with Dysthymic Disorders and Cyclothymic Disorders if caught in early stages. Long walks and even exercises that work the different areas of the brain can also stimulate good mental health. I just think that there are alot more natural approaches to psychological medicine than there is medicinal. Then again I am just a second year psychology student 🙂 Perhaps my views will change a bit the longer I am in this field. In any case, I think we can all agree that exercise and proper diet are essential in combating depression.

    David J.
    Florida State University
    🙂

  • Mike says:

    Many of the tips are valid. I especially like the one about forcing yourself to smile. A study I read showed that subjects that were told to read a comic strip with a pencil in the corner of their mouth (inducing a smile) rated the comic as funnier than those without the pencil. As a pharmacy student, I would not recommend the use of St. John’s Wort without the supervision of a physician since it can interact with nearly every prescription drug, but it is an effective antidepressant for MILD depression. Again, I would not recommend it for patients who are taking other prescription medications. Beer is also not a healthy stress management tool.
    I think the first line non prescription therapy should be Exercise and Healthy Diet.

    B.S. in Psychology
    2nd year Pharm.D student

  • W. S. Bracken says:

    I appreciate the effort spent on creating this web page, and I thank you for that.
    Some of these suggestions are fine, but put on a blue shirt, write a dot on paper and stare at it, press your thumb and finger together and put O.J. in your coffee? With respect, that’s not likely at all.
    Speaking for myself, St. Johns Wort has never ever helped one atoms worth, and I used it for three months! That was more than enough testing time.
    Not mentioned is going for a walk (when realistic, depending on your physical health or the neighborhood).
    About smoking marijuana. Smoking Marijuana is good for the Blues? Can it be proven, citing a scientific study conducted by trustworthy researchers?

    Thank you everybody.
    W.S. Bracken

  • Michelle Anderson says:

    I found 5 out of the 10 thing put forward to be helpful…And they were all very original thoughts on the subject.

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