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
Depression 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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