Health & Wellness

Getting Out of a Mood Slump

moodWhen we reach a mood slump physical activity is the exact opposite to what you feel like doing, but getting out of a mood slump isn’t so hard. It’s true that in the first instance it’s like asking a person who is dog tired and about to get into bed that you’d like another day’s work out of them.

Low moods drain our physical and psychological resources to the point where it becomes increasingly harder to get motivated. Your brain chemistry isn’t helping matters and your sense of confidence and feelings of isolation are probably worsening by the day. The fastest way I know of to turn things around is via light exercise. Exercise rapidly improves mood through the release of endorphins.

Some people have compared light exercise with taking antidepressants and the results are interesting. For a start, mild levels of depression often don’t respond to antidepressant medication. On average, it takes four to six weeks for antidepressants to reach their therapeutic effect, whereas the effects of exercise begin almost immediately. Study after study shows that a regular program of mild-to-moderate exercise helps mood. Furthermore, there are no chemical side effects, and unless you choose to join a formal class or gym, it’s completely free and natural.

Exercise tends to fail because people throw themselves at it too hard.

I wonder how many items of exercise equipment are out there, slowing gathering dust through lack of use? I have a road bike that’s doing just that. Perhaps some well-intentioned burst of enthusiasm in the New Year rapidly becomes off-putting and aversive? Maybe that’s how you remember and think about exercise: a failed experiment. Maybe you don’t see yourself as that type of person and that’s why nobody will find any sports gear in your place. Well, I’d say it’s time to recast your thinking and come to terms with the idea of movement as a helpful, therapeutic activity and something that’s done on your terms rather than what others say is right or wrong, good or bad.

My road bike is gathering dust because it doesn’t really work for me. I can use it in good weather but even then I find the traffic oppressive and I wonder if the fumes I’m inhaling offset the benefits of exercise. I find walking is simpler, more enjoyable and something I can do everyday. Having a dog helps. My greyhound, Fynn, takes me out a couple of times a day, rain or shine. I guess the simple message is to find something that works for you and stick with it. The fact that you’re doing light exercise isn’t cheating and gardening, dancing, or walking are all forms of movement.

If you try, you’ll experience a gradual shift in mood. Take it easy, do it daily, and if you make it sociable, so much the better.

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