We all have ups and downs. Life isn’t a linear state and if your mood changes from one moment to another, it means that you are alive and open to your feelings. However, sometimes it feels that the low mood is taking over. From the moment you wake up, there’s that darkness and inexplicable sadness in your heart. You feel heavy and your mind seems filled with negative thoughts. What’s going on? What’s wrong with me?
Before assuming that there’s something wrong, take a deep breath and try to accept what you are feeling in that moment. You don’t need to try to explain or find a reason. Not for now anyway. Try to stay with whatever it is.
The Loop of Sadness
Many times people tell me they get into a ‘loop of sadness’, and it goes like this: ‘As soon as I notice that I’m in a low mood, I panic, I hate it, I want to get away from it, and I just can’t. And I end up even more sad and frustrated, really angry at myself for having those feelings’. And, the more you ‘feel sad for being sad’, the worse it gets. And the loop continues. For hours and, sometimes, days.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Have you caught yourself in those cycles of negative thoughts and feelings?
Have you ever noticed that the more you fight against it, the worse it gets?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, now it’s a good time to pause and start accepting all sorts of emotions you are going through. I know sometimes it’s easier said than done. But the ‘culture of happiness’ that we live in sometimes isn’t actually helping us. It’s impossible to be happy all the time, however amazing your life is. And the high expectations that you need to be feeling great the whole time is just not realistic.
But there’s no apparent reason for my sadness and low mood
It’s worth taking some time to pause and reflect on what is really going on for you. Try to notice the following:
- Are there issues in your life that you are trying not to think about? Trying to push away, hoping that they’ll disappear? Sometimes these ways of coping and surviving serve as a temporary escape from our problems. However, your worries might manifest in different ways and shapes. Notice if the low mood could be a sign of deeper worries and concerns, which you are not addressing directly. Issues that are pushed away could manifest in forms of low mood, anxiety, anger and even random outbursts and explosions.
- Is there something challenging that is about to happen in the near further? A difficult meeting, family visit, a task at work, a difficult conversation? Sometimes your mind could be ahead of you: the mind works fast and sometimes before things actually happen. And the mind is also good at protecting you. So you might be - unconsciously - suffering in anticipation, without realising and noticing it. The low mood comes as a way of numbing all the other concerns and worries that might rise from those future events.
- Are you picking up other people’s emotions? This is one isn’t that easy to spot. But you might be extra sensitive to feelings around you. If you are surrounded by people who aren’t well, or who can’t handle their own emotions, you might be ‘feeling their feelings’ for them. This can be a strange and new concept for many people. But it does happen. Start noticing the people around you. Are they able to express their own emotions? If not, they might be holding it all in, and you might be expressing it for them, in a shape of low mood and sadness.
- If you are a woman, check your menstrual cycle. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how the hormonal changes really affect your emotional state. At some points of the cycle, women can feel deeply sad, emotional, irritated and sensitive. It’s very physical and brings very real and intense feelings. It’s very important to notice them. They are not psychological or made up. They need to be acknowledged and respected.
Watch out for some signs that there is something more chronic happening
Of course, there are situations and a deeper sort of sadness that will need to be looked at in more depth and explored further. There are some symptoms that should be noticed:
- If your low mood has been a constant in your life, for a period of more than 2 weeks
- If you feel constantly exhausted and without any motivation
- If you don’t want to get up or leave the house for days, weeks
- If you don’t find joy in anything
These are some symptoms that something isn’t quite right, and the low mood might be an indication of something deeper and more chronic, and not simply a normal change of emotional states.
In this case, please reach out for help: talk to your GP, find a Counsellor, share your experience with someone close to you, family or friends. There’s no need for you to wait until things get worse and your feelings get darker, no need to wait to see if they’ll just pass. It’s ok not to feel ok. And it’s important to look for help.