Someone recently asked me about how they could deal with low mood and the feelings of being depressed when suffering from anxiety. To answer this question to the best of my ability, I shared what has helped me from my own experience with low mood.
My experience with low mood
I did find having a low mood to be quite distressing and frustrating when I was suffering so severely. If I’m going to be brutally honest, I did have thoughts of ending my life. I knew deep down that I never would kill myself because I wasn’t actually depressed. I knew that I wanted to live life and not escape from life. Put another way, I was too scared to end my life and I was just extremely fed up with being in a highly anxious state 24/7. The thought of killing myself terrified me so I knew I couldn’t ever bring myself to do it.
What helped me heal my low mood during anxiety
What really helped me to get through my low mood periods during anxiety was to stop trying to escape from feeling low. The more I tried to abandon my low mood, the more I felt depressed. You need to release your low mood instead of suppressing or trying to get over it. Paradoxically, these attitudes just keep the low feelings in place. You can never escape from what’s self-created, you can only let go of and replace.
So, after working out that not giving the low mood space to be was actually causing inner resistance, I went the opposite way. I went against my natural urge of fighting against it, of turning it onto a problem. I treated my low mood like a friend. I allowed it to be in my experience without perceiving it to be a problem or a threat.
I no longer cared about experiencing it as I totally resigned myself to this feeling. I believe this mindset will serve you rather than seeing low mood as something to escape from. The escape mentality is so counter-productive when it comes to healing anxiety.
Don’t dwell on the low mood
Dwelling on the low mood does nothing but keep us stuck in this cycle. Whenever we try and work out why we are feeling low, what may have caused it or just giving more attention and importance to our feelings, we’ll just keep creating this low mood state. Healing this depressed energy doesn’t happen by dwelling on it. In fact, whatever energetic state we re in, will become magnified by focusing on it.
Low mood in anxiety is usually brought on because a person is truly fed up and frustrated with feeling anxious all of the time. Especially if they’ve been suffering for such a long time. So, naturally, reacting with frustration is going to create negative emotional feedback. I’m not saying we shouldn’t feel frustrated because of long term anxiety suffering. We are human, so of course, it’s only normal and natural to feel fed up.
Don’t beat yourself for feeling frustrated. Just as you would allow the thoughts and sensations of anxiety to be, allow thoughts and feelings of frustration to be as well because whatever you fully accept will allow transmute that negative state.
Find something that lights you up creatively and emotionally
Whenever I’m in engaged in something that allows me to express my enjoyment and creativity, I feel so much better. It works now and it worked then when I was going through high anxiety and low mood. Of course, it does take time for your “normal” feelings and thoughts to shine through because being deeply embedded in anxiety keeps us in a sensitised state.
When going through periods of low mood, a lot of people turn to things like alcohol, junk food, drugs or whatever it is that creates short term pleasure but long term consequences. This is obviously going to keep people in a low state.
A healthier alternative then, is to focus on things that create long term satisfaction. Creative hobbies, projects, things of that nature. I know it’s hard to enjoy things when you are in the throws of anxiety but having patience and just doing things will create this feeling state in you at some point. More accurately, you will feel connected to the things you used to love doing as time goes on.
Maybe it’s painting, maybe it’s gardening, maybe it’s designing your home, maybe it’s doing up old cars, maybe it’s fishing. Just make sure that what you do doesn’t lead to unhealthy habits and addiction.
Whatever it is that allows you to express your enjoyment and creativity, start to include your hobby/ies into your day whenever you can. Having something to focus on is a great alternative to dwelling on low feeling states and unhealthy habits we use as crutches.
So. whenever you feel low, understand why you are feeling this way (fed up with being anxious), reassure yourself (“it’s not going to hurt me, it will pass in time”) accept it (allow it to be there without trying to force it away) and lose yourself in something that expresses your enjoyment and creativity.
Important note: Don’t put pressure on yourself to find something big and creative. Just do what you enjoy, whatever that may be. If that’s watching films or spending your time listening to music, that’s perfectly fine. Just do these things when you have free time. The more you take your focus off anxiety by occupying your mind, the less likely you’ll check to see how you’re feeling.
Let creativity come into your life naturally, without force. Don’t feel that you have to force yourself to do some big creative project or activity. On the other hand, ff you are in the mood to begin that creative project that you’ve been meaning to do for a while, that’s awesome. Just make sure you have fun. Having something like a project that fuels your creativity will help you to really express yourself and channel your over-active imagination.
Just one more thing…
Focusing on the things we are truly thankful for in our lives is another way in which we can dissolve low moods. Obviously, when we are feeling low from feeling anxious, we are focusing on what’s going wrong in our lives. Focusing on what’s wrong in our life will only bring about the same feelings. Focus is power. If we focus on what we don’t want, we will energise this focus. If we focus on what we already have to be thankful for, we will energise this focus.
Instead, why not pay attention and remind yourself of all the things that you appreciate in your life. Write them down as reminders. Dwell on them. Surround yourself with them. Remind yourself of the people you have in your life daily. Remind yourself of all the things you enjoy doing. Remind yourself of what you like about yourself. Make this your new focus instead of what you haven’t got. Again, this takes time before you can shift out of a low mood and into a good one. But keep practicing.
I just repeated this whole process over and over again until I stopped feeling so low. I hope this post can be of use to you.
If there is anything that you think I’ve missed in this post, please feel free to let me know so I can include it in.