When you’re feeling down, it’s sometimes difficult to pull yourself out of a hole. But new research suggests that the climb out may not be as tough as it may seem.
ACKNOWLEDGE: Words are powerful ways to change your emotions. Tagging what you are feeling with a descriptive word is more than just an explanation. Called “affect labeling”, in your brain, it calms down emotional overreactions by turning down the volume of the emotion processor. Also, a more extended description called expressive writing can quell the blues too, making you feel better than you had before your outpouring.
AFFIRM: If you’re feeling anxious, tell yourself that you’re not being crazy, and if you’re feeling depressed, tell yourself that this will pass with time. Both of these interventions are thought to be helpful. Looking at the brighter side of things is even helpful among cancer survivors who have previously gone through the stress of dealing with a dangerous illness. Affirming that things will be okay changes your brain. It activates the reward system, and the “self” circuits are also impacted, helping you to feel recognized.
RECALL: Try to remember things that have cheered you up in the past, or things that made you feel good.. Recalling happy memories repairs the brain circuits disturbed during depressive episodes, and makes people feel better. So try going down memory lane and pick out the good times. It’ll likely help you change your mood (and your brain).
– Srini Pillay
Read more: Eight Ways to Counteract a Dreary Day
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