From time to time, low mood hits all of us - some of us more often than others.
There are different levels of low mood, from having a bad day (which happens to us all) to the very extremes of contemplating suicide.
However you’re feeling right now, I want you to know that you always have options. There isn’t a situation or scenario that can’t be changed.
If you are even close to thinking about giving up, or you feel as though your low mood will never lift, I want you to consider these four important points.
Chester Bennington and Robin Williams appeared to have it all. Fame, fortune, family – everything that we perceive you could desire. But it wasn’t enough. They ended their lives by committing suicide. All the material possessions and money in the world doesn’t mean anything unless you’re filling the gap within you. And that gap is everything to do with your purpose. When you’re being true to yourself, you’ll discover what it is that drives you – that is your purpose. When you have purpose, you have everything to live for. Having purpose will lift your low mood much quicker, and feeling down won’t affect you as often. If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to find your purpose, a good start is to help others.
In some cases, when you feel as though your low mood has been around for ages, it’s easy to believe that it’s never going to go away. You feel as though your life will never get better, and you end up settling for the fact that things will never improve. But the fact is, low mood is temporary, however long it is. Just like problems – all problems are temporary. Remember that tomorrow is a new day – a new opportunity to do and be something different. You’ve already got through 100% of your problems. That means you’ve already proven your strength. Use this strength to remind yourself that how you feel right now isn’t fixed, and it can change if you want it to.
It’s time to beat away those grey clouds, and one of the quickest ways you can do it is by getting your focus right. When we’re feeling low, we focus on everything that is bad. When you consider that you’re going to get more of whatever it is you focus on, you appreciate that this is the reason you end up going around in a cycle of misfortune and bad luck. Ditch the ‘what ifs . . .’, and focus on the things you can control – the things that are going to push your life forward, and not hold you back with false beliefs. Focus on the things that count, like your goals and hobbies.
The cherry on top of all of these points is action. The one thing that took me out of feeling like shit is action. Plain and simple. If it weren’t for me taking action, I’d still be lying in bed anxious, worried and stressed about all the ‘what ifs . . .’. Taking action was the one thing that got me out of the mire. It started with me making a choice: either stay as I am or take action and do something about it. Taking action doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. It can be something small. The main thing is that you just take action, because like a snowball effect, it will lead to more action. Before you know it, your low mood (depression) no longer affects you the way it did previously. You’ll still have bad days (there is no getting over that – everybody does), but they will be fewer and far between.
Listen to my podcast on Getting Over Feeling Low.
Listen To The New Carl Vernon Podcast: Talking About All Things Anxiety, Stress, Success & Wellbeing
I’m excited to share my new podcast with you – a new way for us to connect.
I love podcasts and use them a lot myself.
It’s not always easy reading a book or watching a video, and podcasts are perfect for when you’re on the go.
You can listen in the car, at the gym, going for a walk, at work – anywhere you can put your headphones in!
In this first podcast, we’re going BIG by covering the two biggest subjects.
I’m talking about my DP Rule, and how it can help you overcome your fears.
If you’ve read Anxiety Rebalance, you’ll most likely know about the DP Rule, and in this podcast, I wanted to give you a little more insight into how it helped me deal with my fears and overcome anxiety.
You can listen to it directly from here on SoundCloud. Or if you’re a proper podcaster (if that’s the proper term?) you can listen from iTunes and subscribe to my podcast on there – the link is below at the bottom of this post.
My aim is to get at least a new podcast out every week, and I’ll be covering lots of exciting subjects – everything to do with anxiety, stress, success and wellbeing – to help you break out of your comfort zone, make positive changes, and improve your lifestyle for the better.
Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, so you don’t miss out on future podcasts – click the logo below to go to my podcast and subscribe.
If you like what you hear, don’t forget to rate and review.
Thank you for taking the time to listen, and along with my other stuff, I hope my podcast helps you on your journey!
All the very best,
Yesterday, I watched the film, The Cat in the Hat, with Mike Myers.
If you’ve not seen the Dr Seuss classic, it’s about a big talking cat who turns up at a house with the aim of bringing more happiness to two miserable kids – you know – every day normal stuff!
To gauge how fun the kids are, he pulls out a big contraption called the ‘Phunometer’.
The cat plugs the Phunometer on the girl’s head, and straightaway, the gauge swung around to the least fun setting.
This is the bit that made me chuckle – what the last setting was.
For a kid’s movie, I thought that was pretty accurate!
Looking back at my most miserable times, when anxiety was biting hard, and stress had its grip on me, ‘control freak’ summed me up well.
I struggled to get enjoyment out of anything. I could be sailing around the Caribbean and still find something to be miserable about!
What are you like when it comes to wanting control?
Anxiety and stress will want you to try and control everything – it makes the job of keeping you safe a whole lot easier. Plus, an anxious and stressed brain doesn’t like unfamiliarity or change. It likes to keep things exactly as they are, even if it means being miserable.
But the simple fact is we’re not going to be able to control everything in our lives, and by trying, we’re only punishing ourselves.
LEARN TO LET GO
Take those white knuckles off the roller coaster you call life, and learn to let go!
Start embracing and appreciating the fact that unexpected things are going to happen. Expect change.
Take the frown off your face, unclench your fists, drop your shoulders and loosen that neck!
Take a deep breath, stick a smile on your face and put your favourite comedian on.
Do it, even if you don’t feel like doing it – that is kind of the point.
The tenser you allow yourself to get, the more anxiety and stress will continue to attack you.
Learn to break the habit by learning to let go.
Accept and embrace the fact that you don’t have full control. The instant feeling of relief you get from that alone is priceless.
With time and practice, the more you learn to do it, the more natural it will be for you to deal with situations in an entirely different way.
You’ll no longer hold onto the false belief that you can control everything in your life, and you’ll feel a million times better for it.
Nobody knows what’s around the corner.
A job loss, a bereavement, an illness – lots of us are affected by these things daily, but we don’t equip ourselves to cope with them well – so we end up getting stressed and anxious to the point we struggle to cope.
It’s because we don’t like change. Change causes us big anxiety and stress.
We like things just as they are – that way we know exactly what’s going to happen. The more predictable something is, the less likely it is to cause us hassle.
The trouble with allowing the fear of change to dominate us is we end up stagnating. We end up staying in relationships we know are no good for us. We stay friends with toxic people. It’s why we stay in jobs we hate and get us nowhere.
We would rather stay in these bad situations than face the scary, unpredictable future we know nothing about.
I don’t want you to stay living a substandard life, so the thing I want to throw out there to you is this:
Is facing the unpredictable future any scarier than doing all the things you know are no good for you?
It’s worth a ponder.
Sometimes we need to stop and think about why we’re doing what we’re doing, so we don’t end up just going with the flow, and accepting a lot less than we deserve.
The fear of change shouldn’t be the thing that drives you – it should be the fear that nothing will change. Regret.
I won’t pretend to know all the answers to help you cope with the fear of change, including all the unpredictable situations that will crop up. But I can offer you one solution that will no doubt help you cope with it much better going forward. And it’s this:
Expect the unexpected, including the fact that change is going to happen.
When you expect change, including the problems and situations that come from nowhere, they can’t shock the life out of you.
Expecting the unexpected will prepare you for anything that might crop up.
I’m not saying you have to live in a constant state of alertness. Just prepare yourself better, so things don’t shock you as much, causing you the type of stress and anxiety you won’t be able to cope with.
When you expect it, you’ll cope with whatever comes up 100 times better.
Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you outgrow your job, or your friends, or the people in your life, it means you’re growing.
Things might seem tough to begin with, but you’ll deal with it – because you have to.
The future might be unpredictable, but isn’t there more fun in that, compared to plodding along? Just because it’s unpredictable, it doesn’t mean it’s negative. Stay positive.
If you believe things happen for a reason, then it’s just as easy to believe that positive things will come.
Make Expect Change your new mantra.
Have you noticed how happy people are rarely sick, and how stressed and miserable people tend to get sick all the time?
I know I can relate to this.
When I was anxiety-ridden, stressed-out and miserable, I was ill, all the time.
If it weren’t a headache, or cold, or neck ache, or tonsillitis (or the other hundred anxiety and stress related symptoms), it would always be something else attacking me.
My immune system felt non-existent, and it didn’t take much to make me bedbound.
It’s now been a while since the last time I was ill, and I can pinpoint it back to about the time I started to sort my lifestyle out.
If I’d have continued living the type of lifestyle I was, including working every hour under the sun in a job I hated, I have no doubt I would be dealing with the same issues of being constantly ill.
How you feel mentally directly affects how you feel physically, and here’s the proof.
Norman Cousins was an American Journalist who wrote a book called Anatomy of an Illness.
After being diagnosed with a debilitating illness, doctors told him they couldn’t help him, and that he would live in pain for the rest of his life.
Norman checked into a hotel and rented every funny movie he could find, watching them over and over again, laughing hysterically at each one.
After six months of his self-diagnosed laughter therapy, doctors were amazed to see that his disease had completely gone.
This is an incredible example of how we feel mentally directly affects how we feel physically. But it’s also a significant example of why we shouldn’t forget to laugh.
DON”T FORGET TO GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF ENDORPHINS
Endorphins are the chemicals released into your body when you laugh.
Research has shown they have a similar composition to morphine and heroin, and they help to build your immune system – you just heard how good they were for Norman.
Life, with all its stresses, puts us in serious mode, and unless you’re a natural at tapping into happiness (and most of us aren’t), you won’t be getting the regular endorphin hit that is so good for you.
Even if it’s just five minutes a day, put on a comedy or watch your favourite comedian.
Get the daily dose of endorphins your body craves and deserves.
The Office (UK) is my usual stop-off if I want a good chuckle.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young people being bullied.
But it’s not just young people being affected by bullying. Bullying takes shape in all areas of life, and it’s just as likely to affect adults at work or home, as it is at school, university or college.
When we think of bullying, we also tend to think of being physically abused. But most of today’s bullies exist in the mind. These types of bullies and trolls are the emotional manipulators and mental abusers who use intimidation through their words and mind games.
It doesn’t matter who you are - we’ve all fallen victim to a bully. I have no shame in including myself in this. I’ve experienced bullying in many different forms throughout my life. There are lots of unhappy and toxic people out there, so bullying will always be part of life.
With the power of social media, bullying is now just a click away, and unless you go and live a solitary life somewhere in the hills, there’s no getting away from it. That’s why rather than try to pretend bullies don’t exist we need the mental armour to deal with them.
Here are five ways to do it.
1. Don’t play a bullies game
To most bullies and toxic people, bullying is a game to them. The specific aim of a bully is to get a reaction from you, usually by frightening and intimidating you. The simplest way to stop this from happening is to not play their game. Starve them of the one thing fuelling their behaviour: your attention. When there is no fuel to stoke the fire, it will burn out. Bullies operate on a low conscious level; so don’t try to understand why they do what they do. Just move on because you are the smarter and more conscious human being.
2. Know your inner strength
When we get bullied, we go into child mode, and that puts us in a vulnerable state of mind. It makes us feel anxious and stressed, and like we have no power. This is bullsh*t, and part of the lies the bullies will have us believe. You have more inner strength than you know. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and learn karate (unless you want to). Inner strength is exactly that – the mental capacity to make a decision and take responsibility for it. If you decide something isn’t going to happen anymore, it’s up to you to follow up on that decision and take action. A strong mental decision starts by knowing you can handle anything that comes your way.
3. Set your personal boundaries
If you’re a good person, people will come along and try to take advantage of that. That’s just life. There are lots of toxic people out there who are waiting to pounce on what they believe to be suckers. Setting personal boundaries could be something as simple as saying ‘no’. I don’t buy that, so ‘no’. Everybody has this power, including you. It might take a little time and practice, but keep at it, and you’ll find saying ‘no’ becomes much easier.
4. Don’t try to control somebody else and their actions
You’ll never be able to completely control somebody else and their actions, so don’t try. It’s only going to cause you stress and anxiety. The only thing you can control is you and your actions, so focus on that. If somebody chooses to bully you, focus on what you can do about it, rather than trying to control and predict the bully. There is much more power in that.
5. Always know you have a choice
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this, it’s this: a bully doesn’t exist unless you allow it to exist. In other words, it’s your fear that is the real bully, and that means you have a choice. It might not feel like it, but it’s true, and sometimes it takes a little time for you to appreciate this fact. Nobody said dealing with a bully would be easy, but you deserve more. Make the right choice, because you do have a choice.
We get stressed and anxious when we feel out of control.
The more we try to control the things we can’t, the more anxiety and stress it causes us.
The fact is:
- People will do things you don’t expect.
- It will start raining when the weather forecast said sunshine all day. (Especially if you live in the UK!)
- That thing you were sure would happen, won’t always come off.
However, there are things we can control, and these are the things we should focus our time and effort on.
By focusing your time and effort on the things you can influence and shape, you’ll be much more productive, and more importantly, happier and less stressed.
Here are three things you can start controlling better today to reduce your anxiety and stress.
1. Control your thoughts
We have around 60,000 thoughts a day, so trying to control them all is an impossible task. What we can do, though, is decide which ones to act on and which ones to ditch. Before you act on a thought, ask yourself what it’s doing for you. Is it keeping you locked in an anxious and stressed state of mind? Is it pushing you forward and helping you achieve your goals? Act on the thoughts that are doing you a favour, and ditch the ones that are holding you back.
2. Control when to let go
Life is a balancing act of knowing when to hold on and let go. Anxiety and stress are usually caused when we hold onto something no good for us. To lessen this anxiety and stress we need to learn to let go. What are you holding on to that is no good for you? What is causing you anxiety and stress? It’s time to let go. Release your grip and take those white knuckles off the handlebars. Enjoy the ride of uncertainty, and embrace the change.
3. Control your expectations
If you’re dealing with high anxiety, you’ll naturally want to control things more. It’s your minds way of trying to deal with the extra stress - the last thing it wants is to deal with something unexpected – because that will cause more stress and anxiety. But the fact remains that things aren’t always going to go the way you expect them to, and if you want things to be perfect all the time, you’re heading for a fall. Expect your journey to have some potholes and bumps along the way – a road worth going down will always pose more challenges. When you expect and plan for things to go wrong, problems won’t jump out and scare the life out of you.
If you’re familiar with my Rebalance Scale from Anxiety Rebalance, you’ll know that low energy sits below BALANCE.
Low energy represents depression (or low mood), just like panic (on the other end of the scale) represents high anxiety.
When we get low and depressed, we get ourselves into a cycle of behaviour. It starts by not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, and the rest of the day follows in the same way.
Very quickly, we find ourselves having no energy or motivation for anything. We stop going out and seeing people, we don’t eat enough or eat too much, our sleep pattern is all over the place - the days drag on, and the cycle continues.
The more the cycle continues, the less energy we have. And that’s an issue, because what can you do without energy? That’s right – NOTHING! You’re definitely not putting yourself into a state that will help you deal with anxiety and stress.
You need to keep your energy levels up, and here are the three most important areas you need to concentrate on to do it.
Without food, there is no energy. Even if you don’t feel like it, you have to eat. If just the thought of food turns your stomach, get your energy levels up by drinking a protein shake. They can be the quick solution you’re looking for - before you’re ready to start eating well again. Foods heavy in carbohydrates (like pasta and white bread) weigh on you and burn energy quickly, and that can make you feel sluggish. Stick to foods that burn energy slower, like nuts, oats, sweet potato and brown rice. It’s also important you stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Always have a glass or bottle handy.
If you’re not sleeping enough or sleeping too much, your energy levels are seriously being affected. I wouldn’t have been able to change my life if I hadn’t got my sleeping patterns right. Try short-term fixes, like drinking a warm glass of milk before you go to bed. Milk contains magnesium, and magnesium has a natural calming effect on you. Do this while looking at the longer-term fixes, like sticking to and getting into a better pattern and routine. Sorting your sleep out won’t happen overnight, but if you start doing the right things today, you can guarantee things will improve with time.
You’ve heard about the benefits of exercise before – but for a good reason. Exercise is your direct route to less stress and anxiety. When we use our bodies less and less, we go into slow mode. Our brain tells our body that it doesn’t need to work as hard, so you don’t. This is how you can quickly become lazy, and get stuck in an unhealthy routine. Even if your job means sitting at a computer all day, you have to stay active. Put exercise in your routine as much as you can, and the more you do it, the more addicted you’ll get. (Exercise is proven to become addictive, so very soon, you’ll start missing it!)
We have about 60,000 thoughts a day.
If you put high anxiety into the mix, you could probably add another 10,000 to that tally.
It’s impossible to try and control all these thoughts, but it is possible to manage them better.
Here are five powerful ways to help you deal with negative and OCD-related thoughts.
1. Recognise the useless thoughts
If you look at most of the thoughts you have on a daily basis, a high percentage of them will be useless and negative. What thoughts are keeping you trapped? Which thoughts are limiting you and stopping you from living your life? These are the ones you need to let go of, and not dwell on or hang on to. The more power you give these thoughts, the more your life will be dominated by negativity.
2. Don’t fight your thoughts
It’s a little like trying to fight with anxiety – pointless. You can’t win a fight against something that is well and truly implanted in you. Rather than fight the thoughts that are no go for you, accept them, no matter how bizarre they might be. Don’t sit there saying I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine if you’re not. Accept that you’re not having a good day. The acceptance will give you immediate comfort.
3. Rationalise and challenge your thoughts
If you don’t do an OCD related task or routine, will there be a consequence? If you’re convinced there will be, what is your reasoning based on? Can you predict the future? It’s time to start dealing in facts, and facts will tell you that nobody suffered from a consequence they made up in their head.
4. Stop catastrophizing
When you’re anxious, you always think the worse. You enter the world of what if…? and in this world nothing is good. Everything goes wrong, and there is always a catastrophe waiting to happen. Grab hold of those what ifs…. and don’t allow them to spiral onto more negativity.
5. Divert your negative thoughts
The more you internalise your thoughts and hold them within, the more power they’ll have on you. Release your thoughts by going outside of yourself. The most effective way of doing this is by helping others. Ask somebody how their day was and listen to them. By doing this, your negative thoughts are being healthily diverted away from your mind, being replaced by positive thoughts – the sort of thoughts that will enhance your day, not destroy it.
You might say these things are easier said than done. But are they? Who has the power over your thoughts if it’s not you?
If things aren’t changing for you, it’s because they don’t have to.
Change only comes about when something has to happen.
If you smoke, and the doctor tells you if you keep smoking you only have a few months to live, you’ll crush those remaining cigarettes in your hand and throw them in the trash (if your health means something to you).
We’re driven by our greatest fears, or our ‘have tos’, as I call them. They are dictating what, where, when, and how you’re doing things.
If you’re more scared of your boss than you are of not paying the bills, you won’t go to work. But if not going to work means you’ll become homeless and won’t be able to feed your family, you’ll go to work.
There is a power behind your have tos, and you can use it to make significant changes in your life, like overcoming anxiety.
I activate my have tos by following these three steps:
1. Decide why
If you don’t have a good enough reason ‘why?’ you simply won’t do it. That’s why the first step is to understand why you’re doing it. What is the reason for the change? Your family, your health, your happiness?
2. Clear the path
If one of your goals is to break the pattern of anxiety and depression, but somebody is tucking you into bed when you don’t want to get out of it, nothing will change. You don’t have to get out of bed, so you won’t. Willpower is overrated so don’t depend on it. Depend on your ‘have to’ mentality instead.
3. Limit your options
Getting into a ‘have to’ mentality requires focus, and having too many options on the table will seriously affect your focus. It will take you to the ‘maybe middle ground’, and that’s not where you want to be. Get laser-like focused on what it is you want, and stick to that. Are things guaranteed to go right if you do that? Of course not. But that doesn’t matter, as long as you’re going in the direction you want.
By taking these three steps, you’ll put yourself in the very best place to get things done and take action. That’s when you know things are really changing.
Make ‘have to’ your mantra.
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