What to do when you're feeling down

April 29, 2021
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Markus Ahlberg

That uncomfortable, lonely, and difficult feeling when nothing's necessarily wrong, but you just don't feel any joy, excitement or comfort either. You're simply feeling down. It's a common feeling that visits all of us from time to time, but it can be a particularly difficult one to manage. Feeling down usually leaves us uninterested and feeling unable to do anything to get out of it. It's one of the more commonly named feelings in Feelmo, and it's also one that I struggle with regularly. Here's what I've found helps me. I hope this can help you when the blues come calling.

If you find yourself feeling down, name it. Naming what you are feeling acknowledges and validates the feeling as real and only then can you begin to properly manage it. Ignoring the feeling, or wishing it away, only leads to more suffering. Comparing yourself with others or questioning why you can't be happy, "like them" doesn't help. Instead, be patient and treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer a struggling friend.

Now that you've identified what you are feeling, probe it: why could you be feeling this way? When did you begin feeling this way? Who were you with? Did something happen? Did something not happen? Feelings exist to guide us but unfortunately, their messages are rarely very clear so some detective work can be necessary. Understanding the cause of your feelings can help you avoid similar triggering situations in the future, provide valuable insights on what's important to you and most importantly, help you deal with your current feelings.

Talking about your feelings and what's going on for you with a trusted friend, family member or professional therapist helps me the most. You don't have to solve anything together¹ nor do they have to do anything, simply being able to share that you're feeling down can be a relief. I know that this is easier said than done, trust me, I still try avoiding it as much as I can. But if you can push through and take that leap of faith, you'll find that sharing your struggles with someone you trust invites them to support you and will lead you to feel just a little bit less alone with the feeling².

What makes feeling down particularly difficult to manage is that it's a feeling that typically leaves one feeling apathetic and uninterested in, basically, everything. You feel unhappy, but don't have the energy or inclination to do anything about it. You don't feel like seeing a friend, you don't have the energy to go for a run, or you believe that you don't "deserve" to do anything fun. Do it! When you're in a rut, pull yourself out by engaging in activities that give you joy and energy, no matter how difficult it feels in the moment. Put yourself out there, break the cycle of negativity and see if the change helps.

There's no avoiding feeling down sometimes, but there are things you can do to lower the chances (and remember, prevention is easier than curing!). Make sure that you make time in your week for pleasant, energy-boosting activities. It's all too easy to get bogged down with work, chores and activities that by the end of the day, you probably don't have the energy to plan, let alone do, anything fun. By regularly scheduling dates with friends, participating in your favorite exercise class, trying new hobbies, or signing up to learn new things, you create more balance in your life. The next time the blues come creeping you'll hopefully feel more energized and prepared to deal with them.

What do you do when you feel down? We love hearing from you: reach out and share your thoughts and feelings with us on Instagram: @feelmoapp.

If you often feel down, or if you struggle to manage those feelings by yourself, considering talking to a professional counselor or therapist near you or see if you can join any self-help groups in your neighborhood.

Notes

¹) Some of your friends may dive straight into trouble-shooting, if they do, and it's not what you want, recognize that they're simply responding how they believe you want to be supported. Don't be afraid to let them know if you'd prefer to be supported in some other way. If they respond by invalidating your feelings and experiences, talk to someone else.

²) If you need more reasons to talk about your feelings, see our previous post: 10 Reasons why talking about your feelings is important.

Thanks to Max Bender for the background image.

Markus Ahlberg
Hi! I'm the founder of Feelmo. I'll be writing occasionally about my struggles in understanding and managing my feelings as well as about the emotional roller coaster ride that being an early-stage founder is.

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