How to Master Your Moods

Depression and bad moods are notorious thieves of time. In a depression or bad mood, many people stop doing anything productive and often do things that are destructive. Even the most upbeat individuals must occasionally confront a wily time thief called depression. If you can learn how to fight off moods and keep them from making off with your day, you will have acquired an invaluable ability. Develop your willpower through exercise. The ability to keep going when it's hard to keep going is the mark of a true professional. Use affirmation therapy. If you are feeling depressed or suffering from a case of the blahs, you may be able to get yourself up through affirmation therapy. Try to do it like,"pop your fist into your hand and shout aloud three times, 'Boy, am I enthusiastic!" It seemed like a silly exercise, but it really works. You can play benign trick on the unconscious mind this way. The unconscious mind responds to message that it believes to be true by sending affirmative messages to the entire nervous system. Use humor. The ability to see something funny in your misfortunes is an important coping skill. Begin with smiling. That's right. Physically put a smile on your face. You will discover that it's impossible to feel depressed when you are engaged in smiling. If you don't believe it, right now, put a big silly smile on your face, and then try to feel depressed. The next step is stimulating laughter-at least chuckle. If you can make something to make you laugh, you have taken a giant step toward defeating negative, defeatist attitudes. Laughter increases blood circulation, feeds oxygen to the brain, pumps out hormones that aid alertness, and release pain-killing endorphins. Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend. Don't be divulge your innermost thoughts to just anyone, or to just any acquaintance. But if you know someone who isn't a gossip and who has good listening skills, just talking through your problem can be excellent therapy. Yield to temptation. Drop out of circulation for few hours or a few or few days. If you've successfully completed a project, take time to shift gears. If you've gone through a traumatic experience, take time to restore your equilibrium. One major TV personality occasionally gets so depressed that she has to go to bed. "I have a good cry,"she says. "I cry till I can't cry anymore. I've found that it helps not to try to get out of it prematurely. So, I just wallow in self pity. Eventually, I get sick and tired of it, and then I can be productive again."For her, a larger dose of the disease is its cure. Do low-priority items on your list. Do something that doesn't require a great deal of thought or willpower yet still needs to be done. If you've just had a political setback at the office, or if a hoped-for project wasn't funded, or if you missed a sale, or if you had a fight with a friend or family member, don't just sit around and mope. There are plenty of low-priority chores that you could tackle while you're in this kind of mood. If you've been putting off waxing the car, or straightening up your closet, or filing your photographs, or getting your financial records ready for income tax time, do that. The benefits are twofold. One, you'll be doing some things that really ought to get done eventually. Two, because you're active. you just may work your way out of the down mood. This tactic is particularly useful for people who do creative kinds of jobs. The mind may be tired but the body isn't. So bring body and mind into balance by doing some projects that require physically activity. You'll find that you will be able to phase back into a higher level priority sooner than you think. Do something that you're good at. If you're depressed because you've just had a failure, don't try something else that has high risk. Golf probably isn't a good idea, unless you're certain that you won't beat up on yourself afterward. Do something easy. Do mental calisthenics. No single tactic always works in a down mood. If you have to write a proposal, but it isn't working, just write anything. Doodle with words. The first few photographs or pages may eventually be thrown away. Simply get started without thinking very much about what you're doing limbers up the mental muscles. You're like a football player getting ready to hit your opponent through pregame calisthenics and contact drills. Force yourself to do something entirely different from your usual routine. Jog, play tennis, or go to the mall. If these are customary activities, try something different. Dress the part. Wear an outfit with power colors or something bright and cheerful. Experiment with your diet. Depression and efficiency-sapping moods can be the result of your bodily metabolism or improper diet. Hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, anemia, or allergies can cause low energy. Get some sunlight. This old recommendation for sickly individuals has a sound scientific basis. Numerous studies have shown that people who are deprived of sunlight often experience mild to severe depression. Pick a career that matches your temperament. The most successful entrepreneurs make comments like, "I'm just naturally upbeat.""I am not easily discouraged."I seem to have a lot of energy and can keep going when others stop." "I don't worry about setbacks very much."If it doesn't sounds like you, perhaps entrepreneurial ventures aren't for you. A person who's not agreeable shouldn't go into public relations and a person who isn't just a bit skeptical shouldn't go into purchasing. You probably shouldn't go into commission sales if defeat knocks you down and keeps you down for long periods. If you're a second guesser and are constantly agonizing over decisions that you've made, you probably shouldn't go into management. Develop a process for dealing with specific problems that trouble you. Write down the troublesome thought at the moment it occurs. Don't brood. Brooding is the mind's way of telling you not to forget about the worrisome subject. If you write it down, you've eliminated the main purpose that brooding. Schedule a specific time for thinking about the problem. If you find yourself brooding about the issue prior to that specific time, do something physically distracting, like snapping a rubber band on your wrist or dashing cold water on your face while saying, "Stop! I'll think about that at ten this evening."

Mark Hugh Neri

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