What do we do when we are feeling blue? D.Rene commented on my previous post that her SO observes that (in her worst moment) she started an argument when she is blue. BlueCottonMemory likes to focus on making things better. For me, in my worst moment, I ruminate on how unlucky I am and get myself into feeling more blue and then I will start picking on all of the wrong things that my DH do. In my best moment, I act appropriately as the situation call.
Why are we feeling blue (or green or red)?
Usually, I am feeling blue because an event occurs, such as the garbage disposal leaked. From there, my brain starts a negative chatter mills. If I don’t catch it my negative thoughts proliferate, and suddenly, I am feeling down. When I am feeling down, I sometimes act non constructively. This of course is just one example on how I get to where I get. Sometimes, I just wake up at the wrong side of bed and am blue even before I open my eyes. 🙂
What can we do to get out of this blue?
Well, looking from this chain of event, I know I can catch it in 4 different places: the event, the thoughts, the feelings and the action.
Here are the ideas:
1. Do something with the event
Depending on the situations, sometimes we can and need to just avoid the event. For example, I don’t like to be surrounded by energy vampire acquaintances because I feel really down after meeting them, so I just avoid their gathering place.
Sometimes, an event just occur and we have no way to avoid it – like garbage disposal leaking. Here, we can only manage our thoughts and feelings and actions.
In some other situations, we need to go through an unpleasant event to promote self-growth. In the case of my anxiety of travelling for example, the more I do it, the more I feel comfortable with it.
2. Manage the thoughts
In some situations, catching negative thoughts and stopping them from proliferating like rabbits is the best solution. You know, there are times when one goes from “this particular editor dislikes my writing” to “I don’t write well” to “nobody likes me”.
In other situations, we need to continue the negative thoughts so that we know what they are and decide what to do with them. Following negative thoughts can give us useful information about our deepest beliefs. For example, if we keep noticing that we end with “nobody likes me” when a stressful event occurs, then we may want to see where that belief comes from and to work with that belief.
There are many other tricks with our thoughts. Trying to find the positive in the situation (e.g. my disposal break; well, this is a chance to get a new and better disposal), trying to focus on how to make things better like BlueCottonMemory said, trying to minimize the situation (e.g. my disposal break; well, it is just a small problem, the house is still standing, hot water heater is still on), and trying to distract oneself (e.g. go play with my cat) are just some of the examples.
3. Manage the feelings
Again, depending on the situation and who we are, we can do all sort of trick. Yesterday, I felt better when I did a downward social comparison. Some other day, I will be looking for inspirational stories. When I have more time and feel safe, I will just sit with the feelings. And in other occasions, I repress my feeling. The last one is extremely useful when the situation is urgent. One caveat though, I don’t think repression is healthy in the long run. We have to find a space to process it later on.
4. Catch the actions and work backward from there
When I find myself starting to browse the internet or watch a lot of TV like there is no tomorrow, I know that I am actually not feeling too good. For some other people, when they start to get upset at their SO, they know that it’s a signal to evaluate their day. It is possible that their SO’s behaviors are the problem, but it’s also possible that something earlier happened that put them in a blue mood.
This is by no means a complete list on what we can do when we don’t feel so good. There are many ways to cope. The challenge is to consciously use the coping mechanism that is appropriate for the situation and according to the way we are and what our value is.
What do you think? What do you usually do to get cope? Is there situation where this activity is useful and is there situation where it is not useful?