As the days get longer and we get the occasional sunny day to dispel the winter gloom, we expect our spirits to lift as there are more opportunities for being active and enjoying the good weather. However, for some of us this doesn't happen. It's as if our tank has run dry, and there isn't enough energy left to start doing those things that would make us happy. For those of us who are trapped by low mood, the onset of summer can be a difficult time, as listening to everyone outside enjoying themselves just makes the situation worse.
There is an unfortunate twist of our biology that can send us into this downward spiral, because what we tend to think about and remember is influenced by our mood. When we're happy our brains recall positive memories more easily, whereas if our mood is low we automatically think more negatively. This effect has a scientific name: context-dependent recall.
When we think negative thoughts, that tends to make us feel worse, and we put off doing things that we might enjoy. Thus the conditions are set for a vicious circle - negative thoughts causing low mood, and low mood prompting even more negative thoughts. Breaking out of the downward spiral of low mood can be done by thinking positively, doing things that give us pleasure or that give us a sense of achievement. The problem can be that doing these things requires energy to get started, and at our lowest point with our tank empty, this can be very difficult.
This is where working with a counsellor can help us to identify the activities that make us feel good, and help us to make a commitment to trying them. Often it doesn't need to be a big change, just making a few small steps can be enough to get the energy going. The counsellor will also point out how many negative thoughts may be holding us back, and help to replace these with more accurate appraisals. By this I don't mean being falsely positive, just recognising the good things when they happen, however small, and exploring some options that in a low mood we haven't considered...
If this article has resonated with you and you would like to work with a counsellor on this, or any other issue, then please get in contact. Appointments can be booked by calling 07927 053650.