So with many people returning to school, with pressures constantly building up; having a day where you just cant do everything you need to cant really throw you out of balance for a while. So, through the help of a large variety of sources, I have comprised a five set checklist to consider the easiest things that can be altered/ fixed when you are feeling really low and sluggish in order to get yourself back to normal. Now this is not all inclusive and if you go through this checklist and haven’t found a possible cause for your low mood, then there are deeper and less instant fix problems that may be the cause.
Note: I am not a counsellor, I have extensively studied psychology and human behaviour however these are the steps that I follow when I feel low or unmotivated and I generally find the cause relatively quickly.
Point 1: Eat
Eating is the fuel for your body, it gives you the physical energy you need to accomplish tasks and therefore is extremely important. Firstly consider what you have eaten over the last 24 hours, and then the last 12 hours, the last 6 hours. I consider each of these separately for two reasons:
- Has the food you have eaten run out and are you running on fumes?
Imagine that you are a car, if you have done 100 miles on only a quarter tank of fuel you are going to start running on fumes before you reach your destination. That doesn’t mean you have to eat the biggest meal ever at the start of the 24 hours and not need any top ups along the way. We all know that a long journey is going to need pit stops, even if it is just to stop, look away from the road and stretch your legs.
- Have you eaten something that is heavily greasy/ sickening?
This is something that is unique to each person, I know people who can live off kebabs and takeaways; however I know that after these meals (especially the next day) I feel heavy and sluggish if my meals are too greasy.
This means that it isn’t just whether you have eaten enough, it is whether you have eaten what your body needs. So I’m not here to preach about calorie restriction or dieting; I am here to tell you that you need to put stuff in your body if you expect your body to work. You need to look at how often you are eating and whether you are feeling low straight after the meal, or whether it is after a certain amount of time.
Learn how your body uses food.
For me, I have found that I need a main meal roughly every six hours and a largish snack every three hours. If I am doing an extensive day working on the computer, I will prepare several small mouthful snacks to have at my desk to munch on throughout the day. These little bursts of energy can be nibbled on as and when needed.
Point 2: Fluids
Okay, so you have eaten recently but what about everything else you consume. If you are dry as a dusty bone on the inside, you’re not going to have the ability to complete everything you need to. I know this isn’t technically how it works, but think of it this way, the amount of liquid you put into your body, the easier it is to pump your blood around and therefore everything gets done a little easier.
The more hydrated you are, generally more awake you feel. The more energy you generally have and the more you generally get accomplished.
I learnt this the hard way.
Throughout the first two years of uni I really struggled to maintain a healthy amount of fluid intake a day; as I don’t generally drink alcohol I didn’t fit the usually standards of a uni student (which I personally, find quite offensive to the students that aren’t there for the parties). I was drinking two energy drinks throughout the 9/10 hours a day I was at university itself, and then I would have a large mug of coffee when I got home to see me late into the night when I would work on assignments, reading, and general workload.
I found myself really struggling to get motivated, the buzz of the energy drinks lasted minutes rather than the hours they originally did. I was getting headaches all the time. I found concentrating throughout my lectures impossible and I found my work dropping. But then I made a change.
I stopped drinking the energy drinks, I started taking a large bottle of water with me to class and suddenly I didn’t have the second hour droop and I no longer felt like I needed to nap through my dinner.
So, its not only that you have been drinking, but what you have been drinking!
Point 3: Sleep
Guys, we all know that when we are tired we just cant get things done. You are groggy and slow, you are thinking about sleep.
This step is simple, and no its not go and take a nap because sometimes you cant (although they had some lovely small rooms at the university!). Think about two things!
- How much sleep have you had over the last three nights?
This is not over the last night because sleep is built up and if you haven’t slept for one night, then the next night when you finally sleep you are playing catch-up. Every hour of sleep that we need but don’t have, the body must catch-up with before we can get the rest we need.
- Has your sleep been continuous or broken?
Broken sleep is as bad as no sleep, if you find that you are waking often in the night it would be a good idea to explore why. If you find that you are having nightmares or waking often for other reasons, it would be a good idea to explore this further and attempt to make some changes; such as trying to sleep earlier or take a day where you relax and lounge all day.
Point 4: Walk
So, one of the major elements of my dissertation was the influence of nature on memory and behaviour; finding that nature (specifically green trees and evergreen ferns) positively influences behaviour. The effect of sunlight has also been noted across many areas of psychology to positively influence mood and energises the person.
Have you been walking in the sunshine today? Have you been near any plants?
Go for a walk around your neighbourhood, or if you are at work then spend your dinner walking around the nearest park or green area (there is generally one within walking distance). If you are outside for only a little while, you will feel the benefits.
Point 5: Talk
Guys, you are not lone wolves and you need conversation and companionship. Whether it is through social media, through text messages, call someone or (even better) go and visit someone.
Conversation, exchange of ideas, the communication of emotions; these things bring out happiness. Unless of course they are negative people. Surround yourself with positive people and positivity will find you.
So guys, those are my five go to areas when I am feel low and need to work out what is wrong. I hope these can help you find a more productive and energised mood if you are in need of it.
If you have any extra tips pop them in the comments, the more the merrier.