By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen Tribune News Service.
Do you feel tired and unable to push toward your goals? Do you feel like a robot that needs new batteries?
All of us can reach the point of forcing ourselves to function. But if we look at what's behind this, we may see that a bad mood or depression is contributing to the tiredness.
What we say to ourselves is a powerful driving force. So, we have to be careful about our internal dialogue.
"I'm having a lot of financial problems, and the more I worry, the more exhausted I become," says a friend of ours who just lost her job.
Another man we know says his job as a news reporter is affecting his mood. "I have to share all the gloom and doom," he told us recently.
In order to crawl out of a bad mood, it pays to focus on what will help. We can create a better mood by how we manage our emotions.
These tips can help:
-Work on problems at a regular, fixed time. For instance, if you're unemployed and working on a job search, keep this limited to 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Refuse to work on it until bedtime, for example.
-Realize that consistency will correct problems. For instance, exercising three days a week for three years beats hit-and-miss workouts. Figure out what will work for you over time.
-Listen to your favorite music. Good music will lift your mood faster than anything. Keep your favorite songs readily available, even if you can only listen 10 minutes at a time.
-Put a limit on feeling sad. Even if your favorite pet died this week, make it a point to limit your grieving. Dwelling on sadness and sorrow doesn't celebrate the life of people or pets who've died. Instead, think about the good times you've spent with them.
"Watching my moods and my emotional state helps bolster my energy to go to the gym," says a friend of ours who just filed for divorce. We'll call her Rebecca.
"I was in a group therapy session for people having relationships problems," says Rebecca. "I'd completely quit exercising after catching my husband with another woman. But in this group, people kept saying that exercise was a great deterrent to depression. I started walking two miles a day after work, and I finally added an additional 45 minutes of working out. My mood began to improve right away."
Rebecca says her energy has picked up dramatically in the past two months. "As I try to focus on what's going right in my life, my energy stays higher. Listening to music when I walk definitely helps. It takes me back to a time when my life was more carefree. The music also keeps me from talking negatively to myself and thinking about my pain."
Raising your energy or improving your mood really boils down to focus. Ask yourself, "What am I focusing on? Am I practicing positive self-talk, or am I worried most of the time?"
Worry is a signal you need to do some problem-solving. For example, focus on one or two steps you can take to chisel away at a major problem. Could you ask someone for help? Could you decide to do something differently?
It's easier to stay in a better frame of mind, if you can envision pushing the right buttons. Taking action to push those buttons will actually restore some of your energy. ___ (Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.com Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)