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You've tried prescriptions, counseling and perhaps local divorce groups.  But the results have left you feeling about the same.  Perhaps you have always feared talking about your problems with a therapist and have no interest in starting now.  While each of us has his/her own way of coping with problems, the worst thing you can do is nothing.

If you are on the path of self-medication, losing interest in things and people you love and/or starting to feel like you're not making the best decisions, it might be a good time to employ some useful changes in your life to get moving in the right direction.  

How to turn your life around

First, recognize the triggers that cause you to slip.  Slipping means binge drinking or eating, staying in one place ("ehm" the couch or bed) for long periods of time, calling in sick, increased mood swings, tiredness or generalized sadness.  The goal is to be aware of these triggers, then stop feeding them.  Some of them may surprise you.  Don't worry, below the triggers, you will find the solutions for each one.

Possible Triggers:

1. Happy Friends - Sad You.  It may not be the right time to be surrounded by friends who have happy marriages and/or something that you feel you have lost.  While we usually enjoy their company, it may not be unreasonable for it to trigger some emotional feelings about your recent divorce.  This doesn't mean to completely close yourself off from close friends, but also consider some new ones who may provide much needed perspective and empathy.  It's also not the time to answer personal questions openly to a large group of friends, mutual or otherwise, when you have intense emotional drama happening in your life.

2. Sad Music.  While we are drawn to sad music, movies or stories as a means of expressing a connection to something profoundly sad based on our current situation, it may be feeding your sadness and depressed mood.  This doesn't mean to avoid an occasional song or two, just don't set your playlist to "sad stuff" for long.

3. Ex Ruminating. Don't make yourself crazy thinking about your ex and or his/her new love interest.  Your imagination may do more harm than good!  Also, try to ask as few details from others.  Trust us!  It won't help to know any details!

4. Crappy Job.  If your job sucks, get a better one!  Don't stay with anything that makes you miserable.  Take the steps necessary to:  improve your current job, get a better position with the same company, look for a completely new job and company that will be more in line with your interests and expertise or consider education or training towards a brand-new career.

5. Keeping Bad Stuff Top of Mind.  Talk less about your problems and listen more.  Talking too much about things in your life that aren't good won't make you feel better.  Again, this feeds depression and negative thoughts.  An occasional night out with friends with a bit of ex bashing isn't too bad, just keep it light and keep the overall mood fun! Remember, be a good listener too.  Sometimes when the attention is on someone else's problems, we forget about our own.

6. Not Doing. This one is simple, but one of the most common sadness traps.  Most of us don't want to get up and get moving when we feel lousy.  Yep, we sit on the couch, at the computer or on our phones or tablets getting nothing productive done.  While, a reasonable amount of down time is good, it should actually be reduced when you're feeling glum.

So, now you know some possible triggers that may at first seem like a natural "to do" when you're feeling down, but in fact are culprits in making you feel worse.  Now, to be successful at improving your sad self, you need to replace the triggers right away when you start to feel drawn to them.


1. Friends. Spend time with your friends individually.  It makes you feel less like "odd man out" when you are spending time with each of them.  They too are more sensitive to your feelings rather than in a group that is laughing and sharing about husband & wife tribulations and stories for which you currently don't relate.  

2. Music. Sometimes a sad song is what you need, but after a couple songs, change the tempo to some upbeat mixes that will lift your spirits.  If that doesn't work, it might not be a bad idea to turn off the music or add something to what you are doing that changes your mood.  Some other form of expression.  Write, read, organize something.  Sometimes accomplishing a small goal is enough emotional money to wake up your positive mood.

3. Adjust. When feelings about an ex come up, whether it be sadness, blame, regret or jealousy - stop what you are doing and start a new task.  If that still doesn't stop sad thoughts, then change what you are doing again until you get feeling better.

4. Self-Improvement. It's not easy to leave a job if you have been there a long time.  Sometimes the job seeking task is daunting.  So, instead of trying to see the whole thing as a project, break it down into manageable tasks.  1. Sign up to a job seeking site like Indeed or Monster. 2. See what job skills and experience/education fit with current posts 3. Update your resume and upload to the sites for easy submissions, etc.  Many times, you can submit your resume in one step, right from your phone.  But first you must upload it.   Set a timeline that specifies when to accomplish each task to get that dream job!

5. Positivity. Get out there and feed the positive things in your life.  Look at all the negative as a serious enemy.  When it comes up, acknowledge it and quickly move past it.  It drains you and your happiness, so while you can give it a minute of your time (like an accident on the side of the road) don't let it worry you to the point it pulls you off course.

6. Activity. You will know you do not have enough to do when you start letting sadness in.  While we can all get sad, even when we are busy; staying busy will keep you distracted enough until the terrible feeling is perhaps less traumatic.  If the sadness is unremitting despite efforts to fight it with a busy schedule and positive outlook, then you may be suffering from a clinical depression and should seek counseling and speak with a physician to understand your options for treatment. 

If you are one of the unlucky ones who have been treated for depression without success before, you may get better results when adding non-traditional forms of therapy to standard treatment.  Consider a wholistic approach that includes help with nutrition, meditation and/or music therapy.  Speak with your physician about the differences in anti-depressants and don't be afraid to get a second opinion when your doctor fails to provide a therapy that helps.  You need a doctor who takes the time to understand what's happening and provide options that are suited to you and your goals.

However, if there is something that is continuing to transpire in your life that is also causing sadness, know that nothing will totally solve the problem until you get to the root of the precipitator and completely extinguish it.      

For more information regarding anxiety, depression, medications and alternative therapies read our related DMK articles:

Depression. Real. Simple. Miserable.

Do I Need a Prescription to Fight My Depression?

How to Cope with Social Anxiety


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