Mental Health

How A Rewarding Activity Can Help Improve Your Mood

Depression can hit anyone at any time and for a multitude of reasons.  We can only guess at the number of sufferers that are out there but I would suggest that it’s highly likely that most people have experienced some period of depression in their lives.  Here we will discuss how a rewarding activity can help improve your mood.

Depression has historically carried a stigma and to some degree still does.  Fortunately, attitudes are slowly changing.  However, you still hear people come out with old cliches like ‘pull yourself together’ or ‘ man up’ when dealing with a sufferer.  It’s no wonder so many people living with depression choose to conceal their affliction.  Such comments lead to feelings of guilt and shame causing greater isolation and further despair.

Just because you may suffer from depression doesn’t define you as a person.  You are still a valuable member of society with a lot to offer.  Many historical figures have suffered from depression.  Perhaps the most famous was Winston Churchill.  It’s been documented that he described his depressive episodes as the ‘black dog’ but it didn’t prevent him from making his great achievements.

How A Rewarding Activity Can Help Improve Your Mood

If you have a supportive family or friends that you can talk to then that’s brilliant.  Sadly, not everyone does but there are many activities you can do alone to help alleviate depression.

I’ve written previously about one method I use to help break the habit of negative thinking.  It’s what I call a ‘distraction’ technique and playing video games is one that works for me.  I thought I’d share some of the games I’ve been playing recently and why specifically I found them beneficial.  I like retro games and I like games I can easily dip in and out of without having to make any heavy commitment.  I also prefer games with an educational angle so I feel I’m getting a mental workout as well as having fun and that leaves me with a sense of achievement. The games I focus on are suitable for any ability and age.

As you get older you tend to lose some of your cognitive powers.  You can help slow this process down by practising mental puzzles or anything that makes you think.  I especially value holding on to my maths skills so I’ve been focusing on trying to keep them sharp.  I’ve found these particular games really useful in matching my objectives:

Arithmetic Game is simply that.  You can jump straight in to test your maths skills.  To begin with, you’re presented with the numbers in a sum.  All you have to do is choose whether you need to insert a multiplication, an addition, a subtraction or a division sign into the box to complete the sum that equals the given answer.  They are quite simple but you only get 30 seconds to amass as many correct answers as possible.  It’s the time pressure that is likely to lead to any wrong answers.  I like to use this game as a warm-up to something more challenging.

How A Rewarding Activity Can Help Improve Your Mood

Memory Math Game is certainly much more challenging.  You may have previously played this game with playing cards, in which the pack is placed face down and you have to find pairs to remove them.  In this case, you’re trying to match numbers, spots and sums that equal each other.

At the start of each game, you briefly get to see what’s behind each tile.  To begin with, the grid contains just 6 tiles and you have to match each number with the tile containing the same number of spots.  As you progress, the grids contain up to 30 tiles and you will have to match the numbers with sums.  There are 8 levels to work through in all.  The aim is to complete each grid in the fewest moves and in the shortest time.  This will fully test your powers of concentration but it’s really rewarding when you achieve your goal and it’s great to come back to try and beat your previous best.

How A Rewarding Activity Can Help Improve Your Mood

There are loads more games on this site plus some useful financial calculators that I’ve made use of, such as the budget planner.

Sometimes low mood and depression can start to kick in when we’re bored and alone with our own thoughts, which can all too easily take us in a negative direction.  Keeping your mind and body active in an enjoyable way can really help and take you away from these difficult moments.  This may at times feel difficult especially if you’re experiencing a lack of energy or enthusiasm but the benefits are worth it.

You don’t have to like video games, it’s whatever works for you and the more things you can try, the better.  Just use your imagination.  Perhaps, start with a simple country walk and focus on your senses.  Feel the breeze, listen to the birds, smell the wildflowers, taste some blackberries and enjoy the views.

Small and simple activities can raise your mood and help break the cycle of negative thinking to give a more positive long-term outlook.



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