Using Activity to Regulate Your Mood

It can be hard to keep active during the pandemic—but it's crucial to try
May 18, 2020 Updated: May 25, 2020

One great way to regulate mood and stave-off depression during lockdown is with activity. Of course, for many, the options available just a few months ago no longer exist.

A new study published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) found that activities are a useful form of mood regulation. They found that many people use activities to bring them up when they are feeling down, creating something dubbed “mood homeostasis.”

This has become much more challenging in the pandemic as activity choices may feel extremely limited. It’s possible that you or the people you love are finding it increasingly difficult to work up the energy to engage in meaningful activities.

It’s estimated that more than 7 percent of American adults have had at least one major depressive episode. Because medications only work about half the time, finding alternative ways to improve mood can be a useful form of treatment.

The big question is what can you actually do when a pandemic has turned normal life upside down.

Thinking outside the box is likely the best way to get through it. People I know have been able to adapt by dancing at home, scheduling virtual game nights with friends, working on small indoor vegetable gardens, or heading out for walks around their neighborhood.

But really, it doesn’t stop there. For example, if you’re involved in your local church or another community group, you can find new ways to engage. Perhaps you can help others by writing a newsletter for members, conducting interviews, or hosting a virtual service.

You can dive a little bit deeper into a hobby or take a closer look at something you’ve always wanted to learn. The key is to find things that keep you occupied and feeling good.

Finding ways to regulate mood can come with a host of other benefits. Avoiding depression might help with pain relief, cognition, inflammation, and a lower risk for heart disease.

Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade. During a three-year communications program in Germany, he developed an interest in German medicine (homeopathy) and other alternative systems of medicine. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.