Low mood 

Everyone feels sad or low at some stage of their lives.

A distressing event or major change in your life can affect your mood. But sometimes it's possible to feel low for no clear reason.

A low mood can make you feel less confident, tired, frustrated, angry or worried.

Our tips to help with low mood can help to boost your energy levels and your mood.

Signs of low mood

A low mood can affect how you think, feel and behave, including:

  • feeling sad or not enjoying things as much as you did

  • feeling anxious or panicky

  • being more tired than usual or sleep problems

  • being irritable

  • feeling angry or frustrated

  • feeling worthless or guilty

  • an increase or decrease in your appetite

  • finding it hard to concentrate

  • loss of interest in sex

A low mood often gets better after a few days or weeks. If it lasts longer than 2 weeks, it may be a sign of depression and you may need to talk to someone else.

Causes of low mood

There are many reasons why you might feel low at some point in your life. Any difficult event or experience can affect your mood.

Some things that may cause a low mood include:

  • pressure at work

  • unemployment

  • retirement

  • relationship difficulties

  • divorce

  • caring for someone

  • financial problems

  • illness or injury

  • bereavement

It's also possible to feel low without there being an obvious reason.

Low mood can also be part of stress.

Tips to help with low mood

There are many things you can do to help improve your mood by making small changes at a time.

Connect with other people

It can be hard to connect with people when you are busy, stressed or feeling low. But connecting with friends, family, neighbours or people you work with can help you feel happier. Even having casual friends at work or to share a hobby or leisure activity with can help your mood.

There are lots of ways to connect with other people. For example, meeting for coffee, going for a walk, video calling or messaging on your phone.

A lack of motivation or being withdrawn are common with a low mood. Make time to connect with people and stick with these plans, even if you don't feel like it. Try to connect with someone you like each day.

If you connect with people, you will also have support to turn to when you need help.

Talk with someone

If you feel low, it can help to talk to a friend or family member about how you feel.

Telling someone about how you are feeling can help to make things clearer for you. It can help you understand why you are feeling low and to get help with how to manage it.

Do things you enjoy

A low mood can stop you doing the things you enjoy. If you are not doing things you enjoy and value, your mood can dip even more.

Make a list of things you enjoy and try to do some of them regularly. Start with ones that are easier to arrange.

Do something creative

Creative activities can boost your mood. For example, writing, cooking, painting, sewing, photography or playing an instrument. They can bring you enjoyment and fulfilment and can engage your full attention.

This can help you forget negative thoughts and make you feel happier.

Listen to music

Music can be a powerful way to change your mood.

Create a playlist of songs that you enjoy or find uplifting, for when you are feeling low. This can improve your mood and make you feel happier.

Challenge negative thinking

Negative thought patterns can make a low mood worse. They can lead to unhelpful feelings and actions.

Try to challenge negative thoughts.

Ask yourself:

  • what is the evidence for and against your negative thought?

  • are there other ways you can look at this situation?

  • if you were to be positive about the situation, how would you view it?

Try to change a negative thought for a more helpful one. Sometimes you will be able to, but it is OK if you cannot. 


Mindfulness teaches you to become aware of the present moment. This helps you enjoy things more.

You can learn to not react or become overwhelmed by what’s going on around you by doing mindfulness. Instead, you notice your thoughts, feelings and sensations.

Mindfulness can be an easy activity you can fit into your day.


Stress can make you feel more tired than usual. It can also make it more difficult to get or stay asleep.

Sleep is important for mental health. It helps you to think clearly and gives you the energy to deal with problems.

Most people need 5 to 9 hours sleep a night. More than 7 hours is recommended for adults. The ideal amount is 8 hours, but everyone's different.

Healthy eating

What you eat can make a difference to your mental health. A diet rich in foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds can boost your energy and mental health. 

Get active

Physical activity will help you sleep, relax and feel better. It helps reduce stress, burn off anxious energy and feel calm. It can also be a good way to meet people and get more involved in your community.

Any activity is useful, as long as it is suited to your ability and you do enough of it. Find something that you enjoy doing. This will help keep you motivated to do it every day.

Smoking and Alcohol

If you feel stressed, you may drink more alcohol or smoke more than you usually do.

It might be tempting to use smoking and alcohol to manage stress. But try not to do this as a way of coping. 


Breathing exercises can help your mind and body get control of a difficult situation. They only take a few minutes to do and can help you manage strong emotions and reduce stress.