Any time you’re feeling down, you have two options. You can keep doing what you’re doing, which means continuing to feel less than ideal. Or, you can make a change and try to pick yourself back up.
The latter isn’t always easy. If you’re feeling down, you’re likely suffering from a lack of motivation, sadness, or stress, which can all cause you to want to stay exactly where you are. Because it can be difficult to know what to do when you’re down, we came up with 10 things to try to get that smile back on your face.
1. Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. While it’s beneficial to aspire to greatness, sometimes you need to sit back, reflect, and recognize all the good things you have going on right now.
When you’re feeling down, try this: think about the things in life you’re grateful for. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to constantly achieve, and be content with who you are right now at this moment. And remember, happiness is a choice.
2. Get up and Move
One of the best ways to pick yourself up when you’re having a tough day is to get up and do some exercise.
One study found that “exercise, whether performed at a low (yoga or similar), moderate or vigorous intensity (aerobic training) is effective in treating mild to moderate depression and is at least as effective as treatment as usual by a physician”
Therefore, even if you don’t enjoy Zumba or Pilates classes, taking a walk around the block can be just as effective in lifting your spirits. Whatever you do, get up, get moving, and get over it.
3. Surround Yourself With People You Love
Family members and friends can be the best medicine when you are feeling depressed or stressed from time to time. Even if you can’t see them in person, pick up the phone and call someone you love. Sometimes all you need is a friend to listen to you and offer some positive thoughts.
Many studies have pointed out the importance of social support on overall well-being. Tough days are inevitable, but having people to go to at those times makes a world of difference and can help you turn things around. If you’ve been suffering from depression or excessive stress for a long time, support groups can also be a great way to find connection.
4. Find a Way to Laugh
We take life a little too seriously sometimes, so let’s put this in perspective: how you’re feeling right now is one tiny moment out of the thousands you will experience in your lifetime.
Know that sadness is temporary, and pick yourself up by watching your favorite funny show, movie, or video online.
One study has pointed out that “laughter decreases serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, growth hormone, and 3,4-dihydrophenylacetic acid (a major dopamine catabolite), indicating a reversal of the stress response”. Therefore, laughter can be especially effective if you’re had a stressful day at work or are feeling frustrated with life.
5. Eat Something Healthy
When people are feeling down, most turn to junk food. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health.
Recent studies have pointed to a link between food and mood. Some suggest that Vitamin D can help lower rates of depression, while another found “an association between depression and a diet rich in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains, and red meat”.
While a general consensus on diet and mood has not yet been reached, it’s safe to say that eating healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds can help you feel better and fill your body with proper nutrients. That’s a win-win.
6. Take Deep Breaths
Focusing on your breathing may not sound like much, but it can make a world of difference if you’re feeling down. When you breathe deeply, your brain sends a message to your body to calm down, which decreases your body’s overall stress response.
Spend a few minutes focusing on nothing except your breath. Take long, slow breaths, and get rid of all negative thoughts on each exhale. Try these 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly).
7. Spend Time With Animals
Pets are therapeutic, and they’re smart; they can sense when you’re sad. Dogs are especially good for when you’re feeling down as they can motivate you to get out and walk. However, simply stroking a dog or cat can provide relief from stress and frustration.
Even if you don’t have a pet, you likely have a friend who does. Try spending some time around animals, and watch your stress melt away.
8. Do Something Spontaneous
You may not feel like doing much when you’re feeling down, but one of the best ways to free your mind of those pesky negative thoughts is to go out and do something totally spontaneous.
Take an impromptu road trip to go visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Visit your favorite store and treat yourself to a new outfit. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
By stepping outside of your comfort zone, even for only a few minutes, you will inject some motivation and positivity into your day.
9. Read Something Inspirational
Words have the power to heal and pick you back up when you’re down. Go online and search for inspirational quotes. Watch a speech from a famous and inspiring leader you admire, or read a thoughtful or inspiring book.
This is great for a rainy day when you’re stuck inside, or when you’re trying to build up the motivation to do something more active.
10. Get Some Work Done
Here’s an easy way to take your mind off negative thoughts when you’re having a bad day: do some work.
Whether it’s your job, doing chores, or working on a project you’re passionate about, getting work done will help you feel productive and free up your mind. Working around the house can also be a good way to get into a state of flow, which will occupy your mind and get you away from negative ruminations.
More for When You’re Feeling Down
- How to Be Happy Again: 13 Simple Ways to Shake off Sadness Now
- 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down
- How to Not Be Sad When It Feels Like Everything Is Going Wrong
Featured photo credit: Cameron Stow via unsplash.com
|||^||Preventative Medicine: Training fast or slow? Exercise for depression: A randomized controlled trial|
|||^||ResearchGate: Close Relationships and Happiness|
|||^||The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine: Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review|
|||^||Harvard Health Publishing: Food and mood: Is there a connection?|
|||^||Top 10 Home Remedies: 10 Foods to Eat to Fight Depression|
|||^||University of Michigan: Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation|
|||^||Mental Health Foundation: Pets and mental health|