Everyone experiences bad days. But 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.
However, you need to intentionally make an effort to improve your mood if you want your day to turn around. Even the simplest change in your mindset can do wonders in changing your perspective. In time, you’ll end up feeling a lot better.
Because it can be difficult to know what to do when you’re down, we came up with 10 ways to improve your mood to get that smile back on your face.
10 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Down
While it is really okay to feel sad sometimes, there are some really quick ways to improve our moods and feel great instantly.
Ready to find out how to improve your mood? Keep on reading.
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.
This might seem hard, but sometimes the only thing we might need is to put a little distance between ourselves and the issue at hand. Sometimes this can give us a whole new perspective on the problem.
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.
Another thing you can do is to stop feeling guilty for resting. Do you feel like you need someone to drag you just so you can take a tiny step forward?
Try taking a short 20-minute nap before doing your next chore. Believe it or not, you will feel so recharged and energetic that you’ll find it hard to believe that you had only dozed off for 20 minutes.
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.
Many geniuses have had their most important breakthroughs while taking long walks. Walking helps you get off your back, get some exercise while soaking in different scenes along the way. There are several attestations to the therapeutic effects of walking.
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. This makes this tip one of the best ways to improve your mood.
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.
When you are feeling the blues, it almost always helps to talk to someone – even if it is not about what’s eating you at the moment. Just getting out there and being with someone – talking, laughing and being in a different environment can do a great deal to alleviate the pain.
Additionally, touch can be a great healer. Humans are wired to have the ability to interpret the touch of another person. Even newborn babies can tell the touch of a stranger from their mother’s. The deep nurturing nature of a tight hug releases happy hormones in the brain, making us feel instantly better.
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’ve 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).
As much as you can, try to do this tip in a comfortable environment that is free of any distractions. This way, you can really disconnect yourself temporarily from everything that is causing you stress.
7. Spend Time With Animals
Love never fails to heal. When it is unconditional, it can seem like someone poured a magic potion for you. Science says that spending time with loving pets can make a big difference to our moods.
This is one of the best things to do to improve your mood because 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 learn how to improve your mood quickly and take your mind off negative thoughts when you’re having a bad day: do some work.
It is also important to remember that body language affects how we feel. If you want to feel friendly, smile more. If you are feeling sloppy, dress smartly.
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.
Organize your day and utilize the best chunks of your time to accomplish the hardest task for the day. Feeling productive is one of the best rewards the human brain craves for. Keeping a list of the opposite, the not-to-do list is also recommended by experts as a wellness boosting exercise.
When all else fails, there’s always coffee. And wine!
When you don’t feel your best, it’s tempting to just wallow in that negative feeling. However, this will do you more harm than good. Now that you are armed with ways on how to improve mood, you can finally take back control of your life and not let negative things weigh you down.
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|