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26 Ways to Instantly Feel Better When You’re Down

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26 Ways to Instantly Feel Better When You’re Down

Everyone goes through ups and downs in life. However, some know how to feel better more quickly, as they’ve found unique remedies to negative feelings. If you’re not one of those people and still struggle to get up when you’re feeling down, we have some suggestions to help.

It’s important to recognize and feel negative emotions when they arise, but it’s also imperative that you don’t stay there too long. Use some of the following tips and tricks to overcome negative self-talk and emotions and get back to feeling like the best version of yourself.

1. Listen to Good Music

You know what kind of music makes you feel good. Maybe it’s metal, indie pop, jazz, or rock. When you’re down, do you prefer something calming and relaxing, or something that will get you up and dancing?

You can also listen to the songs you loved when you were in high school or university. This will help you remember good times with past friends.

2. Journal It out

Write down how you feel as a way to express your thoughts if you don’t feel like talking to anyone. This can help you identify the root of your current unhappiness, which will offer a direct way out.

3. Draw or Doodle

If you don’t want to write, try drawing or doodling to help make sense of your emotions. You may be surprised what comes up. Draw anything you want because no one’s going to judge your drawing skills.

4. Read Past Emails, Texts, or Letters

Reading messages sent to you in the past by friends or family can help you remember that there are people who love and care about you. If you’re trying to figure out how to feel better, find some especially uplifting messages when you’re feeling down.

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5. Reflect on a Great Day

Silently think of a day or moment which you truly enjoyed, and try to recapture that very first feeling. Close your eyes and try to relive it through your five senses. This will trick the brain into thinking it’s real and may help return some of those positive emotions.

6. Look at Photos

Take out your photo albums and go through photos that make you smile. You can look at an old family vacation album or photos from the day you graduated. Just find photos that bring up positive, happy memories.

7. Cry

You should absolutely cry when you feel like doing so. Cry out all your fear and stress; what’s left after will help you look at your current problems with a fresh perspective.

As one article points out, “The stress-relieving response of crying has been found to be preceded by an uptick in parasympathetic nervous system activity, which means crying is facilitating activity that helps you start to relax”[1].

It’s great to practice being strong, but if you’re feeling especially anxious or stressed, a good cry can go a long way.

8. Sing

Sing loudly like no one can hear you if you want to learn how to feel better. Did you know that in Japan, people always sing karaoke to relieve stress?

9. Cook a Healthy Meal

Cook a nice meal for yourself or for your family. Healthy food naturally makes you feel better by helping to balance hormones in the body. Furthermore, connecting with friends and family over good food will help you lean on your support system if you’re having a bad day.

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10. Dress up

This is all about improving your self-image. If you feel better about yourself by changing the clothes you’re wearing, this will cultivate more positive emotions. Maybe, for dinner tonight, put on that nice new shirt you haven’t found a reason to wear yet.

11. Get out of Bed

It’s incredibly tempting to stay in bed and scroll through social media when we’re feeling down, but if you want to know how to feel better, you need to get out into the world. Grab your laptop or a book and go hang out at your favorite coffee place.

12. Take a Walk

Walking in nature and getting fresh air has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall well being. If you have access to a nature path, that’s a great option. If not, get out into your neighborhood and begin to notice the trees and birds along the road, and focus on your breathing to improve relaxation.

13. Sweat

If you’re working on how to fee better, getting in some exercise can do wonders. Exercise releases feel-good hormones and naturally relieves stress and anxiety. If you’re having a bad day, go for a jog or find a yoga video on YouTube.

14. Play an Instrument

If you have a guitar or drum set lying around, go play some music! This will help distract you from the challenges of the day.

15. Tidy up

As you’re learning how to feel better, organize your desk or closet; you’ll feel good that you’re being productive and actually doing something. Furthermore, clutter can cause increased stress as it impedes focus, so organizing can help you today and in the days to come[2].

16. Watch Funny Videos

YouTube is full of funny videos for all ages. Find something that makes you laugh out loud to get those good vibes flowing.

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17. Eat Something Delicious

Don’t go overboard, but if you need a little pick-me-up, eat a small piece of cake, a scoop of ice cream, or a slice of pie. Let yourself indulge, just don’t empty the gallon of ice cream.

18. Reread a Favorite Book

When you’re feeling down, you probably won’t want to put energy toward reading something new, but you can pick up an old favorite that you know makes you feel good. You can even write down specific quotes or passages you love and hang them on your fridge or near your computer.

19. Watch a New Movie

There are likely tons of movies you’ve always interested in but had no time to watch. If you’re learning how to feel better, now is a great time to watch one of those. Try to pick one that is funny or lighthearted before moving on to the others.

20. Do Something Nice

Do something nice that no one will notice. For example, you can pick up an empty plastic bottle in the street and throw it to a recycling bin. Or you can donate some old clothes to the local homeless shelter. Do something nice without looking for recognition in order to internalize those warm, fuzzy emotions that come from being kind.

21. Call Your Best Friend

Call up a good friend and just talk about whatever you want. If you don’t want to talk about what’s bothering you, focus on other things. Human beings are social animals after all, and connecting with people close to you will make you feel better.

22. Volunteer

As you’re learning how to feel better, this may not help you this very moment, but you can get online and look for places you can volunteer. In the long run, this will help you find a greater sense of purpose and happiness.

23. Let Loose

If you’re feeling bad, have a drink with a friend at home or put on some loud music and dance around the house with your kids. Do something that helps you feel free and alive.

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24. Write to a Friend or Family Member

Write up a message to a friend or family member and tell them how much you care about them. Sending good vibes to them will naturally return those same good feelings to you, as you’ll know you made someone feel good.

25. Get out of Your Routine

Get out and meet new friends. Step out of your comfort zone by going to a new restaurant, going on a blind date, or dropping everything to go camping for the weekend. Meeting new people and having new experiences can inspire more positive feelings and help you learn how to feel better.

26. Look in the Mirror and Smile

Smiling releases neuropeptides, which help fight stress. Other feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin will follow these, offering you a good dose of positivity. It’s difficult to go on feeling sad if you’re trying to smile!

The Bottom Line

If you’re having a hard time, it can be difficult to focus on learning how to feel better. It’s best to start with something small to get some good energy flowing. From there, you can move on to bigger actions that can bring more positivity into your life day after day.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  —Epictetus

More on How to Feel Better

Featured photo credit: Chermiti Mohamed via unsplash.com

Reference

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Anna Chui

Anna is the Editor-in-Chief and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert and shares tips on happiness and relationships.

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Last Updated on January 19, 2022

What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

If you’ve ever thought or said something like this, then you are using fear-based motivation:

  • “If I don’t get that promotion, I’m going to be seen as a failure so I better stay up all night to work on this proposal.”
  • “If I speak up for school reform, the internet trolls are going to get me, so I better be quiet even though I care a lot about this issue.”
  • “If I don’t exercise enough, I’m going to look like crap, so I better go to the gym six days a week, even if my body is killing me.”

Fear-based motivation is exactly what it sounds like—getting yourself and others to do things out of fear of what will happen if you don’t do it and do it well.

What you might not know is that while fear-based motivation might work in the short term, it can have long-term detrimental effects on your performance, relationships, and well-being.

Is Fear-Based Motivation Helpful?

If using fear as motivation comes naturally for you, you aren’t alone. Our brains use fear to keep us out of trouble. Normally, you want to move away from what feels harmful towards what feels safe.

This brain function is important when there is a genuine threat to your well-being, like if there is a rattlesnake on the hiking trail. Your brain will use fear to motivate you to move away from the snake as quickly as possible. But when you use fear-based motivation to accomplish your life and career goals, the constant state of fear puts unnecessary stress on your mind and body and can end up working against you.

The Darkside of Fear-Based Motivation

Take, for example, when your trainer at your gym motivates you during your workout by yelling things like, “Bikini season is coming! You don’t want your cellulite to be the star of the show!” or “Burn off that piece of birthday cake you ate last night!”

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Sure, you might be motivated to do ten more burpees, but what is going on in the back of your mind? You probably have an image of a group of people standing around you at the beach laughing at you in your bikini, or you feel guilty about eating that piece of cake and criticize yourself for not being able to control yourself.

Reliance on Negative Thinking

For most of us, this type of thinking causes stress and can bring down our energy levels and mood. The reliance on negative thinking is the problem with fear-based motivation. It forces us to put our attention on what is wrong or what could go wrong instead of anticipating and celebrating what is right. This, in turn, narrows our focus and prevents us from seeing the bigger picture.

When your brain senses a threat, whether it’s a rattlesnake hiding in the grass or the possibility of being laughed at in your bikini, your brain will move you into a protective stance. Your vision narrows and you prepare to fight, flee or freeze.

You can probably imagine what this looks like in the case of a rattlesnake, but how does this impact your bikini experience?

The High Cost of Fear-Based Motivation

Imagine that you plan a beach vacation with your friends three months from now. The first thing you picture is sitting on the beach with your tummy rolls and cellulite. You immediately sign up for three months of boot camp classes at the gym and banish all sugar and booze from your diet. You are determined not to make a fool of yourself on the beach!

Will the fear of not looking like a supermodel under the beach umbrella motivate you to get in shape and eat better? Possibly. But at what cost?

For three months, every time you picture yourself looking “less than perfect” in your bikini, you feel fear of being ashamed. Shame makes you want to hide, and that makes it harder to find the motivation to go to the gym instead of sitting on the couch eating ice cream.

You become so focused on how you are going to look on the beach that you lose out on all the fun and joy of life. You pass up on going shopping with your friends for new outfits because you aren’t at your goal weight yet. You stop doing the things you love to do to spend more time at the gym. You avoid family gatherings where you will be confronted with tempting food. You over-train to the point of hurting yourself.

The Healthier Alternative to Fear-Based Motivation

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in your bikini! If that’s important to you, keep your goal in mind but change the way you motivate yourself. Instead of using the fear of feeling ashamed to motivate you, try using love-based motivation.

Love-based motivation uses love instead of fear to lead and inspire you. It comes from a different part of your brain than fear-based motivation. Love-based motivation comes from the part of your brain that is responsible for joy, creativity, and passion.

5 Questions of Love-Based Motivation

There are many ways to deploy love-based motivation. The trick is to use one or all of the following to motivate you towards your goal: empathy, curiosity, innovation, vision, and heart-centered action.

Here are five questions you can use to motivate yourself using love-based motivation.

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1. What Would You Say to a Friend?

Chances are that you talk to your friends in a much kinder way and with more empathy than you talk to yourself. You wouldn’t tell a friend, “you better starve yourself and hit the gym three times a day to look good in that bikini!” Instead, you would probably say something like, “I’m so excited to go on this vacation with you! I can’t wait to spend time catching up while sipping margaritas on the beach.”

Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friend.

2. What Are You Curious About Learning That Might Help You Get to Your Goal?

More often than not, achieving our goals is more about the journey it took us to get there than the goal itself. Curiosity makes journeys more fun. Perhaps you are curious about doing a triathlon but you don’t know how to run. If you spend three months learning to run, you would get into better shape and learn something new.

3. How Can You Get to Your Goal in a Way That Feels Good?

Using the “Yes, And” game is a great way to come up with innovative ideas for working towards your goals. If your first instinct is to go to the gym six days a week but you aren’t jazzed about it, find something that you like about that idea and make it better.

For example, if what you like about going to the gym is that you work up a sweat, what if instead of the gym, you join a dance class where you can learn some new moves to show off on your vacation?

4. What Is Important to You About Your Goal?

When you dig into your goal, chances are that you’ll find a deeper meaning. If your goal is to “look good in a bikini,” ask yourself why that’s important to you.

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For example, “I want to look good in my bikini because I want to have fun on vacation.” Then, ask yourself how much having fun on your vacation depends on how you look in your swimsuit.

5. What Heart-Centered Action Can You Take That Will Help You Reach Your Goal?

Whether your goal remains bikini-focused or changes to ways of having a good time on your vacation, choose an action that you can take that feels like it is coming from a place of love instead of fear.

For example, suggest to your friends that you take scuba diving classes as a group before vacation. It will get you moving and bring your friends together.

Long-Term Happiness and Satisfaction

Fear-based motivation may help you achieve your goals in the short term, but it won’t lead to long-term happiness and satisfaction. Fear isn’t designed to be used for long periods, and you will eventually tire of the fear and give up on your goals. Love, however, is designed for longevity.

Finding your motivation in a place of love will fuel you to reach your goals, whether your goals are about feeling good in a bikini, getting a promotion at work, or speaking up for what you believe in.

More Tips on Boosting Motivation

Featured photo credit: Jeremy Perkins via unsplash.com

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