10 Things To Do When You're Feeling Down
Life is just really hard sometimes, isn't it?
Maybe you've been tired for as far back as you can remember, feeling like you've been chasing kids, your career, or yourself in an endless cycle. Maybe you're mourning a loss, or struggling with a difficult life problem. Or, maybe it's something not so massive, but it's the little things. Such as spilling your coffee all over yourself, losing your car keys, forgetting to pay a bill or incorrectly executing a work task [all things I've done more than once within the past month].
Whatever "it" is - life is hard and things are not always peachy. It's easy to lose sight of a big picture. Even more specifically, the emotions associated with annoyances, disappoints and sadness can drain you with vampiric intensity!
Something that causes a lot of my personal negativity is my serious desire for perfection. My mind tells me that everything I touch, attempt or care about has to be PERFECT. It's a crucial flaw, because as we all know, nothing and no one is perfect. Yes, it's about control, but more specifically it's about emotions. I absorb other's feelings very easily and I am so affected by the moods of others. If I can make things "perfect", somehow, we can all feel happy and everyone wins. It does make me an empathetic, loving person - yet it also causes a lot of consternation, disappointments and subsequent sadness.
I share this about myself to make the connection that we all have our "down" moments. And even though my bad times, moods and days might materialize differently than yours, it happens to us all. We are all susceptible to outside influences. We all cannot maintain happiness every moment.
There's going to be those days or weeks when we all will need a pick-me up. Some self-care. Something small that is going to boost our spirits, act as an escape, and fill our empty spaces with joy - especially when going to bed and waiting for a new day to start over is not an option.
So if you're feeling worried, depressive or just simply have had a bad day, know you are not alone and I feel you. Here are a few things that I do whenever I get down in the dumps!
Walk in the Sunshine
Light is scientifically proven to have a huge impact on your mood and state of mind. A low level of light creates abnormally low serotonin levels, which are associated with depression. The presence of sunlight, even in a room, can have other health benefits such as skin healing and bone development.
If none of that science really speaks to you, at least remember how it felt to play outside on a nice day as a child. Chances are, your "give-a-care" level was much, much lower!
When I've had a long day, I come home and take my furbaby outside and let her run around, while I take off my shoes and walk in the backyard, looking out towards the field behind our house. I love to feel the cool grass underneath my feet and the wind in my hair, just basking for a few minutes in the sun. It's so inspiring to me. I think about how thankful that I am, that God put me in the place to enjoy such pleasures. It's infinitely relaxing!
Enjoy a Warm Cup of Coffee
Having a cup of dark roast coffee sweetened with sugar free italian creme creamer is one of the favorite parts of my day! It's like an instant smile in a cup.
The word "enjoy" implies just that - it's imperative to take your time! Don't gulp, and don't even think about sipping over a work task. Find a comfy seat, indoor or outdoors, and take a moment to be still and be thoughtful.
If you don't like coffee, find another drink that you can sip and enjoy!
Cuddle With a Furbaby
My three year old dachshund, Penelope, brings so much happiness to my life. Yes, sometimes she's a chore. But she's also loyal, entertaining, sweet, and oh so cute! She's always super happy to see me, and she knows how to cheer me up, no matter the challenges of the day. It's just an amazing feeling to know that something can love you so unconditionally.
When I'm particularly sad or tired, she can sense it. She will come to cuddle up with me, or try incessantly to kiss my face. Her presence has a soothing, calming effect on me, one that I would not trade for a million dollars!
If you don't have a pet, you need one!
Enjoy Some Uplifting Music
Music is a magic drug that can cure almost anything, I am a firm believer in that! Music is very personal to me. I often enjoy drowning myself in sad, heartfelt songs [as weird as it sounds], but obviously that isn't going to do anything to reverse a sad or bad mood.
So, when I make that choice to go against my first instinct of melancholy, it can pay off. I either turn up some Bruno Mars or Toby Mac and dance it out, or I put on some worship music [usually K-Love on the kitchen radio] and get my heart focused on some worship. Either way I decide to go, the music gets my mind off my troubles, if only for a few minutes. Perhaps it could work for you also!
I will be the first to say that when my mood is particularly bad, I can become drama llama very quickly. We get so easily tangled up in our minds, over the magnitude of our problems and their associated pessimism, that we end up building more problems on the inside and not even considering the solutions.
I would suggest writing down exactly what's bothering you, in bullet form. Quantifying what went wrong during the day, or what you're worried about for the future, really puts your circumstances into perspective. You are allowing yourself to visually reflect on them. It can help you to gain control of repeat thoughts and work through each dilemma individually, instead of letting problems build upon problems.
Create a Journal
This is really just a more expansive version of #5. Instead of writing down your problems in list form and moving on, keep a feelings journal. Write down the events of the day, but include your feelings and attitudes towards them. You can do this in a notebook, or type it on a basic word document on the computer. Empty your mind of all the feelings that have built up.
Always end a journal entry - no matter how short - with a list of things you are thankful for. Even in the bleakest of moments, there is no doubt a laundry list of blessings that you have not taken the time to reflect on. Quantifying the positives and reflecting on them can be just as productive as quantifying the negatives.
A prayer journal is also a great option. God always wants to know what is on your heart, but sometimes it's really hard to pray out loud for needs, problems and concerns if you feel depressed, especially if you are in the position where you feel worthless. Taking the time to have a safe place to pour out your heart can be both rewarding and freeing.
Do Something For Someone Else
This one can be really hard to get on board with, because you might feel like that you can't possibly help someone if you can't help yourself! But hear me out.
It's ok sometimes to care only about yourself, to feel your own feelings and to wallow in whatever you need to. However, if you make the effort to step outside of yourself and your current situation, you can gain a new outlook and snap out of the funk. Serving someone else boosts our self worth, always has a positive outcome because you're truly making a difference, and it can help you feel much less alone.
Serving someone else could be as easy as writing a message to a friend, expressing how much you love them. Or visiting a grandparent, cooking something for someone who is sick, or sending flowers to someone you know that needs them. Even the little things can be big things sometimes.
My Mama taught me this one. It has made a major difference in my life!
Plan Something Fun
One of the greatest coping skills for dealing with a present negative is to create a future positive. If you have something to look forward to, it can give you the motivation to keep moving forward towards that positivity.
Don't make yourself embrace a chore, schedule something fun! Plan a day trip, a full vacay, a drive to a local park. Any activity that evokes happiness, and preferably adds some pizazz to your life. Make it something that will create a sense of hopefulness, which can make the day's worries seem far away!
Learn Something New
This can be a major distraction and a self-confidence booster! These are two things you are probably craving if you are caught in a bad place, whether you realize it or not.
Ideas include for implementing something new could include the following: learn a new language using an app [try Duolingo], cook a new recipe, teach yourself how to edit photos in Adobe Photoshop, refinish furniture, clean your home appliances [it's like its own art], take an online short course in a favorite subject, plant some vegetables, paint your first abstract art, study your Bible and find stories you've never heard before. This list can go on, and on, and on......
You could make wreaths, like I did above! :)
How, may you ask, do I just do these things? You have a whole world at your fingertips via the Internet! Even if you don't feel like going out of your house, you can learn anything with just a simple search of Pinterest or YouTube. There are so many things - FREE things - that you can tackle, no matter what level of intellectualism you believe you are on. If I can figure out how to set up a blog, you can do anything. No excuses!
I'm not sure if this is always good advice, as there are a lot of caveats - but retail therapy can work wonders! It's been talked about in movies and books for ages.
I really think retail therapy is so effective because it focuses solely on you - your wants, your desires. This line of thinking can be selfish, non-productive, and even destructive in frequent, big doses. But in small doses ... being a little selfish in this safe manner may be just the thing you need to remind yourself that what you want is within reach [metaphorically speaking, too!].
But just because I have to say it, remember that material objects are not the answer. And while some of these other methods may give you a mood boost for a while, accumulating things is not a healthy replacement for dealing with problems!
The running theme of this whole piece of advice is this word: perspective. What really matters to you? Are these things really going to matter this time next year? What do you want your life's theme to be?
What view are you choosing to look at it - the fire below, or the sky above?
There's nothing that used to make me more upset than when people would tell me that I needed to "put things in perspective", but really - they were right. Dealing with problems, bad days and dreary feelings is crucial, but letting them hold me captive is just not necessary when life has so much cheer to offer!
What is your favorite thing to do when you're down? Share with us below!