If you’re not feeling great lately, don’t worry. All of us feel down from time to time, so remember that this too shall pass.
While you’re feeling down, try to remember that even though what’s getting you down might be outside of your control, there are still things you can do in your day-to-day life to help cheer yourself up.
Sure, they may not fix all your problems, but some of the advice below may help you get into a better mindset or give you enough time to rest and not worry so that you’re better prepared to deal with whatever’s bothering you later. Continue reading to learn more about how to cheer yourself up.
Effective ways to cheer yourself up
1. Treat yourself
Discipline is an important part of living a healthy and happy life, and that requires some self-control and foregoing the immediate gratification, the quick fix. However, you’re human, and you’re entitled to treat yourself often.
Give yourself a break from the melancholy and indulge yourself in your favorite show, eat your favorite food, and get yourself comfortable. Treating yourself won’t fix all your problems and should not be misused as a means of escape, but if you’re dealing with something heavy or upsetting, then taking a little break to enjoy yourself is more than worth it.
Just remember to be cautious of indulging in unhealthy habits. Sometimes when things are stressful or disheartening, we feel compelled to escape or mask the associated difficult emotions.
Some people tend towards immediate relief through unhealthy behaviors such as excess spending, isolation, binge eating, or substance misuse (including alcohol and tobacco).
So, be mindful of how you treat yourself because the way you choose to do it will influence how long you’ll feel down and how easy it will be to eventually feel back to normal.
Ten to fifteen minutes of even light physical activity has a profound positive impact on your mood. If you’re feeling stuck and down at work, you may not be able to get up from your desk and do jumping jacks for fifteen minutes, but there’s likely at least some time available to get some light exercise in.
If you have an hour lunch break, could you take a walk for fifteen? Walking counts as light exercise, so does dancing, jogging, and stretching.
Can you spare fifteen minutes of your lunch break, or after you clock out, or before you take on your post-work responsibilities, to loosen up your body and get active with time you might have otherwise spent looking at your phone?
Research has consistently proven the exercise is strongly associated with an improved and increased sense of well-being. That’s true in both the short and long-term. But why does exercise have such a positive impact on how we feel?
Studies highlight that regular aerobic exercise elicits the release of endorphins – feel-good neurotransmitters – that gives us an immediate mood boost. These are the brain chemicals that are responsible for the ‘runner’s high.’
3. Check your posture
This one sounds almost too simple to be effective, but it really is effective! Throughout the day, our spine comes under pressure simply by going about our business.
Add to that the amount of time we spend staring down at our phones, hunched over a laptop, or the hours of sitting at our desk at work or in school, and our posture suffers.
You can give yourself a mood and energy boost in just a couple of minutes by stretching your body, aligning your spine, and fixing your posture. Research proves that good posture reduces stress – it opens a broader pathway for air to move in and out of the lungs, leading to more oxygen intake and healthier lung and brain function.
One study found that out of two groups, one of which walked with good posture and the other of which slouched, the former self-reported more positive experiences of the study.
Meditation offers immediate stress relief. The goal of mediation is no goal at all – it’s less about doing something and more about simply being. Still, as a by-product of letting go of the rush and urgency to do things, to problem solve, to get things done, we give the mind and body a chance to rest and recuperate from the stress of a given day.
Even just a few minutes of mediation a day can have a significantly positive impact on your mood and well-being.
5. Get out in nature
Some fresh air may be just what you need. Lots of things can put us in a bad mood, such as relationship difficulties, stress at work, even our own negative self-talk. Getting out in nature is a great way to counter a bad mood and replace it with positive emotions and a sense of well-being.
This simple but effective pick-me-up almost sounds too good to be true, but there is strong research to support the fact that getting out in nature even for 30 minutes makes you feel a lot better.
6. Listen to music
Music has a profound on the brain and the nervous system. Research shows that many types of music can make us feel better when we’re down. Even sad music can be uplifting. Classical music has been proven to elicit feelings of calm and relaxation.
Music is one of the oldest art forms known to man and is used cross-culturally as a means of social bonding, healing, and celebration.
6. Hang out with a friend
If you’re feeling stressed, worried, or just a bit lost and fed up, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted friend to hang out or chat on the phone.
Often when life gets stressful, we tend to push ourselves beyond our natural capacity to be healthy and productive, sacrificing our emotional health and well-being for greater productivity and managing responsibilities.
Talking to a trusted friend can help you vent your feelings to a compassionate ear, ultimately helping you feel heard and acknowledged. Further, fostering and maintaining social bonds is good for our overall health. So, put away the cell phone for a bit and immerse yourself in the company of a close friend.
8. Get creative
You can achieve a profound improvement in your mood and sense of well-being by expressing yourself creatively – painting, sketching, writing, playing music, or any form of creative expression you enjoy.
Research supports the claim that creative expression improves your mood, such as this study published in the American Journal of Public Health and another study published in PLoS One, but don’t just take their word for it. Experience it for yourself.
You might be hesitant to get started on something creative because you doubt your artistic talents and creative abilities. Understand that you don’t need to be a master to get started. You don’t even need to be good. As long as you express yourself honestly and authentically, the final outcome doesn’t matter. What’s more important and most beneficial is the expressive process.
Do you journal? If not, now is a great time to start. Journaling is the act of writing about our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they relate to our experiences, and it’s a great way to get stuck feelings out of the mud and onto paper.
There is a profound sense of relief and lightness that follows putting our thoughts onto paper. Doing so helps us look at them objectively, acknowledge them, and shift our perspective away from one of struggle and suffering and towards that of a compassionate witness.
Get yourself comfy at home or head out to your favorite coffee shop with a notebook (or a digital device if you prefer) and just start writing. Many people are reluctant to journal because they feel like they don’t know what to write about or think that it won’t be very good. It doesn’t have to be good! There need not be any judgment or critique about your writing ability.
Journaling is for nobody but yourself. It’s a healthy outlet, and there are no rights or wrongs. The main goal is, to be honest with yourself – to put your genuine, authentic thoughts and feelings onto the page.
It sounds too simple to be true, but there are profound healing and mood-boosting properties to having a good laugh. If you’re feeling down lately, reach out to a friend and have a laugh over something, anything. Alternatively, switch on your favorite stand-up comedian, comedy film, or tv show, or pick up a funny book and immerse yourself in it.
11. Have a cuddle
Grab a loved one – a partner, a friend, a sibling, a parent, a pet! Hugging is a great way to cheer yourself up. As human beings, we’re programmed to reap benefits from physical touch.
Hugging someone even for 30 seconds can lift your mood by eliciting a release of oxytocin in the brain, one of the brain’s feel-good chemicals. Oxytocin is associated with strong social bonding and helps us feel emotionally connected to others.
If you’re a man, hugging your friends might not be your go-to pick-me-up. Still, it’s worth a try. Many men, unfortunately, feel reluctant to be physically close to anyone other than a romantic partner, but you don’t have to allow this conditioning to continue.
Find a friend or sibling who understands that there’s nothing wrong with a hug and share this healing, bonding experience.
12. Hang out with an animal
Got a pet? If not, do you know someone who’d let you hang out with their pet for a while? Spending time with a friendly pet like a dog or cat can be a real mood-booster. Ask any pet owner, and they’ll tell you how much love and joy they feel for their pet.
Several studies point to the physical and mental health benefits of having pets or simply spending time with animals, including:
- reduced likelihood of depression
- reduced risk of heart disease
- reduced stress, tension, and blood pressure
- boosted levels of dopamine and serotonin
13. Cultivate gratitude
There are so many things in life that are outside of our control. Sometimes we just can’t seem to catch a break – we get extra responsibilities at work, our family or dependents need financial support, or our physical health takes a hit. We can’t manage every aspect of life, and it’s important to know when to surrender control.
Still, we can control some things. We can control how we respond to life, and then things happen to us. One way we can control our experiences in life is to practice and cultivate gratitude. Gratitude is a feeling of thanks and appreciation for things and people in our lives. According to extensive research, gratitude not only improves mood but also significantly increases life satisfaction. So, when you’re feeling blue, pay attention to even the little things that make you feel happy and try to be glad that you get to experience them.
Quick pick me up’s may not solve your biggest, deepest problems, and seeking immediate relief is not the same thing as addressing your issue. Still, the tips above can offer some much-needed relief from the stress of daily life. They can give you some emotional breathing space to let go of whatever’s getting you down and give a little boost in mood, which can have a positive knock-on effect for your entire day.
Some of the advice above, such as cultivating gratitude, journaling, mediation, and exercise, offer not only short-term relief but also offer long-term benefits when practiced conscientiously and consistently.