Down days are part of every day life. If you’re looking for quick ways to feel better, then try these simple tips that you can do in 30 minutes or less.
One of my favorite line’s from Shakespeare’s Hamlet is “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The line reminds me to try and use perspective when I’m feeling bad about situations, people, or just life in general.
But sometimes you need a little more of a mood boost, which is why I offer up these 10 quick ways to feel better when you’re feeling down. Every one of them takes between 1 minute and 30 minutes to do, so you’re sure to find something you like the sound of that you can try straight away!
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1. Get some exercise
Increasingly evidence is showing that exercise is crucial in maintaining mental health. In fact exercising for 45 minutes to an hour, 3 times a week and getting your heart rate to 50-85% of its maximum, is for some people as effective or even more so than antidepressants.
However we are after a quick fix here, so put your sneakers on and go for a 30 minute walk or run. If you don’t have 30 minutes, then happiness and habits guru Gretchen Rubin is a big fan of 10 jumping jacks, which anyone can pull off in under a minute.
2. Put on your happiness playlist
If you cast your mind back to those teenage years when you lay in your bed in the dark and listened to the Smiths, you’ll know there’s no doubt that music can affect your mood. Fortunately you can reverse that easily enough by listening to music that makes you happy. Maybe you associate it with a particular time of your life, maybe the music itself is upbeat – what’s important is that it makes you feel good.
3. Dance it out
Of course while you’re listening to this music, how about you do a Meredith Grey and dance it out? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ve been a Grey’s Anatomy fan since the show first aired and main character Meredith is legendary for dancing things out with her friends or family when life just gets too much. If you can do this without feeling too silly, jump up and practice those moves from way back when you used to own it on the dance floor.
4. Have sex
There’s not much that having sex with your husband or loved one can’t fix, so if he’s willing and able, then why not retreat to the bedroom? Having sex helps you switch off your mind and it makes you feel great afterwards. What’s more, it helps strengthen the bond between you and your husband as you release oxytocin.
5. Savor the positive memory
Think about a positive memory that you have. It can be a special day or it can even be a seemingly ordinary moment in time. I can still remember one day years ago when I was a single mom, and I had finished teaching for the day. It was a Friday and the children were going to their dad’s that weekend. I had the book I was currently reading in my bag, for some reason that I can’t remember now. I remember sitting at my desk and spending 30 minutes or so simply reading and enjoying the book.
The memory sticks out because I wasn’t going home and getting into the immediate cycle of housework and so on, but rather took the time to do something I enjoyed. When I think about the memory I try to put myself back there- the sense of relaxation, absorption and also freedom. You can do the same thing with photographs. Look at your memories and relive the moment – what you saw, heard, and felt, and hold on to the feelings that creates in you.
6. Release, and set your intention
I learnt this tip recently from Brendon Burchard in his interview with Marie Forleo, and I loved both it and his talk so much I went and bought his book High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way. He talked about how transitions deplete our energy, and suggested a way of moving from one task to another. I think it works equally as well to move from one state of mind to another.
The trick is to sit there and close your eyes, thinking about what you’ve been doing or feeling, and then breathe in and out, thinking the words “release” to yourself. I do this on the exhale.
Then after you have done this two or three times, or even for up to five minutes, think about what you intend to do next and how you intend to be. For example, “when I get up from this couch, I’m going to be the best wife that I can be. I’m going to plug my phone into the charger and then I’m going to ask him about his day, give him my full attention, and focus on the good that is my marriage.” I have been practicing this for a few days and already I notice a difference in my energy and my moods. (If you like the sound of this and want more guidance setting your intentions, check out my happiness hack on this very topic).
7. Write a list of everything that’s wrong
Sometimes life does actually suck, and quite possibly for reasons beyond your control. Take the time to write down everything that is currently going wrong for you. Look at the list. Accept what is on there and how it is making you feel. Highlight the things you could do something about, and highlight in a different color the things that are beyond your control. Ask yourself those questions- will this matter a week from now, a day from now, a year from now, five years from now? This is not to belittle your feelings, but rather to accept that all feelings are valid, and also that all feelings pass.
8. Do something proactive
We often don’t feel good when we feel like we have no control, so the next tip is to seize it back and do something to change the status quo. Now it could be something on the list above that you identified as having control over, or it could be something as simple as making your bed or clearing the kitchen counter. Either way, the point is to stop being passive and / or reactive. Instead get proactive and do something.
9. Cuddle your furbabies
I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again- sometimes you’ve just got to stop and cuddle a puppy. Simply by petting your dog or cat you can release oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that I mentioned above – so if sex isn’t available, this is worth a try. The best thing about pets too is that many have a sixth sense about your mood so will be there, waiting to receive all the cuddles you need to give until you start to feel better.
10. Fake happy
We’ve come a long way in the study of body language since the days when we practiced talking with our palms open in a non-defensive gesture. And as we’ve gained an increased understanding of our holistic nature – meaning that our body and mind are not two separate things – we can leverage this to help us feel better. This is a super long way of saying- smile! Yes, studies have shown that smiling even when you don’t feel like it actually reduces your stress. So turn that frown upside down!
Down days are unfortunately part of every day life. If you’re looking for quick ways to feel better, then try these simple tips that you can do in 30 minutes or less.But before I wrap up, sometimes it’s important not to feel better so much as acknowledge your feelings and take care of yourself. If you’re in that head space, then you might want to check out some of the tips in Simple self-care ideas to rescue a stressful day instead of trying the ideas here.
Do you have any quick fixes for when you’re not feeling the best? Let me know in the comments!