“The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” ~ Anais Nin
When I was eighteen, I got depressed and stayed depressed for a little over a year. For over a year, every single day was a battle with myself. For over a year, every single day felt heavy and pointless.
I have since made tremendous progress by becoming more self-aware, practicing self-love, and noticing the infinite blessings and possibilities in my life, but I still have days when those familiar old feelings sneak up on me.
I’m not always self-aware, I don’t always love myself, and sometimes I agonize over everything I don’t have or haven’t accomplished.
I call these days “zombie days.” I’ll just completely shut down and desperately look for ways to distract myself from my feelings.
I suspect we all have zombie days from time to time. I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to not always be happy, but there are also simple ways to improve our mood when we’re feeling down.
Everybody is different, and everybody has different ways of dealing with pain, but if you’re looking for suggestions, you may find these helpful:
1. Step back and self-reflect. Whenever I start feeling depressed, I try to stop, reflect, and get to the root of my feelings.
2. Reach out to someone. I used to bottle up my feelings out of fear that I would be judged if I talked about them. I’ve since learned that reaching out to a loving, understanding person is one of the best things I can do.
3. Listen to music. Music can heal, put you in a better mood, make you feel less alone, or take you on a mental journey.
4. Cuddle or play with pets. I have really sweet and happy dogs that are always quick to shower me with love whenever they see me. Spending quality time with a loving pet can instantly make your heart and soul feel better.
5. Go for a walk. Walking always helps me clear my head and shed negative energy. It’s especially therapeutic if you choose to walk at a scenic location.
6. Drink something healthy and reinvigorating. For some reason, orange juice always puts me in a better mood and makes me feel revitalized and serene. There are many health and mood benefits of drinking orange juice and other fruit juices.
7. Write. Writing is usually the first thing I do when I’m feeling down. It always helps me get my thoughts and feelings out in front of me.
8. Take a nap. Sometimes we just need to recharge. I always feel better after getting some rest.
9. Plan a fun activity. Moping around never helps me feel any better, so it usually helps to plan something fun to do if I’m feeling up to it. It can be something as simple as creating my own vision board or something as big as planning a trip.
10. Do something spontaneous. Some of my favorite memories entail choices I made spontaneously. We should all learn to let go of routine every now and then and do something exciting and unplanned.
11. Prioritize. Sometimes I feel depressed when my priorities are out of balance. I try to make sure I’m giving a fair amount of attention to all the priorities in my life, such as work, relationships, health, and personal happiness.
12. Look through old photographs or snap some new ones. Sorting through old memories or capturing new ones usually puts a smile on my face.
13. Hug someone. I am definitely a hugger. Hugs are such an easy way to express love and care without having to say a word.
14. Laugh. Watch a funny movie or spend time with someone who has a good sense of humor. Laughing releases tension and has a natural ability to heal.
15. Cry. I don’t like crying in front of people, but whenever I have an opportunity to slink away and cry by myself, I always feel better afterwards. Crying releases pain.
16. Read back over old emails or text messages, or listen to old voicemails. Whenever I feel dejected or bad about myself, I like to read kind emails and comments from my blog readers or listen to cute voicemails from my grandmother. Doing so reminds me that I’m loved, thought about, and appreciated.
17. Reconnect with someone. Get back in touch with an old friend or a family member that you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Reconnecting with people almost always puts me in a good mood and fills my heart up with love.
18. Write yourself a letter. I try to separate myself from my ego and give myself a pep talk every now and then. Cicero said, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”
19. Try a deep breathing exercise. There are all kinds of deep breathing exercises out there. Find one you like and do it whenever you’re feeling stressed or overly emotional.
20. Cultivate gratitude. Practicing genuine gratitude on a daily basis has been a major source of healing in my life. When I step back and notice everything I have to be grateful for, it makes me feel like I have everything I need and that nothing is lacking. It makes me feel whole.
21. Re-watch a funny or inspiring YouTube video. I recommend Webcam 101 for Seniors. That video cheers me up every time. There are so many funny and inspiring videos online.
22. Bake something. Baking has always been therapeutic and entertaining for me. Plus, I can eat whatever I baked and share it with others afterward.
23. Get out of the house. I work from home, so a large majority of my time is spent indoors, planted in front of my laptop. I have to make a point to get out every now and then, whether it’s to get some fresh air or go out to eat with a friend.
24. Focus on what truly matters to you. Sometimes I forget what matters to me and what isn’t that important. Some things just aren’t worth getting too upset over.
25. Take a negative comment or situation and look for something positive about it. If someone says something negative to me or I get stuck in an unpleasant situation, sometimes it helps to look at it from a different angle. Perspective is everything.
26. Daydream. Take a mental vacation. Let your mind wander for a while.
27. Let some natural sunlight come in. Opening all the blinds and curtains and letting natural sunlight flood your home can help elevate your mood.
28. Take a mental health day. Sometimes we just need to take a day to clear our heads and nurture our souls. My mental health has a history of being a bit erratic, so nurturing it is a priority in my life.
29. Let go. This is a very simple mantra of mine. I usually say it to myself multiple times each day, which has been very liberating and empowering.
30. Read Tiny Buddha. And of course, you can always read Tiny Buddha! I personally love the quotes section. There is a category for almost every universal theme or emotion.