Feeling Down? 39 Ways to Boost Your Mood

Feeling Down? 39 Ways to Boost Your Mood

Our moods are like weather, constantly changing.  When a cloud appears, it’s time to mobilize all your resources to help you get through it.  Whether you feel blue, blah, or just plain gloomy, here are some useful ways to help the cloud pass a little more quickly.

Note:  If your symptoms are extreme enough to affect your daily functioning for two weeks or more, or if you have thoughts of hurting yourself, please see your family doctor or a counselor right away.

  1. Break tasks down into small chunks and feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete one piece before moving on to the next.
  2. Reduce your schedule so you have more time to relax.
  3. Write your feelings down on paper.
  4. Listen to your favorite music.
  5. Take a moment at the end of the day to remember at least one thing you accomplished, even if it is something basic like getting out of bed, and congratulate yourself.
  6. Eat three healthy meals every day.
  7. Minimize your alcohol intake.
  8. Engage in an activity that requires your concentration so you can be present rather than lost in depressing thoughts.
  9. Express yourself with artwork using paint or pastels.
  10. Treat yourself with a great deal of compassion, like you would a young child or your best friend; let go of judging yourself.
  11. Find a balance between keeping yourself busy and letting yourself rest.
  12. Look your best when you walk out the door.
  13. Recognize that you probably are not feeling down 100 percent of the time, and enjoy these reprieves.
  14. Notice if you are telling yourself a story in which you are the star of a sad and hopeless drama.  See how this story doesn’t serve you.  Pull your attention away by doing any of the activities mentioned in this list.
  15. Watch a funny movie.
  16. Do something special for yourself – take a bath, eat a meal of your favorite foods, get a massage.
  17. Talk to a trusted friend about how you are feeling.
  18. See if an endless loop of negative thoughts is playing in your mind about yourself, the world, and the future.  Know that these thoughts are very likely to be distortions of the actual truth.  As Byron Katie suggests, ask yourself, “How would it be if I didn’t think that thought?”
  19. Move your body – exercise, take a yoga class, enjoy a walk in nature.
  20. Be around loving family and friends.
  21. See if there is a problem you can easily solve that would help you to feel better.
  22. Take a shower every day.
  23. Go to sleep at the same time every evening, taking an hour to wind down with a book and some herbal tea before you get into bed.
  24. Find the most loving place within you and extend your love to the part of you that is hurting.
  25. When you notice you are caught in endless TV watching or internet surfing, shift your attention to something more supportive.
  26. Turn your attention inward to realize that there is a part of you that doesn’t feel down.  When you observe yourself feeling blue, take a look at that which is observing.  Where is the gloomy feeling?
  27. Welcome your feelings and accept them as is, rather than fighting them or wallowing in them.
  28. Go inside yourself to find the strength to keep going.
  29. Let go of saying, “I should…” or “I shouldn’t…”
  30. Remember that the feeling will pass – and if it doesn’t seek professional help.
  31. Whatever you feel you lack, offer it out to someone else.  For example, if you feel you lack love, be loving; if you lack friends, be friendly toward others.
  32. Give generously to people in every way you can think of – give a compliment, do something someone you know would appreciate, pick up the check when you are out with friends.
  33. Think of five things you are grateful for every day, and feel the gratitude in every cell of your body.
  34. Plan an enjoyable activity with a friend.
  35. Go outside to let the sunshine in or use a light box.
  36. Smile.  Research shows that when we smile, we eventually begin to feel happier.
  37. Let yourself have the space to cry, then move on.
  38. See if this mood is a tap on the shoulder to get you to notice something about your life.  Is there a gift that is being offered to you?  What can you learn?
  39. Take some slow, deep breaths, letting your whole chest expand as you inhale, then exhaling out whatever you are holding on to that you don’t need.

Any more suggestions to add that might help another reader?  What is your experience of digging yourself out when you are feeling down?

Photo by *Zara

Gail Brenner

Gail Brenner, Ph.D. is a psychologist and author who joyfully shares insights about discovering that suffering is optional. Find more from Gail at her blog, GailBrenner.com and on Twitter. Her work offers a bridge between psychology and spiritual understanding and brings clear seeing and compassion to everyday human challenges. She is the author of the forthcoming book, "The Way of Yes: Finding Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life."

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35 Comments

  1. #4 Listen to your favorite music.
    #31 Whatever you feel you lack, offer it out to someone else. For example, if you feel you lack love, be loving; if you lack friends, be friendly toward others.

    These are the two that I practice on a daily basis to avoid feeling down. Even when I’m on the computer, I open iTunes and blast my computer speakers. A couple of my favorite artists have gotten me through some very tough times in my life.

    I feel that I lack love and friends, so I try to offer love and support via my blog, and I noticed that I’ve begun being friendly toward others. I would not wish the pain I’ve experienced on my worse enemy.

    Thanks for the tips!!

    Reply
    • @Patrice, I love how you are taking such good care of yourself! We all benefit by offering love and support.

      Reply
  2. This is a fantastic list of 39 ways to boost your mood. I also love your blog! Great job!

    Dayne
    TheHappySelf.com :)

    Reply
  3. These are excellet! Every single one. As a former psychologist I will back up that each will work. I’d say to someone down begin with the easiest and proceed from there.

    Reply
    • @Tess The Bold Life, Hi Tess! I think that would be a good plan. Begin simply and with the suggestions that resonate.

      Reply
  4. Hi Gail.

    If I was feeling down right now, this set would be very fitting. It handles a lot of ways to turn the feeling around, and they are not damaging ways.

    Looking your best when you walk out the door is one that is cool because then you go out into the world like a superstar instead of a confused individual.

    A shower certainly does a lot for good feeling, as it makes you feel like the day is set right again, and is of the way we would want to see. It is good for body temperature and can take us away from a bad habit or routine long enough to distance from it.

    The bad feeling sure will pass, and then it will have been a quick time that we forget about.

    Great solution-type set here.

    Reply
    • @Armen Shirvanian, Hi again, Armen! As you say, it often takes some simple actions to start feeling better. I imagine you walk out the door as a superstar every day!!

      Reply
  5. Hello! This is a very nice list you provided on how to gain a better mood.

    Number 4 always does it for me – listening to the music (usually upbeat for a better mood) helps me focus my mind away from stress and worries and gets me back on track.

    Thanks for this!

    Reply
  6. What a beautiful post, filled with kindness directed at self. Inspiring and lovely. Thank you for sharing it.
    Cheers,
    Miche :)

    Reply
    • @Miche – Serenity Hacker, The best thing we can do for ourselves when feeling down is treat ourselves very kindly. Thanks for mentioning that.

      Reply
  7. very nice list Gail :)

    Reply
  8. I love the advice to treat yourself with a great deal of compassion. I think we are hardest on ourselves. This list is really great. Of course, one of my favorites on the list is ‘listen to your favorite music.’ I find this is a huge mood changer.

    Reply
    • @Kim – self improvement and motivation, Thanks so much for your comment, Kim. I find it really interesting that several people mentioned listening to music as a mood changer.

      For many of us who are hard on ourselves, we would never treat others the way we treat ourselves. Definitely something for us all to pay attention to…

      Reply
  9. One of my favorite activities is making a gratitude list. You can either write down your list, or go for a walk and just list things out loud (or in your head) of things that you’re grateful for.
    Just stopping to be thankful for things most of us take for granted like clean running water, fresh air, freedom, and shelter can be enough to shift my mood into something more positive.

    Reply
    • @Colin, I agree, Colin. It’s a simple exercise that really works! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  10. The best way to boost your way is to want to boost your mood. If you want, you usually find the right tool to do that. I usually listen to some music, read a book or exercise my body (I really like the feeling of being really exhausted). The most important way for me is changing attitude, if that happens, all others will happen.

    Best wishes,
    Zoli

    Reply
    • @Zoli Cserei, Thanks so much for your comment, Zoli. I completely agree – the precursor to any successful change is to want to change. Sometimes we just want to wallow. OK for a while, then maybe it’s time to figure out a different way. The more people want to improve, reach their goals, whatever, the more likely they will. The desire to change has to be stronger than the desire to stay the same.

      Reply
  11. Nice, but somewhere you have to fix the problem not always cover it up. You can’t always masquerade a chronic issue.

    Reply
    • @pjnoir, Sorry for the delay, pjnoir, just saw your comment and wanted to get back to you. You are absolutely right that the source of the problem needs to be addressed. Most of the things I suggest on this list might help temporarily. However, it is wise to directly investigate the thoughts that are causing the sad feelings to see if they accurately reflect reality. When people are depressed, they tend to have a negative view of themselves, other people, and the world. They repeat these negative stories over in their minds – no wonder they are depressed. When these thoughts, and the related feelings, are seen in the light of the truth, they begin to soften and lose their power. This is a process, and sometimes people need professional support to help them along the way. It IS possible to feel better with this approach.

      Reply
  12. Wow, awesome list. So inspiring and motivating.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • @Arswino @ Inspirational Quotes, My pleasure, Arswino. I’m glad you found it helpful.

      Reply
  13. This is great Gail. I love the part about listening to music, I’ve found that to be helpful. With regards to “Minimize your alcohol intake.” – I know some college students who would have a little trouble with that one heh heh :)

    Reply
  14. Nice list.
    I would also recommend posting your issue to a website like answers.yahoo.com or http://www.kissmybooboo.net if you want to stay anonymous, instead of talking to a friend

    Reply
  15. #4 is my favourite, like Tristan Lee. I love to put on really energetic music. It will often lift my mood.

    @Zoli and Gail, I totally agree about wanting to lift your mood. Sometimes it is OK to want to feel down for a bit, but when you have been down for a bit and don’t want to get out of the mood, that is when you should seek help from others. If you have found this post, then I salute you, because you want to cheer up!

    Thank you Gail

    Reply
  16. I love how you have put together this article.i feel better after reading it and intend on taking the right steps to being happy.

    Reply
  17. really awesome tips

    Reply
  18. Great suggestions from people on here, so glad I found it. I have a parent with Alzheimer’s and feel down about all the issues surrounding this. Any suggestions on how to deal with these feelings would be gratefully received.

    Reply

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