Even if you're living your best life, bad days are likely to happen. Some days we cry. Some days we get frustrated. Some days, we feel stressed and overwhelmed. As much as we might like to live in a bubble of happiness, challenges drag us down from time to time.
When these trying times occur, it can be helpful to learn how to make yourself feel better in the moment. Coping strategies boost self-knowledge and provide you tools to manage when you're feeling low. The next time you're having a rough day, consider one of these strategies for support.
How to Make Yourself Feel Better
When we receive upsetting news, when we are navigating through grief, or when we experience one of life's many challenges, we often just want to feel a sense of relief. How can I feel better right now? What will make these negative feelings go away?
We all experience hard times that make us wish we had something, anything, that could help us to simply get through the moment. These strategies attempt to shift your focus and improve awareness to help yourself find comfort.
Check-in With Yourself
Try to gauge how you're feeling in the moment. Are you stressed, sad, anxious, or just "off" for one reason or another? Try to identify your emotions as specifically as possible. After you have a better idea about how you're feeling, you can take steps to help yourself feel better by asking the two questions below.
1. What do I need at the present moment?
2. What are some things I want that might help me feel better right now?
Try to list several options for each question. Then, once you've identified your needs, see which items are achievable. Some needs might be simple, like taking a short break from an activity that is causing stress or discomfort. Some needs may be more complex, like asking for help. Taking small steps to address your needs may give you a sense of accomplishment and direction that can provide some level of relief.
Engage in Self-Care
Self-care is an important part of maintaining your overall well-being. Practicing self-care means tending to your mental, physical, and emotional needs. Explore the lists below for some easy ways to care for of all aspects of your well-being.
- Focus on your breath as you breathe in and out.
- Give yourself permission to do nothing.
- Grab some paper and write out your frustrations.
- Monitor and challenge your thoughts.
- Take a break from work for 15 minutes.
- Drink a glass of water (or two) to rehydrate, especially if you've been crying.
- Eat something, even if it's small, especially if you haven't eaten much throughout the day.
- Take a short nap.
- Go for a walk.
- Run a bath and allow yourself to soak.
- Stretch for five minutes.
- Ask for help if you need it, and then allow others to show up for you.
- Call a loved one to vent and share your feelings.
- Journal about your feelings and remind yourself of your strengths.
- Schedule some social time with friends or family so that you have something to look forward to.
- Shift your focus to the positive by repeating self-affirming mantras out loud or in your head.
Shift Your Attention
When we dwell on negative thoughts or engage in repetitive thinking, it's called rumination. Rumination and worry can prolong feelings of sadness and contribute to mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
You can reduce rumination if you shift your attention to a neutral or enjoyable activity. By doing so, you disrupt your negative thought pattern and give yourself a mental break from negativity.
Some ways to shift your attention include:
- Complete that one activity you've been putting off until the end of the day
- Do jumping jacks (or any exhilarating activity) for 2-3 minutes
- Grab a bite to eat
- Have a conversation with someone around you
- Organize your space, your schedule, or another aspect of your daily life.
- Start a different activity listed in your schedule
Any activity that you do that takes your mind away from the negative thoughts is a way of shifting your attention. This can be anything from doing a load of laundry to finishing up a project at work. Find an activity that promotes positivity but will still give you a sense of accomplishment when it is complete.
Never underestimate the power of social connection. But when we face challenge, we often isolate ourselves. No matter what you're experiencing, it can be helpful to surround yourself with support, kindness, and love.
Sharing your challenge with others might be uncomfortable. But sometimes getting it out in the open provides relief. When you're ready, reach out to loved ones and allow them to support you.
Alternatively, if you feel that sharing your challenge with others is beyond your reach right now, simply connect with others to benefit from the sense of community and belongingness that it can provide.
Some ways you can connect are:
- Ask to meet up with a friend later in the day
- Call a family member on the phone
- Reconnect with someone on social media
- Send a loved one a text message
- Join a forum or chat group that shares your interests or challenges
- Send a letter or a card to a loved one
You don't have to tell your loved ones why you're upset or even reveal how you're feeling if you don't want to. Just allow yourself to experience their company.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on one thing at a time. This can be your breath, a mantra, or even your body. Mindfulness and physical activity can be combined to create what is known as mindful movement techniques. Not only can these strategies help you connect with your mind and body, but they can also boost your mood.
When you're feeling low, you might not want to hit the gym or go for a run, and that's completely understandable. Instead, try one of these mindfulness practices that can help you show your body some love in a gentle way that doesn't feel like you have to overcome a huge hurdle to participate. In fact, all of the mindful movements below can be done from the comfort of your own bedroom (or even your bed).
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's always a good idea to do something you know you enjoy when you're feeling sad. A simple, short-term, enjoyable activity can help elevate your mood or at least provide you with a brief respite from negativity.
What hobbies do you enjoy? Do you have any comfort foods? Do you have a go-to movie that always makes you feel good? Try out some of these activities and notice the shift in your mood.
Some more easy, fun, and relaxing activities you can do are:
- Change into a comfortable outfit
- Cuddle with your favorite four-legged friend
- Engage in a playful activity, like painting, watching a silly video, blowing bubbles
- Get cozy under a warm or weighted blanket
- Give someone a hug (or ask someone for one)
- Light a candle with your favorite fragrance
- Make a cup of calming tea
- Play a song that lifts you up
- Sit in your favorite room or spot in your house
Remind Yourself That Bad Days are Temporary
Down days are bound to happen, and it's okay. You don't have to push those negative feelings aside. Allow yourself to experience them when you're ready, and then do your best to engage in as many activities as you need to help lift you up. Remember to be gentle with yourself on the rough days. It takes some effort to heal and move on, but trust that you'll find the sense of relief you need to help you through it.