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30 Ways to Improve Your Mood When You’re Feeling Down

“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.

What helps you improve your mood?

Photo by Raelene G

Avatar of Madison Sonnier

About Madison Sonnier

Madison is a freelance writer and lover of animals, music, nature and creativity. You can follow her blog at http://journeyofasoulsearcher.blogspot.com/ and buy her first eBook through Amazon and other retailers. She loves making new friends, so be sure to say hi if you like what you see!

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://www.tootimidandsqueamish.com/ Marcy L

    I find listening to music always lifts my mood. I have even caught myself trying to stay angry when I am pouting about something, but if a good song comes on I can’t help but feel better.

  • http://realtruelove.wordpress.com/ John

    Exercise, play tennis, go for a bike ride, go out in nature and practice photography, play bridge, watch schmoyoho (accent on the yo) on youtube (“day-um,” “double rainbow song,” “can’t hug every cat,” “first debate highlights songified,” “reality hits you hard bro,” “best NASCAR prayer ever!”), watch Flight of the Conchords on youtube (“It’s Business Time,” “Hiphopopotamus v Rhymenoseros,” “Issues [Think About It],” “She’s So Hot, Boom,” “Albi, the Racist Dragon”), the first 20 minutes of Southpark the Movie, some stand-up from Dave Chapelle, Patrice Oneal, or Chris Rock (“Bigger, Badder, Blacker”)

  • http://awarewoolf.tumblr.com/ Awarewolf

    Love love love. Thanks for the list – I naturally do all these things, but sometimes one forgets to take some time to do them in the midst of everyday mayhem. Reading this has reminded me to keep doing what I love, be thankful for what I have and let go of what’s over and done which I cannot change. Thanks again for improving my mood :)

  • lv2terp

    # 3 is my go-to every time! :) What a wonderful list, thank you for sharing so many wonderful ways to re-center! :)

  • Lauren

    “Can’t hug every cat”. . . yes!

  • mcarter3

    #1 way is to cuddle and play with loving pets. Works every time! And appreciate the attention.

  • Limon

    Hi. I wonder if I may translate into spanish this post and share it.

  • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

    Hi Madison, thanks for sharing your story! My most effective way to deal with depression is to take a nap and make sure I’m well-rested. Also, I’ve learned to just be mindful about my feelings – just notice them rather than judge them. This helps immensely!

  • M Sonnier

    Thanks for reading, everyone! :)

    <3 Madison

  • M Sonnier

    Yes! That helps me too. :-)

  • M Sonnier

    Absolutely!

  • http://twitter.com/AuroratheRose Aurora Rose Truth

    Listening to music and cultivating gratitude are my go-to mood enhancers for sure :) Writing keeps me relatively sane ;) and creative, along with daydreaming, and it’s always wonderful to have a good laugh at something silly, or at something in your own life situation if you’re up to it!

  • Andrea

    I’ve found that music and natural light always work for me. I’m from Florida but recently moved north and so I’m still getting used to the dark winters.
    Keep writing please because Tiny Buddha is becoming another source of inspiration. =)

  • The Natural Nutritionist

    Yoga. :)

  • Jeromy O’Brien

    Im in a place were its pretty harsh winters as well, ive invested in a sunlamp which i would recommend to make sure your getting enough sunlight :)

  • Lotus Truong

    My little sis is on the same problem as you were in the past, I print this out and give it to her. You’re uplifting and healing p. I am the one who follow your blog .Lotus Truong. :)

  • geethu

    Can you message me the procedure for joining tne group?? My mail id is geethujose2@gmail.com

  • lejann

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I was feeling very negative and this just made my day and made me happy!! Thank you

  • ogbonna

    am a psyc hologist and all u said proves to be right.thanks 4 ur emotional healing of people

  • Sean

    Hi I had a girl friend for 2 years we was happy and we lived together we was friends 1st then got together and I was happy with that we had a lot of arguments in the 2 years then she’s cheated on me on the 19th of December and I tried to get back with her she’s did want to since then I’ve felt lost and depressed all over this. What should I do ? People say get over it I try every day but I miss the good times

  • http://www.themadcatlady.com/ Barbarella Buchner

    Thanks for sharing this. I just had my best friend tell me she didn´t want to listen to me because apparently that´s all she ever does with everyone, and everyone comes to her with her problems. That made me even more depressed and upset her saying that, and we had an argument and now I have no one at all to talk to. I´m too cowardly for suicide and have have 3 beautiful kitties I love more than life itself, but right now I really feel like ending it all… :(

  • kim

    I hope you feel better. Im 24 and ive live my life for 13 years fighting myself to want to live. My parents died so its only me and it gets to me. I know its hard for you but writing helps or typing. Write a story about your life and what you are going through. It keeps you busy hope u feel better…

  • kim

    Its harder to get over it. You sacrafise two years. You have to remind your self of what she did and how emotionally drain it is for you. How in the back of your head she can do it again. Dont give her a second chance to hurt you. Hang out more keep busy so youll forget of the pain

  • http://www.themadcatlady.com/ Barbarella Buchner

    That was part of the problem though, I couldn´t use my hands much without pain at the time because of a really painful flareup of my rheumatoid arthritis. I wanted to take my ukulele and play. But I couldn´t. I wanted to write/type a story or a song on my guitar, THAT would have made me happy and distract me, but… I couldn´t. Too much pain in my finger joints. There´s not much else I could do except lie on the sofa and watch episodes of my favourite shows that I had downloaded, but that doesn´t really make me happy really.

    Anyways, I made up with my friend and am accepting her just as she is, she works a stressful job in tourism where everybody comes to complain to her all day and she doesn´t want to hear any more complaints, not even from her friends. And I accept that and respect her, because I can understand what it´s like to work a job like that. But at the time I *needed* her and she refused to be there for me, and that hurt even more than the pain in my hands. But we´re cool now.

    Besides, I am a strong person and always manage to pull myself out of the gutter again when I´m down, even though on those horrible days, that seem neverending, when my pain is so bad it makes me not want to live any longer (and even the strongest painkillers don´t help), it´s just so damn difficult.

    I´m glad I came here though, even though it wasn´t much help at the time really. It´s nice that there are oasises of calm and inspiration on the internet like this. :)

  • http://knowonesbeans.com Kenny Burrell

    I want them to know my feeling but I don’t want them to do anything about it … sound impossible

  • 4534534

    useless text

  • Chelsie D Bristol

    This is great, simple ideas that everyone can do with little effort. I have been having some zombie days, and usually very upbeat person. I call them “non” days. Not happy or sad..just non. However, I really enjoyed this article because it’s so human and attainable! I also work from home, so your perspective was great and spot on for me! Thank you :)

  • Anon

    Thank you, this is the first website that has given me good ideas. I’m fourteen and I’m about to see my school psychologist to confirm depression. I’m feeling really nervous about it and I’m about to take these tips which I think will make me feel a lot better. Thank you.

  • http://www.thoughtbrick.com/ Clare

    Thanks for this article — lots of helpful advice

  • nina

    yeah, but what if you have kids and a husband and elderly parents and need to run around and take care of everyone? when you can’t afford to just stay in bed and listen to music!, when you have to get up and go to work and deal with coworkers, when you just don’t want to see anyone and want to be alone?? when you simply feel so down and rejected but still have to be able to function… then what?!

  • cherys

    Lovely ideas. By far the best and most reassuring list I’ve found to get through a few days when I’m feeling down.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Dear Barbarella

    Your Comments alone indicate your shining strength and terrific tenacity!

    Don’t feel alone, sweetie. The WORLD is there with you. Please feel free to Friend me on Facebook. It would give me extreme pleasure to simply hold your hand as a friend.

    Happy Friendship Day #HUGSS

    Much love
    Kit

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Hey Madison

    I enjoyed your tips, but I especially admire your bravado – it takes guts to open up about your depression #HUGSSSSSS

    I am battling an eating disorder and umpteen other psychological ‘woes’ myself, so your story resonated with me.

    And I seem to have the same interests as you too ;)

    Thanks for sharing some simple, yet EFFECTIVE strategies to take control of our melancholy

    Much love
    Kitto

  • Phyllis

    i love all of them. i did a few today. i wrote a letter right now and it really helped soothe my soul. thank you

  • Pradeep

    Good reading. But when I’m depressed at work I cannot remember any of this. When you’ve already given ten fruitful years to an organization, and are now being unduly criticized, pressured and stressed out by an impatient and short-tempered boss over something that is not totally under your control beats all the sense out of any feel-good methods.