On the broad spectrum of emotions, almost everyone can relate to feeling down at least once in their lives. Gloomy feelings don’t always equate to depression. One may just have low moods due to hearing bad news, feeling alone, or feeling a bit hopeless. And, we all have moments like these, moments where our hope dwindles.
You aren’t a weak person for feeling down from time to time. We have the human experience, after all. However, becoming complacent within those rather “dark” times becomes a habit for some people. This can lead to deeper psychological issues, worries, anxieties, and even depression. The longer you stay feeling down, the deeper you feel you’re in that hole. Fortunately, one very crucial thing to remember is that we all have a choice. We all can control our thoughts and emotions.
Yes, this sounds easier said than done to some. However, each feeling that we experience is one that we allow ourselves to feel. When we become conscientious of this fact, we begin to respond to life’s circumstances instead of reactive. Sometimes, our reactions themselves exacerbate the problem, leaving us feeling even angrier, more saddened, more bitter, and more resentful. If you don’t like feeling down and seek to lift your spirits, you have the power to make a conscious effort to change how you feel. The following methods are just a few ways to redirect that negative energy and even prevent yourself from feeling down.
10 things to do when you’re feeling down
Journal your feelings
People feel heavy and weighed down when their emotions are bottled up. Not being expressive can create tension, animosity, and resentment within your relationships. Journaling is simply the mindful practice of writing down all your thoughts and feelings. This will help you to understand them better and gain control of your emotions. Journaling is a great exercise to destress from the day. If you have no idea where to begin writing, some journals offer prompts for self-discovery, self-reflection, self-love, and even mindfulness journals.
Not every thought or emotion is yours, but feelings projected towards you. When these projections are internalized, we begin to perceive ourselves in that way. Thus, if those around you continuously speak negatively, you will start feeling down. Our subconscious mind acts like a sponge, absorbing all that it hears and sees. Listening to sad music or watching sad movies also contribute to a gloomy mood. So, you must be mindful of what you are giving your attention to.
Put plants in your home
Spruce up your home with vibrant plants. Plants add life to your living space and offer you its sentient company. Not only do indoor plants improve air quality, but plants like lavender and peppermint can provide a soothing aromatherapeutic effect. This increase of oxygen within your home has positive effects such as prolonging attention span, improving mood, relieving stress, and reducing anxiety. Cacti are also good plants to keep and are relatively low maintenance.
Read something inspirational
Our minds are potent mechanisms that can free us or keep us trapped in self-limiting beliefs. Make a conscious effort to read something inspirational. Books that speak on self-improvement, self-love, upliftment, spirituality, and faith are a few good examples of subjects to search for. We even have a meditation book list if you’re unsure where to start. Inspiration doesn’t just come from music or movies. The following are a few good reads to help give you an optimistic perspective on life:
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
The average person has approximately 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. Most of these thoughts are reoccurring stressors, such as daily responsibilities and family obligations. Stress is a common cause of feeling down and gloomy. When our minds aren’t at peace, we feel this dissonance internally. However, mindfulness restores our inner awareness back to what we feel and think. To be mindful of one’s thoughts and feelings is to know what one is feeling/thinking and why. When mindfulness is established, we view our emotions objectively. Understand that feelings and thoughts are temporary. Treat your thought and feelings as visitors that come and go, reserving no judgment towards them. The following is a quick and simple step-by-step guide to mindfulness meditation.
- Find a quiet area to sit or lay down. This will be a place where you won’t be disturbed during your meditation.
- Close your eyes gently, focusing on the blackness underneath your eyelids.
- Begin by taking slow, deep breaths.
- Focus your awareness on each inhalation and exhale.
- Thoughts will naturally surface within your mind. This is normal. Do not judge your thoughts. Simply observe your thoughts objectively and let them go.
- Return your attention back to your breathing.
- Try to do a scan of your body, fixating your awareness on each body part.
- Return your attention back to your breathing.
- Thoughts will continue to surface. However, return your awareness back towards your breathing.
Do this mindfulness meditation exercise for about 15 to 30 minutes or as long as you like.
Dance the gloom away
Sweat it out! Release the stress of the day by dancing it away to your favorite songs. Dancing is an activity anyone can get lost in. Our brains release endorphins, hormones that make us feel happier and more euphoric. You can dance freely on your own or with friends and family. Or, feel free to attend Zumba lessons or check out thousands of dance classes available online. Dancing offers an escape from the hectic hustle of everyday life and helps improve one’s self-confidence.
Socialize with others
When feeling down, the natural inclination may seem to isolate yourself as a defense mechanism. However, this will only amplify the negative feelings and emotions you’re already experiencing. Amazing chemistry has the power to create laughter within very dark, gloomy times. Have you ever walked away from a conversation feeling light as a feather? You said what you needed to say, let out a few tears, laughed a bit, and found resolve. Surround yourself with nonjudgmental friends who allow you to express yourself fully.
Volunteering gives us greater empathy for those around us or even complete strangers. When we volunteer, we can see an aspect of someone else’s life who may not have the same advantages as we do. This makes us more grateful for the things we do have in life. What once was a dread becomes an appreciation. Volunteering takes a person outside of themselves for a moment. People often fixate on the negatives when they are in their heads a lot. This makes their circumstance seem disproportionately worse than it likely is. Make sure you participate in volunteer activities where you feel you can make an impact. By doing this, you won’t continue feeling down but encouraged to keep helping! Here are a few ways you can make a difference in the world:
- Volunteer at the soup kitchen.
- Write handwritten letters to people needing upliftment.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter, playing with, monitoring, and feeding animals.
- Build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
- Lend your company and conversation to hospice patients.
- Tutor young children.
Get some work done
People sometimes begin feeling down as a result of being unproductive. Therefore, it’s in a person’s best interest to make sure they aren’t procrastinating. Procrastinating leads to missing important deadlines, rushing to finish projects, and feelings of unpreparedness. When you are being productive, there is a feeling of accomplishment that also accompanies. This directly correlates to one’s self-efficacy and self-esteem. As you feel more and more confident in your abilities to achieve your set goals, you feel encouraged to do more!
Take it easy on yourself
No one is perfect. So, take it easy on yourself. Each person is in a league of their own when it comes to their progress. If you aren’t making the progress you’d like, don’t internalize this as a failure. Instead, seek out the problem so that an appropriate solution can be made. We are not our experiences but the understanding we have afterward. Once a person understands their own autonomy, they also understand they can create the life they desire. If there is anything in your life you’d like to improve, you are more than capable of doing it.
Feeling down is something that happens to the best of us. However, it’s not about how many times you’ve fallen but your willingness to recover. Not each fall is a failure. Through practicing self-love and setting healthy boundaries, you will feel in control of how you feel. Therefore, instead of being reactive, you’ll notice you take the time to respond mindfully. While we can’t control everything happening around us, we can gain control over how we feel and perceive. This sudden shift in perspective significantly brightens our mood and allows us to cope with matters healthily.