If you’ve been feeling down lately, you may be in need of some self-care.
What is self-care? I define self-care as any healthy, loving activity offered to yourself in order to allow your body and mind to reset and recharge.
This article is a collection of 32 self care strategies that you can use whenever you feel down.
In addition to helping you cheer up and fixing your low mood these self care strategies will allow you to connect with your feelings and recharge your energy for a greater sense of acceptance and peace.
1. Take a walk in nature
To me, nature is an instant mood booster. Even if you can’t head to the nearest hiking trail, taking a walk around the neighborhood works fine, as well.
Breathe in the fresh air and feel the earth under your feet, forever supporting your every step. Sitting near a body of water or watching the sunrise or sunset can also be really uplifting.
Take this time to be at ease and relax into your feelings (more on this in the next step).
2. Sit with your feelings
This is the easiest, yet also the hardest coping strategy. All you have to do is sit there and remove yourself from all distractions.
You’re basically meditating – but it can be counterproductive to call it that, because when you’re “trying” to meditate “right”, you can produce a mental distraction from what’s present.
So, just sit there and feel the energy in your body. You don’t have to try to do this. Whatever you allow yourself to feel, you allow yourself to release.
Additionally, when you sit with your feelings, you learn not to fear them.
3. Practice yin yoga
Yin is a slower, gentler style of yoga which has you hold a stretch for several minutes at a time. This is my favorite style of yoga, due to its powerful relaxation effects. Some feel a natural “high” after practicing yin.
It’s perfect for tuning into your breath and sitting with your feelings, as well as releasing tension and energy stuck in the body.
Try the following 30-minute practice by Yoga With Adriene. You don’t need any props but a blanket and pillow, and no yoga experience is necessary.
4. Watch these YouTubers
These people are not only YouTubers; they’re motivational speakers, teachers, and healers. Depending on your beliefs, you may prefer some of them more than others, so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.
Here’s one of my all time favorite video to watch whenever I am feeling down:
5. Journal what’s on your mind
Even if you don’t own a journal, get out a piece of paper or open a Word document, and just start writing. Write about anything and everything without filtering yourself. No one’s going to read it. Just get it all down. When you are done, you will feel a lot more relaxed.
6. Make a gratitude list
This one might sound cheesy or cliche, but like anything else on this list, you just have to try it for yourself. At the least, it’ll begin to get the happy chemicals flowing, and shift you a notch towards a mindset of abundance, as opposed to scarcity.
Try writing down everything that’s going right in your life, even if it’s the smallest thing like the breakfast you ate.
7. Write a love letter to yourself
Seriously. It sounds ridiculous and maybe even cringey to make yourself do this, but it could work wonders for you. This of course works especially for those who struggle with insecurity and low self-esteem.
There’s no rules or guidelines for doing this, but it helps to offer yourself compassion for whatever you’re feeling presently.
Try to say whatever you’d say to your own child. For example: “Sweetheart, I understand. It’s okay. I’m here for you whenever you’re feeling sad.”
It’ll feel especially strange if you’re not used to or comfortable with hearing these statements from others, but that’s a good sign that you can benefit from this exercise.
Remember, you always need more love, not less.
8. Talk to someone
Yes, this one sounds particularly obvious, maybe so obvious that we tend to overlook it. We tell ourselves to be strong. We remind ourselves that everyone else has problems, too. We are terrified of burdening anyone.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather listen to a loved one’s problems for hours, than unknowingly have them suffer silently in pain. So, tell someone whom you trust how you’re feeling. It may be scary, but you’ll surely feel better once you realize how supported you are, and once you don’t have to pretend to be “fine” around them.
Our greatest pain often comes from hiding how we really feel.
9. Sing and Dance
When you were a kid you sang and danced around not because you were the next big thing, but because it made you happy. As adults we sometimes forget how much fun such a simple thing can be.
Whenever you are feeling down, put on some favorite tunes and sing and dance around till your heart’s content. This works best for most people if you can find some private space to really let go without feeling self conscious.
Here’s a tip: closing your eyes while dancing can be really helpful. You feel the music more and allow it to permeate your being, making your body move naturally to the rhythm.
10. Watch a Favorite Movie
Sometimes just tuning out of the world and losing yourself in another can be all you need to snap out of the doldrums. Pop in a favorite movie (or show) and then sit back and enjoy.
If your favorite movie is a serious drama, you might want to pick a more lighthearted variety to watch. Watch something that has a happy ending. Alternatively a good book can also do wonders for improving your mood.
11. Engage in a Hobby
Hobbies are something you choose to do because you enjoy them. This makes them great mood enhancers when you’re feeling less than chipper. If you can think of a way to share your hobby with others, that can improve your outlook even more.
Maybe your hobby is baking. Share your baked goods with friends or neighbors to bring a smile to their face as well as yours. It will make the euphoric feelings last longer.
Many people approach exercise like a chore no one wants to do but they know they should. While it can be difficult to get going, you always feel better after a good workout, because, to quote Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
Your choice of exercise could be anything from a brisk walk around the block, lifting weights, hula hooping or even just playing with your kids at the park. Here are 23 fun ways you can exercise.
Most of us have piles that we keep meaning to go through or places we really need to clean but never do. While cleaning is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re down, it can make you feel better.
Often our unhappiness is exacerbated by the clutter and mess in our homes. It makes life feel more suffocating and uncontrollable, but when you clean out some of that clutter you regain a feeling of control, which can really cheer you up.
I also have noticed it’s a lot easier to stay happier since I started keeping my room clean and decorating it, it’s just a more cheerful place now.
14. Make a happiness jar
Write down all the good things that have ever happened to you in bits of paper, fold them up and put them in a jar. You can also add jokes that you find funny, funny moments in your life, favorite things to do, the best things about you, the things you look forward to, things you enjoy doing, etc. This is your happiness jar.
While writing these in itself can be therapeutic, you can always go to the jar and read out of it whenever you need an instant boost of positive energy.
If not a jar, you can also do the same with a self care journal.
It doesn’t matter if you are good at it or not. There is nothing that is more uplifting than letting your creativity flow on a piece of canvas.
You can also consider using a coloring book or even try coloring on your phone or tablet using a coloring app.
16. Listen to music that triggers happy memories
Music has the power to triggers old memories. Make a playlist of all the songs that are associated with happy events in your life. Listening to these songs will instantly change your focus and transport you back in time and space to a happy place.
17. Cheer someone else up
One of the easiest way to forget your blues is to do something nice for someone else. Making someone else happy be it your friend, a family member or sometimes even a complete stranger can give you that uplifting feeling and help you cheer up.
18. Read old journal entries
Just like listening to music, reading old journal entries will help transport you to happy thoughts of the past. You can make this even more powerful by reading an entry and listening to music associated with that entry.
If you don’t have a journal, looking at past pictures/images associated with happy events can help too.
19. Look at the stars
Looking at the night star is relaxing as it gives you a different perspective of things. You feel comfortable knowing that how infinitely big the universe is in comparison to our problems and that certainly helps put things into perspective.
20. Go for an aimless drive
Hop in your car and go for a long aimless drive preferably to a location with less traffic and lots of greenery. Listen to music or an uplifting podcast while looking out at the scenery can be very therapeutic.
21. Do Legs-up-the-wall yoga (Viparita Karani)
We discussed yin yoga earlier but if you are looking for something simpler do the ‘Legs up the wall’ yoga instead.
This yoga pose is deeply restorative and will elevate your mood. Simply lie down on the floor while propping your legs up against the wall for 10 to 15 minutes. You can do this multiple times a day or whenever you want to relax.
Here’s a good video that explains how to do the pose:
22. Read a good book
Just like watching a movie, reading a good book can help you tune out of your world and enter another.
A good option is to go to a nearby library. The calm setting of a library will help relax and you just might discover an amazing book that will change your entire perspective of life.
23. Spend time with a pet
There is nothing that is more relaxing and uplifting than being around animals – rabbits, cats, dogs, they are all good. If you don’t own a pet yourself, consider borrowing your friend or neighbor’s pet for a few hours.
Another option is to volunteer at a local shelter or visit a pet store to look at and play with some of the animals.
24. Plant something
Working in a garden can be highly therapeutic. Plus, anyone can garden, you don’t need to be an expert to get started.
Clean your backyard, plant a new tree/plant, dig the ground, trim the bushes and rake the leaves while bathing in the sunlight, feeling the breeze and listening to the birds chirping. A few hours spent gardening is sure to life your spirits.
Houseplants and container gardening are good options too.
25. Drink chamomile tea
There’s a wide variety of teas out there that have healing and relaxation properties. One of the most popular is Chamomile tea. Some other options include rose, peppermint, kava, lavender and green tea.
The entire process starting from boiling water to making and consuming your tea can be very relaxing and help take your mind off things.
26. Deep conscious breathing
Taking a few minutes to connect with your body through deep breathing can be very therapeutic.
All you need to do is close your eyes and become conscious of your breathing. Take a slow deep breath while feeling the cool air enter your lungs through your nostrils. Hold your breath for a few seconds feeling grateful for this life energy. Be conscious as you exhale and repeat for a few times or as many times as you want.
27. Take a long mindful shower/bath
Water has the power to cleanse not only your body but also your energy. As you take a warm shower (or a hot bath) consciously feel the water against your skin. Feel it cleanse away all negative energy and stress. A few minutes of mindful shower will restore and rejuvenate you.
28. Listen to guided meditation
A guided meditation is where an expert meditator guides you through the process of meditation. This way you don’t need to second guess anything. Just listen to the voice and let yourself relax. At the end of a session, you will feel like a new person so definitely give it a try.
You can find a ton of guided meditation videos on Youtube or try some meditation apps like Calm or Headspace.
Here’s my go to guided meditation video:
29. Connect with Friends
Good friends are the perfect antidote to a bad day. Meeting up is often the most fun, but that doesn’t always work with your busy schedules. If that is the case, give them a call and have a nice chat over the phone. You can choose to let your friend know you’re feeling down. They’ll probably commiserate a bit and then move on to more enjoyable topics that will have you grinning ear to ear by the time you two hang up.
30. Find a positive intention or mantra
A positive intention is different from an affirmation. An intention is meant to anchor you and guide you. It’s a phrase you return to when you need a reminder of what you really want to feel.
Try taking some time journaling about what you want to feel right now. Or, even better: what do you wish someone would say to you right now? What could someone say to make you feel better? Write all of that down.
Pick a statement that both feels true and resonates with you. In other words, choose an intention that feels like a reminder, not like a lie. Write that phrase down somewhere you’ll see it regularly: put it in your planner, or on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror. Comfort yourself with these words throughout the day.
31. Give yourself a hug or hold your own hand
We know that getting a hug or a gentle touch from a loved one can instantly help us to feel calm and safe. What if there’s nobody around who feels safe to hug, though?
The amazing thing about being human is that you are always there for you. Did you know that hugging yourself or holding your own hand can actually produce the same benefits as hugging somebody else?
It’s true; self touch has been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase oxytocin, the feel-good, pain-relieving cuddle hormone.
So, next time you feel stressed or sad, hug yourself. Squeeze your hand. Draw thumb circles on your palm. Do so with a gentle, loving intention– the same way you’d comfort a crying child. Even if you don’t instantly feel 100% better, you’ll prove to yourself that you have your own back, and that goes a long way in helping you sit with these difficult emotions.
32. Eat dark chocolate
If you are a chocoholic, here’s some good news: next time you’re feeling down, eating a bit of that sweet stuff might lift your mood a little!
Cacao, the plant that chocolate is made of, is scientifically proven to increase your brain’s serotonin levels.
However, next time you’re stressed, try reaching for a bar of dark chocolate – the higher the cacao percentage, the more it’ll increase your serotonin levels. In addition, dark chocolate contains less sugar; you’d do best to stay away from sugar when you’re sad, as sugar can cause an insulin crash, leaving you feeling worse later on.
33. Drink raw cacao and banana shake
Want to reap chocolate’s mood-boosting benefits to the max? Instead of dark chocolate, you can try drinking raw cacao – this is chocolate that hasn’t been processed or added to, so you’ll get even more of a serotonin boost by taking this route.
To make the shake take 1 full banana, 1 tablespoon of raw cacao, a teaspoon of raw honey and half a cup of milk (regular, almond or oat milk). Blend all this up and your mood lifting shake is ready!
34. Use essential oils
Stock up on essential oils to carry around with you next time your mood gets low. You can use these by rubbing a few drops on your wrist, or by using a diffuser to disperse them throughout your home or office.
Depending on your mood, there are a few different essential oils you can try:
Bergamot: soothes anxiety
Bitter orange: increases energy
Vetiver: calms the nervous system, helps to soothe anger, and aids in falling asleep
Chamomile: aids in falling asleep and eases sadness
Lavender: eases depression and anxiety
35. Congratulate yourself on small wins
We tend to be especially hard on ourselves when we’re already feeling low. In addition, a bad mood can make it increasingly difficult for us to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, this can even lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of self-criticism: you feel too down to complete a task, then you beat ourselves up for not getting things done, then you feel even worse… And so on.
If your mood is low, be careful not to send yourself spiraling into one of these negative feedback loops. One positive action you can take to break this downward spiral is to offer yourself some gratitude for even the smallest of accomplishments throughout your day.
Were you able to make it out of bed? Well done! Made yourself breakfast? Awesome job! Completed an act of self-care? Good work!
You get the idea – treating yourself with encouragement, rather than criticism, especially when you feel off, is essential to supporting yourself through hard feelings!
36. Remember hard times you’ve made it through in the past
You’re human. You’ve likely made it through so many hardships with grace. Can you remember any of those times right now?
Remember how difficult certain times in your life have been. Remember that you made it through, that you’re still breathing today. If you made it through once, you can make it through again.
37. Do something just for fun, with no pressure to be “productive”
When was the last time you allowed yourself to do something fun or relaxing, with NO “end result” required whatsoever? In other words: do you allow yourself to enjoy fun activities that aren’t work-related or income-driven?
Take the pressure off of yourself to make money or to be “productive” just for a little while. If you’re feeling down, you likely need to let yourself off the hook, anyway.
Do you allow yourself to enjoy what you enjoy? What’s a fun activity you haven’t allowed yourself to partake in in a while? Let yourself off the hook for a little while and allow yourself to relax.
38. Help someone by volunteering in your community
It’s difficult to give somebody else joy WITHOUT receiving a little joy ourselves!
What are your interests? What do you enjoy doing? Could there be a non-profit organization in your area which could use your volunteer help?
Perhaps you love animals; maybe you could make a shelter dog’s day brighter by taking him for a walk. If you love kids, there’s sure to be an organization in your area that’ll help you serve schoolchildren.
There are boundless opportunities to help people in any community, and bringing a smile to someone’s face is sure to help you lift your spirits.
39. Plan a trip (even if the trip never actually takes place!)
You don’t actually have to go on vacation to feel better– science shows that simply planning a trip (even if it’s an imaginary one) can boost your mood!
Is there anywhere you’ve dreamed of visiting, but you haven’t had the chance yet? Don’t worry right now about holding yourself back if this trip doesn’t feel “realistic”. The point here is to dream up the most amazing trip: where would you go? How would you get there? Where would you stay and what would you do?
Remember, it’s okay if this trip never takes place. Simply dreaming up your dream vacation may lift you out of that slump you’re in.
40. Name what you’re feeling
A little mindfulness goes a long way. When we’re able to notice what we’re feeling, when we’re feeling it, we’re as a result able to learn two things:
- What triggers that feeling, and
- What supports us through that feeling.
That means, next time you notice yourself feeling that same feeling, you’ll be able to face those feelings with empowerment, and support yourself through them with love and grace.
So, take a moment to ask yourself WHAT you’re actually feeling. It seems simple, but it’s these easy acts of mindfulness that we often overlook!
41. Up your Feng Shui game by moving things around in your house
Sometimes, we find ourselves feeling “stuck in a rut”. Our routine feels boring. Daily life feels dull. We feel unhappy, but unsure as to why we feel unhappy.
Feng shui – if you even know what that is!– might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we’re feeling “stuck”. Did you know, though, that practicing feng shui by moving things around your home can help you to feel less stuck, more motivated, and more joyful?
If this resonates, you might check out this article, which explains the “magic of 27 things”. Some people notice that simply moving 27 objects around in your house (throwing clutter away helps, as well) allows them to get their energy flowing again, which causes an instant mood boost.
42. Practice EFT (Tapping)
The Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as “tapping”, stimulates your body’s energy meridians– similar to the way acupuncture works.
Using EFT to stimulate eight specific meridians can actually release trapped emotions from your body. EFT teachers usually show you how to tap each of the eight meridians in order while guiding you to speak positive affirmations out loud; these affirmations vary in intention, and can be used to increase joy, decrease anxiety, relieve depression, increase a mindset of abundance, and more.
If this resonates with you, follow along with the following tapping video by Brad Yates for releasing emotional pain.
Take the pressure off of yourself to feel “better”
43. Let it all out
Throw away all of your beliefs about crying being “weak”. It takes strength to let those energetic emotions out of our systems.
Even if you’re not totally comfortable crying around other people, that’s okay. Take time to yourself alone in nature, or in the shower. Watch A Dog’s Purpose and just let it out.
Remember – what you’re feeling, you’re healing. And crying is a perfect way to sit with and release whatever you may be feeling. Don’t try to contain your emotions. Find a place where you’re completely comfortable to sob and bawl.
When you’re done, try journaling about it, or doing any of the other things on this list. You’ll feel better and recharged afterwards. In addition, remember how strong you are for being able to tolerate the painful release of those emotions, and for continuing to help and heal yourself afterwards.
If you’re doing anything to help yourself, you’re already much stronger than you think.
Finally, remember not to try too hard
There’s a concept known as the “backwards law”; it basically says that accepting a negative experience is in itself a positive experience. It follows, then, that trying to force yourself to be positive can actually cause you to feel more negative.
So remember: it’s okay to feel poorly. It’s okay to be sad, stressed, angry, or whatever else you may feel. It is not a reflection on your character that you don’t feel joyful and positive every single moment of your life.
Allow yourself to feel down. It is okay, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
There are many things to do to cheer yourself up. Depending on the situations one technique will work better than another, so it is a good idea to keep a few different methods in your arsenal of cheer up techniques.