Not too long ago, I found myself in the middle of a terrible, no good, very bad day. Everything seemed to be going wrong and my mind would not stop returning again and again to negative thoughts and envisioning worst-case scenarios. It was one of those days when I felt like, no matter what, I couldn't stop ruminating on what had/could go wrong and I felt far, far away from the present moment.
All I really wanted to do was curl up on the couch and contemplate all the things that weren't going right, but I knew that definitely was not the best way to stay positive or present so I set about trying to come up with the best ways to make the most of my terrible, no good, very bad day. Below are the ten things I did that day to make myself feel better. My problems didn't instantly disappear at the end of the day, but I definitely felt a lot better than I would have if I'd indulged in my own little pity party.
1. CLEAN (AND DANCE!)
One of my favorite things to do when I'm in a low mood is to clean my apartment while blasting some of my favorite pop songs and allowing myself to pause from cleaning to break into an impromptu dance party. This might sound ridiculous, but it really helps. It's really, really difficult to stay sad or upset when you're having a dance party. For one, it takes your mind off of whatever you're worrying about. Two, it's actually productive (unlike laying around moping and feeling sorry for yourself). And, three, if you give the dancing part a try, you get those endorphins going and those little buddies can have a very positive impact on your mood.
2. TAKE A SHOWER OR BUBBLE BATH
After sweatin' it out with my clean/dance party, I (obviously) like to shower. But even if you don't do any physical activity, taking a shower or a bath can be a great way to copy with a terrible day. Kind of like the cleaning thing, it gets you out of your rut, is a productive activity, and all that steam and soap can feel really good. There are also two things you can do in the shower that can really help: (1) think about your problem and possibly come up with a solution (get some aqua notes if this happens to you!) or (2) have a nice long cry (it's sad sometimes but it can feel so good after!).
3. GIVE YOURSELF A MANI/PEDI
If you enjoy painting your nails (I'm a big fan of it because I'm a nail-bitter so when I do have long nails, I absolutely love making them look pretty!), give yourself a manicure and a pedicure. Both of these things require concentration, which can actually be a great way to stay mindful of the moment and not allow your mind to run wild with negativity. Plus, it's another productive activity that you'll feel good about after doing. If mani/pedis aren't your thing, consider some other at-home, spa-like treatment (a facial, a massage, a mud bath? ha!). Treating yourself will make you feel special (and a little bit better!)
4. EAT A DELICIOUS TREAT
Okay, I'm well aware that food should not be considered medicine. (When people use food to feel better about themselves it can lead to a not-so-healthy relationship with what they put in their bodies.) That being said, sometimes you just really need to treat yourself. When I was having my very bad day, I decided I was going to have an ice cream cone (something I would almost never indulge in). I marched myself down to the market a couple blocks away, bought some cones and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, made myself an ice cream cone, and enjoyed it. It was an out-of-the-blue treat and it definitely perked me up!
5. TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL
When I feel down, I generally don't like to share how I feel with the people around me. I try my best to have a positive attitude and I don't like to bring others down by talking about my problems. But when I do reach out to those around me to talk about what's going on, I feel so much better. When I was struggling with my terrible day, I spend a good 45 minutes talking through my troubles on the phone with my mom and after the call I felt a lot better. I didn't have a clear-cut solution, but I'd had a chance to get some feedback and share what I'd been struggling with and it really helped. If you don't have someone to talk it out with (or it's not something you want to share), try writing down how you feel (even if you end up just throwing it away).
6. AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA
During my no good, very bad day, I tried my best to avoid social media. (This was very hard, but I really tried!) When you look at sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all you see are people having the best time and sharing their best-of photos. When you're not feeling great about yourself (or your life...), this can be like little pinpricks of pain and jealousy to your heart. It can hurt to see people having such a good time when you're feeling so lousy so to avoid adding additional pain to your already aching heart and mind, take a little break from the social sites. You won't miss much and you'll save yourself the unnecessary stress of wishing you were feeling / doing something other than what you are.
7. GO TO YOUR HAPPY PLACE
On my terrible day, after pacing around my apartment for awhile, I decided I needed to get out and do something so I took myself to one of my favorite places: the art store. A change of scenery can do wonders for a stressed-out mind or an aching heart, and visiting a place where you feel happy or at peace can be such a nice reprieve. While at the art store, I picked up some supplies for a new project (something to look forward to!) and got to focus on something other than my troubles. If you can't physically go to your happy place, try envisioning what it was like the last time you were there. Doing so can take your mind off of what's troubling you (if only for a little while).
8. LET YOURSELF CRY IT OUT
As my very bad day progressed, I felt more and more like crying. I kept telling myself to suck it up and try to focus on something else, but after hours of this, I had this thought: What if I just let it all out? What if I just shed all the tears I needed to and felt how I needed to feel? So often we try to push away any negative feelings, but sometimes you just gotta let it all out. So cranked up some of my favorite sad songs and just let it happen. I cried and cried and cried until I didn't think I could shed another tear. And you know what? It felt really, really good to just get it out and stop holding it in. I highly recommend allowing yourself a good cry any time you feel like you need one!
9. FIND A GOOD DISTRACTION
When I'm having a tough time, I have a really difficult time not wallowing in how I'm feeling. While I certainly don't think avoiding feelings is a positive way to handle difficulty, once you've talked it out and cried it out, sometimes you need to take a step away from the emotions and just distract yourself. For me, the best distraction is a really good book or a Netflix binge, but you've got to find something that works for you, something that will really take your mind off of your troubles for a bit. This can be tough sometimes (the mind is so powerful!), but when you find a good distraction, allow yourself to indulge for a little while.
10. DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL
If your mind is racing with all the things that aren't going right, it can be so hard to escape the (often negative) thoughts in your head. One of the best ways I've found for getting out of my head and into the moment is doing yoga. It's a physical activity that's a challenge for me so I really have to concentrate on what I'm doing, which doesn't allow me to wallow in what's going wrong. Other than yoga, I'm not all that into physical activity, but there are tons of things you can do that will challenge your body and, as a result, help your mind stay more in the moment: lifting weights, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, etc. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can boost your confidence and help you stay present (instead of in the past / future of your mind).
Not every day is going to be a good day, but some days really are the worst. It can be tough to get through them, but if you try to make the most of the day using these ten tips, I promise you'll feel at least a little bit better (and sometimes "a little bit better" is all you can ask for, right?).
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