I’m not gonna lie. Right now? Life feels a little like a dumpster fire. I’ve been traveling for the past two months and have been sick pretty much the entire time. I’m also extremely homesick (which is really rare for me) and I’ve been neglecting my health. Basically, I’m indulging in a pity-party for one.
If you’re stuck in a funk, there are steps you can take to turn that train around. Find out how to make yourself feel better — even when it seems like everything is total garbage.
How to Make Yourself Feel Better: The Definitive List
Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT)
Usually the first thing I recommend doing when you’re trying to figure out how to make yourself feel better, is Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT).
EFT is this fun trick that helps rewire your brain and thought patterns. Our brains are basically conditioned to think the same thoughts over and over — and to respond to stimuli and situations using only a handful of emotional responses.
If your go-to response to your coworker losing his sh*t on you is to hide in the break room and stuff your face with day-old donuts, that’s what your brain is going to want to do. Every. Single. Time.
EFT uses the same pressure points used in acupressure and acupuncture to rewire these patterns.
You tap on pressure points (top of your head, side of your eye, under your nose, etc.) while making four different sets of statements, designed to help your brain rewire its thought process.
It’s mostly foolproof, so you can’t really mess it up. But if you want some guidance, I’d recommend downloading the Tapping Solution app, which contains dozens of guided tapping meditations. Each meditation is themed (turn around a bad day, clear negative energy picked up from others, resist cravings), so you can focus exactly on the thought processes that are most destructive.
The Tapping Solution book explains exactly how this system works.
Log Your Feel-Bad Days
If you’re someone who struggles from depression, you probably already know: depression lies.
Depression can make you feel like you’re always going to feel like garbage. It can make you forget you were ever happy. It will whisper in your ear that you’re not good enough to pull yourself out of this funk. Don’t listen to it.
I like to keep a journal of my feel-bad days. Whenever I’m feeling shitty, I write three-to-four sentences about how I feel in my journal (and I date it). The next time I notice I’m feeling better, I mark the date in my journal and write a few sentences about why I feel better.
The next time I’m having a hot-garbage day?
I look back at my journal and count how many days or hours it took to turn my mood around. This act reminds me that I will in fact feel better again. Maybe it’s not today, and that’s okay. The point is that this process allows me to remember that I’m going to feel better again in the future.
Drink a Glass of Water
Did you know that too little water can impact your mood?
In 2012, the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory performed a study on 25 women and 26 men to determine if dehydration could affect your mental clarity, mood and energy levels.
The result? Turns out, it doesn’t matter if you’re exercising or stationary — even mild dehydration can have an adverse effect on your mental capacity.
The kicker was that they found it was more important for women to stay hydrated than men.
“Adverse changes in mood and symptoms were ‘substantially greater in females than in males, both at rest and during exercise.'”
This means if you’re struggling to find out how to make yourself feel better, adding more water to your daily rituals could tip the scales in the right direction.
Some experts recommend keeping a carafe of water by your bedside and drinking a full glass each morning. Or, invest in a water bottle that can actually coach you to drink your daily minimum.
Eat Something Green
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of ‘forgetting’ to eat my recommended daily serving of veggies. Especially the green ones.
But it turns out that eating enough fruits and veggies can have a huge impact on your happiness. If you’re struggling to find out how to feel better, eating a few greens could actually help improve your mood. According to an Australian study, increasing your daily intake of fruits and veggies by two servings can make you happy.
A bump of .24 in your happiness score. The same amount of happiness that most people get from landing a new job!
Researchers don’t have enough data to explain the bump in happiness, but they do believe it may have something to do with increased levels of B-12 and serotonin production.
An easy way to boost your fruit and veggie intake is through a subscription box. I love Misfits Market, a company that ships slightly misshapen produce at super-low costs ($22 for the small box and $35 for the big box).
Adulting readers get 25 percent off their first month by using this special link!
Practice Self-Care Rituals
I’m also not so good at practicing rituals on a regular basis.
Sure, I practice them when I’m feeling lonely, sad or anxious. But when I’m happy? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Yet, making time for self-care rituals is a great way to prevent those hard crashes. If you’re taking care of your mind and body, you subconsciously instill in your psyche that you’re worth taking care of.
Some of my favorite rituals include my:
Make Friends With Negative Feelings
One of my favorite books on sadness and loss is When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.
She offers up some of the best advice on dealing with those uncomfortable feelings we’d all rather just sweep under the rug.
Specifically, she recommends making friends with negative feelings. Meaning, you should consider your negative feelings as insights into your life. Just a few insights might include:
- What things in your life need to change
- People you may need to purge
- Habits that no longer serve you
- Lifestyles that aren’t doing you any favors
When we refuse to look at uncomfortable feelings, we can often miss some of the gifts they offer. But when we can sit with those feelings, we can begin to realize that they aren’t here to make us miserable; they’re here to liberate us.
Don’t Take It Personally
If you’re currently feeling miserable as the result of outside circumstances, try not to take things personally. Maybe you didn’t get a job because there’s a better one waiting for you. Perhaps the cashier at the supermarket was rude because he’s been going through a rough patch.
My guess is that the sun isn’t shining and the birds aren’t singing specifically to make your day miserable, either.
Don’t take it personally. The more adept you are at shaking things off, the higher your emotional IQ.
Stop Trying to Feel Better
Maybe instead of asking how to make yourself feel better, you should be wondering how to sit with your feelings. Sometimes the act of trying to feel better can actually make us feel worse. If you’ve been struggling to find your bliss — but coming up short, and you’re still struggling to find out how to feel good, maybe just stop.
If you’re sick, feel sick.
If you’re broke, just accept you’re broke.
If you’re sick of the rain/snow/cold/too many days of sun in a row, find a way to accept what you cannot change and move on.
Make Your Thoughts Your B*tch
One truth that everyone seems to forget all the damn time is that we all have the freedom to choose our thoughts every day.
If we’re bummed, we get to decide not to be bummed. If we’re mad, we have the ability to choose to feel something else. And when we’re super low? We all have the ability to turn that darn train around so it’s not screaming straight to crazy town.
In the words of Richard From Texas in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love:
You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.
List Your Happy Thoughts
I love gratitude journals and try to make gratitude a part of my daily evening ritual. But sometimes I need to expand my idea of happiness and gratitude.
Instead of writing why I’m grateful for three things, I’ll make a list of all the things in this world that spark joy.
I save this list in my Notes app in my phone so I can add to the list (and look back at some of my previous happy thoughts). It’s fun to see how my happiness progresses on any given day — and I usually remember a few things that spark joy that I would have otherwise forgotten about.
Change the Channel
If you’re sick of feeling sad all the time, quit watching sad movies and listening to the Cure, dang it!
If you’re stuck in a funk, one of the best ways to snap out of it is to change your behaviors.
Watch a comedy special on Netflix or log onto Spotify and listen to one of their ‘Happy’ playlists. Better yet, make a happy playlist for yourself, full of all your fave feel-good tunes.
I hate to even mention it, but if you’re seriously battling the blues, you might want to consider cutting back on your alcohol consumption, too, since alcohol mood swings aren’t the myth we’d all hoped they were.
How do you make yourself feel better when you’re in a fun? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey, hey! Just a few things before you leave… this post contains affiliate links, so if you buy something after clicking on a one, I might (fingers crossed!) just get a little commission. Good news: I only recommend products that I love! Which means you can feel good about all of my recs.
Also, you should know that I’m not a doctor. More importantly, I’ve never played one on TV. Always consult your doctor before taking any advice from me (or anyone else on the internets for that matter).
If you or someone you know is considering hurting themselves or others, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.