What To Do When You’re Feeling Down

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Every so often, I have a “down day” – a day when I’m feeling down.1 Recently, I had a few such days.  I had returned from an overseas trip.  I was jet lagged.  I was sick with a fever.  And I missed my parents whom I had just seen.

I tried to follow my own suggestions for feeling happy (shared previously in How to Feel Happy Quickly – Part I, and How to Feel Happy Quickly – Part II).  But I didn’t have the energy to run, walk outdoors, or experience nature.  And the rest of my ideas only helped to a certain extent.  I was trying to “dance with happiness” (see, About), but I kept fumbling.  So, I did what I usually do to get through.


I accept that I’m feeling down.  I accept that I have done what I can to feel better, but nothing is working.  I give myself permission to stop trying.  I stop fighting.  I stop feeling frustrated.  I stop wasting energy trying to feel different.   I accept that this is how I feel.  And I accept that I may feel this way for a while.

When I have fully accepted where I am, the only thing I can do is “just be.”  “Just being” when I’m feeling down feels easier than fighting when I’m feeling down.  And I feel a tiny bit better.

It’s temporary.

I tell myself that what I’m feeling is temporary.  Just because I’m feeling this way today, doesn’t mean I will feel this way tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a new day.  A new day holds new potential, including the potential to feel better.  If I don’t feel better tomorrow, I will feel better the day after.  Or the day after that.  Because nothing stays the same.  Change is constant.  This to will change.  I feel hopeful.  Feeling hopeful feels better than not-feeling-hopeful.  And I feel a tiny bit better.

No gloomy thoughts.

I shut down all gloomy thoughts.  Our thoughts can influence how we feel (see, Choose your Thoughts for Happiness).  And gloomy thoughts make us feel worse.    So, when I notice a gloomy thought creeping into my mind, I shut it down immediately (a good strategy for any day).  Just because I can’t feel better, it doesn’t mean I have to feel worse.  It’s called damage control.

One thing.

I think of one teeny-tiny thing I can do, that will make me feel a teeny-tiny bit better.  And I do it.  It has to be something that feels easy.  Like opening the blinds to let the sunlight in, making my bed, drinking hot tea, or even thinking a thought that is just a little bit more positive than what I’m feeling.  The goal is not to get to happy and upbeat (I’ve already determined I can’t get there right now).  The goal is just to feel a teeny-tiny bit better.

Once I’ve done that thing, I ask myself if I have the energy to do one more teeny-tiny thing.  If yes, I do it.  If no, I accept where I am, and go back to “just being.”  If I later find the energy, I do the next thing.  And the next.  And the next.  If nothing else, I’m always better off than I was one step ago.  But usually, I find that I start to climb out of my hole.


I wait it out.  I know that happiness always exists inside of me, regardless of how I am feeling right now.  I trust that I will feel better.  And I always do.


1. This article has been written for emotionally healthy individuals who sometimes feel down.  It is not a substitute for professional advice.  If you are depressed, please seek professional help immediately.  I am not a mental health professional, and cannot give you the help you need.

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