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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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary January 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

When I’m feeling like that, a random act of kindness (feeding a stranger’s parking meter, baking treats for a friend, buying the person’s coffee in line behind me, or basically thinking of anything spur of the moment to make someone ELSE smile) always does the trick as well! It is nice not to always have to focus on making myself happy, but to try and create good energy in the world so that hopefully it will come back to me eventually!


Anonymous January 25, 2012 at 7:43 am

This is such a wonderful idea! I know making others happy makes me happy but have never thought of consciously doing it with that purpose- brilliant!


Meghana January 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

Mary you’re so right. All those things are absolutely great ideas. And I especially like that you want to try to create good energy in the world. Power to you!!


Savita Gupta January 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Hello Meghana,
Beautiful article..i accidentally came across ur blog while searching for “Happiness” on Fb..i am glad i found it..Thanks for writing all that u do..it really helps and makes me feel better..yes I do have my “down” days and I do exactly what you practice..feel sad and then I just ask the thought to get out and leave:)..or start cooking, baking..i find it very hard to forgive and forget some people in my life for the way they scarred my soul..but I’m trying really hard..like ur article im trying to go with the flow..
Meghana, u and I went to same school..ISM..but i was never the kind you would probably remember..Great to read a beautiful blog by a school mate keep writing we all need it..


Meghana January 25, 2012 at 10:22 am

Hi Savita,

I’m so glad you found my blog and are reading it. I’m trying hard to place you from school, but I can’t seem to. I’m glad we’re reconnecting this way.

I’m sorry to hear that you feel your soul was scarred. Forgiveness can be hard depending on what we have to forgive. I hear about people who have forgiven horrors that were inflicted on them and I still wonder how they do it. I too dealt with having to forgive at a smaller level. I wrote an article about it and am posting a link below in case you find something in there that may open a door for you.

A Path To Forgiveness


Anonymous March 5, 2012 at 8:12 am

Great article Meghana! I found you blog y’day while randomly searching the internet since I have been going through some hard times myself and reading your articles makes me feel better, knowing I am not alone going through all these emotions.


Meghana March 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I’m so glad you found my blog and reading it is making you feel better. You’re right. You are NOT alone, and more people than you know share what you feel. We’re all in this together. :)


Fiona March 17, 2012 at 5:06 am

Really well written article and good advice. I am going to shower now, have a cup of tea and then off to bed to just accept the way I feel right now. Thankyou. It is a very lovely piece of writing.


Meghana March 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Fiona, thank you so much. I hope you are feeling a bit better.


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