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.
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.
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.