The following is a list of my favorite solutions to fix a bad mood and beat a bad day. Often, it’s best to do more than one and build on each until you feel better and better – onward and upward, out of that funk!
1. Take a deep breath. Often when we feel low or stressed, we take shallow breaths that rob our bodies of oxygen and make us feel tense and closed, instead of expansive. I like to take a slow breath and imagine that I’m trying to draw the air all the way down into my toes and then exhale slowly. Do at least three and then then come up with the next action you can take to feel better.
2. Check in with the present moment. Where is your energy going right now? What are you giving it to? Are you feeling low because you are focusing on something negative from the past? Are you focusing on a fear of something in the future, that may or may not happen? Bring your mind back to the present, to RIGHT NOW. I frequently find that nothing is wrong with the present moment. Either fretting or being happy in it is my choice. Happiness is always a choice. It takes practice, but choosing happiness is a skill worth cultivating.
3. Do something good for someone else. Think about the last thing you did for someone that made them smile and upped their happiness. How did that make you feel?
4. Meditate. Do your favorite meditation, or look up a new one online and see what resonates with you. Kundalini yoga offers many excellent meditations for depression such as this meditation for a positive mind.
5. Eat a salad. This sounds so simple, but is probably my favorite easy way to make myself feel better instantly. I don’t know if it’s putting nature’s green goodness, full of all that glorious sun-energy right down into my core that does it or what, but it’s never failed me. This trick was even first suggested to me by someone who was not spiritual or even a healthy eater. He said when he feels off he has a salad and then he feels better. Try it. Note the trick here is to eat some GREENS and hopefully some vegetables too. Not a bowl of ranch dressing and cheese with a few shreds of iceberg lettuce thrown in there.
6. Play with an animal. Animals live completely in the present moment. They don’t worry, and they know how to be silly and take a load off without worrying about what anyone thinks. Go spend some time with one and let it teach you. Bonus points if it’s a puppy or kitten. I believe that baby animals are so dang cute because they just arrived here and are still carrying that fresh Source energy.
7. Make a gratitude list. List anything and everything you can think of and really spend a few moments feeling heartfelt gratitude for each. I keep a gratitude journal by my bed and try to write down 5 things I am thankful for every night as I go to sleep. I’ve done this for years so I now have multiple notebooks full of thousands of things I can go back and look over when I need a reminder of all the abundance in my life. Start with small things such as your favorite food or fresh air or comfy pillows; big things such as the love of your partner or children; or, things we may take for granted such as I can see, I can read, I can write. The sky is the limit and I hope you will find that you have thousands of things to be grateful for too.
8. Get a massage. This one is pretty self-explanatory. These not only feel amazing, but massage flips the switch on the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode – engaged when we are stressed) and engages the parasympathetic nervous system where we can relax and allow production of our body’s feel-good chemicals.
9. Sing/chant. Chanting is an ancient way to energize the chakras and move stuck energy within the body. You can choose to chant a simple seed syllable such as “Om” or look up a Kundalini mantra that resonates with you. You can also freestyle it and and begin by making the vowel sounds (aaaaa, eeeee, iiiii, ooooo, uuuuu). Experiment with deep, resonant sounds that you slowly raise, extend and increase in volume. Feel the vibration move through your body as you change the sound you make. Experiment with keeping your teeth together or apart and feel your forehead and frontal lobe tingling. Our frontal lobe contains dopamine-sensitive neurons so stimulating this area with sound vibration has the potential to make us feel really good. I also like to just sing, especially in the car. Singing along to songs, even if you have to make yourself do it helps to stop our mind from worrying and gives us a break so we can begin to create and build on more positive thoughts.
10. Listen to uplifting music. Music has the power to shift our vibration on it’s own. I have a playlist called “vibration elevation” for when I need a boost. Some of my favorites are Shimshai’s I sense your presence or Fortunate by Guru Singh (and Seal!). Kundalini yoga music is great. Snatam Kaur’s Suni-ai (Listening Celebration) is very soothing to my soul. Satkirin Kaur Khalsa also has some great mantras for dissolving negativity and overcoming depression on her Sacred Kiss album.
11. Dance. Movement is very powerful. Sometimes we become stuck in our bodies and our emotions get locked inside. You may not know how easy it is to release them physically. Gabrielle Roth developed a movement practice called 5 rhythms which has been enormously helpful for me. You can watch a good video on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cYYzcTzm6Y. It may seem silly at first, so you may want to try this when no one is around. I have done 5 rhythms workshops where a whole room dances a wave over the course of several hours. Very transformative stuff!
12. Yoga. You can look up “yoga for depression” and find other suggestions, but one of my favorite things to do that is so, so easy is Breath of Joy. Anyone can do it and it always makes me smile or even laugh. Yoga instructor, Caroline Young says, “In a nutshell, Breath of Joy is three inhalations and one exhalation- first inhale with arms out in front at shoulder height, second inhale with arms out to the side like wings, third inhalation with arms way up over head and one exhale with knees bending and arms sweeping back behind the body with a sigh, grunt or a scream.” Do this 5-10 times and see how you feel!
13. Just accept it. Sometimes we just have to experience the discomfort and make peace with it. When this happens, I like to tell myself that I will take it easy, do my best to take care of ME and know that tomorrow will be a better day. I usually clear my schedule of everything that I deem to be an obligation (putting yourself first is crucial to have the strength to actually make tomorrow be better and beat this thang), eat a salad to get in some nourishing vitamins, and make sure to get to bed really, really early. The next day is always better and I have the strength to keep myself afloat and mentally strong.
14. Clean something. Cleanliness really does seem to be next to Godliness. Sometimes when I feel crappy, I attack the bathroom with a vengeance. Our outer state is a refection of our inner state, so physically scrubbing away something gross and being left with something beautiful and sparkly that smells fresh and clean really works for me. It has the added bonus of making me feel productive, accomplished and less like a mopey bum.
15. Watch a funny movie or video. I really like Buddy Cop movies. I could watch the Bad Boys movies with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence or the Rush Hour movies with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker over and over again. They make me feel good and when I feel low, they serve as a good distraction. If you don’t have time for a movie, try comedy videos on YouTube. I confess that I sometimes watch them at work when I feel like I might go postal.
16. Hot bath or water therapy. A nice bath, with some candles and calming music does wonders for me. I love to listen to Snatam Kaur’s Suni-ai Listening Celebration (see #10 above). Many people also find relief from soaking in epsom salt to draw out tension and toxins.
17. Get outside – take a walk! Going outside is a good change of scenery, and often helps to change our perspective. Plus, fresh air is so, so good for you. Imagine if you were stuck inside forever and deprived of it. That would just suck, no? Go out there and take some cleansing breaths, give thanks for that air, appreciate some greenery and the beauty all around you and get your blood moving while you’re at it.
18. Sit on the ground. Grounding or “Earthing” allows us to connect electrically with the Earth. The Earth is an abundant source of negatively charged electrons, helping to balance the positive charge generate by cell phones and towers, wireless routers, our home electrical appliances, etc. Skin contact is best, but if you can’t walk barefoot on the earth, just plant your bum and let Mother Earth give you strength. Most clothing is at least semi-conductive, especially with the subtle moisture from our bodies. You can also rest your hands on the grass for extra contact. I do this at work all the time.
19. Call your Rock. When I need a mental reset, I call my sis. She always has loads of encouraging things to say when I am down. Don’t call that person who wants to commiserate in your misery or agree with you that life is hard. Call the one who reminds you of how you have always overcome every obstacle no matter how hard it seemed at the time, how far you’ve come and how easy it all was looking back.
20. Do some affirmations. Outloud is best but to yourself works too. Anything that follows the words “I AM” really grounds that vibration into your being. I like to repeat, “I am well.” “Or, I am free of stress and worry.” Make them up. Have fun. I hear people say “I am tired” or things like “I am so depressed.” Even if we aren’t saying them outloud, we are telling our bodies what state to be in. It’s time to re-write that dialogue.
21. Go to sleep. Often I find that our bodies are begging for rest. You may think your body can get by on 6 hours a night but is that with you pushing it? Do you wake up and bounce out of bed? If not, then you probably need more. 9.5 hours per night is my personal requirement. These days we cope with so much stressful external stimuli: unhealthy food, toxic people, stressful jobs and commutes, deadlines, and making sure our kids are taken care of…our body requires much more recovery time than we think. We listen to our mind and not our body. When I am experiencing a less-than-ideal mood, sometimes the best thing to do is sleep it off. The bad mood is often my body’s message to tell me to get some Zzz’s.