Ways to Lift Your Spirits When Everything Feels Heavy

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If life is getting you down and you're feeling down in the dumps, here are a few things that can boost your spirit!

Hey, life can’t always be daisies and rainbows all the time. Sometimes, life can start feeling a little heavy.

Whether it’s the outside world that’s bringing you down, or you just can’t seem to quiet those negative feelings, there are a few things you can do that might help lift your spirits. Of course, none of these can cure anything, but they may help the next time you need to give your mood a boost.

Pay Attention to How You Are Feeling

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First and foremost, it’s absolutely okay to feel down in the dumps. It is a regular emotion that everyone experiences. There is no shame in being sad, having a bad day/week/month, or feeling like everything is heavy. Say it with me: it is normal.

Pay attention to how you are feeling and the thoughts you are thinking. Accept them, and allow yourself to feel them. That being said, don’t dwell on it. But really, acknowledging it and allowing yourself to feel are parts of the process. Trying to ignore it isn’t going to solve a single thing and might even prevent you from moving into a more positive headspace.

Take a Moment to Breathe

I really just need you to take a deep breath! Okay, now take another, and another.

If you’re not feeling so hot mentally, take a moment to breathe. Doing so can do wonders for calming you and helping you center yourself. Start by setting aside a few minutes and commit to doing it. Pay attention to your breathing.

  • Sit or stand in a comfortable position.
  • Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose, as you count to five. Feel your lungs fill all the way up.
  • Retain that breath for a second before slowly exhaling for another count of five.
  • Focus on “bringing in” positive thoughts or feelings with each breath in. And with each breath out, focus on letting go of any anxiety, sadness, or negative thoughts.

There are many different kinds of breathing exercises. If there is another breathing technique that you prefer, by all means, do it!

Set the Soundtrack

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The right music can really set the tone. That’s because sound influences our minds and bodies. When you’re feeling blue, try listening to music that brings your joy or helps you relax. This is obviously entirely subjective, so I can’t tell you exactly what to listen to. Just make it something that resonates with you!

To really give that melancholy mood a double whammy, why not get up and dance? It’s a fun way to get your blood pumping without it even feeling like exercise. (Hey, some of us just aren’t exercise people, okay?) Or, you could even listen to something non-musical that’s soothing. Try listening to the sound of ocean waves, or an ambient soundscape created for relaxation.

Get a Little Vitamin D

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Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is the stuff your body produces when your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays. This vitamin is actually tied to our mood, and a lack of vitamin D can make you feel crummy.

Head outside to give your mood a little boost with some extra sunshine. As an added bonus, you’ll get some fresh air and exposure to the nature around you – even if that’s just a few neighborhood trees. Getting outside is linked to lower stress, better mood, and even improved attention.

If getting outside helps improve your mood, start adding a little outdoors time to your daily or weekly routine. It could be as simple as regularly sitting outside for a little while – if it’s nice, you can even eat your lunch outdoors! But if you enjoy plants, why not start a garden? It’s a great excuse to spend more time outside each week.

Psst – If you’re going to be spending some time outdoors, don’t forget your sunscreen!

Pet Your Pet!

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I love my fur babies, and they always make me happy. It never really occurred to me that there might be a scientific reason why, but apparently there is! Research shows that petting, snuggling, or otherwise touching our pets can instantly calm and soothe us. Just hanging with them raises levels of oxytocin and dopamine in our brains.

In other words, if you need a quick boost to feel better, it’s time to pet your pet! Set aside some time to snuggle up with Fluffy or Fido. It will help you relax and bring you a little extra joy. If you don’t have a pet of your own, you can always spend some time with someone else’s pet. Or, head to a petting zoo for even more fun!

Think of Things You’re Grateful For

Sometimes, all we need is a few happy thoughts. By intentionally thinking of things we’re grateful for, it can help shift our mindset away from the negatives. Trying not to dwell on sad or negative thoughts is obviously easier said than done. But if you really need some help chasing that rain cloud away, it’s time to recall some positives.

If you’re having a particularly hard time banishing the bad, try making a written list of everything you’re grateful for. There’s something extra powerful about putting it down on paper so that you can refer back to it whenever you need to.

Write It Down

Again, there’s something extra powerful about putting our thoughts down on paper. If you are having a hard time with feeling down, it might be worth it to write it down. By writing down what is bothering us, it gives us the opportunity to express ourselves. It can help us get our thoughts out of our heads instead of dwelling on them.

For many, writing it down can be cathartic. It helps the thoughts “settle,” if you will, instead of having them circulating in your brain. Allow yourself to feel it, put it down on paper, and then move forward.

Get Up and Move

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It is pretty well-known that physical activity can improve a person’s mood. Getting a move on can actually help us release all those feel-good chemicals, including endorphins. That’s what people are talking about when they go on about a “runner’s high.”

Any kind of movement is better than none! You can obviously hit the gym to get your blood moving. But, even people that aren’t a fan of the gym can get up and move. It can be dancing around to your favorite song, or doing a few yoga poses. Try going for a quick walk around the block, or simply stand up and stretch.

Related: How to Stay Fit and Healthy, Even When You Don’t Love the Gym

Chat With Someone You Love

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By nature, humans are social creatures. Yes, even if you swear you hate people! When we connect with others, even if our circles are small, it makes us feel better. If you’re feeling a little blue, reach out to a loved one. It can be a friend or a family member.

You don’t even have to talk about feeling down, or anything that is bothering you, if you don’t want to. Just connect to chat with someone you love. Phone calls and texts work, as does meeting face to face! It will likely help lift your spirits.

However, if you are honest with a loved one about things feeling heavy, it is likely to help even more. Loved ones will do more than just let you vent – they will likely help you see the positive side of things, too. Plus, they’ll just be there to let you know they care.

Do Nothing

Sometimes when I am feeling blue – and I’m having one of those weeks where it feels like everything is going wrong – I just don’t feel like doing anything. I just need a little time to let myself feel blue.

We often get so busy doing and doing some more. Everyone is overscheduled and stretched thin these days. If you’re constantly going without stopping for rest, it can definitely start to affect your mood negatively. It will start making life feel very heavy.

Give yourself permission to do nothing. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want to. Take some time to read a book, stay in bed all day, eat snacks, and binge-watch a show you keep meaning to get around to.

Find Any Excuse to Celebrate

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This is a fun one! Hey, we celebrate big holidays and milestones, like weddings and the 4th of July. These commemorations are always a fun way to lift our spirits. So, why don’t we just celebrate a little bit more? I say we have more parties!

Celebrate the changing season or honor meeting a goal. You can amp up a minor holiday, like Pi Day or Squirrel Appreciation day. Have a birthday party for your pets. Or, start celebrating half birthdays! There really are a ton of things we can celebrate, so why not?

Putting a little extra thought and planning into a day, and getting together with loved ones, is one of the best ways to make things feel a little less heavy. So, let’s just do it a little more often.

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