Did you know that anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the US? Depression is another common mental health condition, with more than 16 million adults suffering from major depressive disorder.
Those numbers show that you’re not alone if you feel down. Whether you suffer from one of these conditions or feel that things haven’t been so great lately, there are strategies you can use to deal with those feelings.
Here are some strategies to explore if you’re wondering how to cheer yourself up.
Learning to Identify Your Feelings
If you feel that you could use some cheering up, identifying your negative feelings can be a good place to start. Putting these feelings into words will give you an idea of how to deal with them or help you identify the things that need to change in your life.
Once you learn to recognize your feelings, it will be easier to track them and notice when things start to get bad. Learning to identify your feelings will help you get in touch with them and understand them better.
It’s easier to talk about your feelings and address them once you learn to recognize them. It’s common to have a vague idea that something isn’t right if you’ve been feeling down without being able to express your feelings in more detail.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:
- Are you feeling bad about yourself?
- Are you feeling bad about a specific situation?
- Do you feel a lack of satisfaction with your life?
- Are you angry at yourself, another person, or a situation?
- Are you feeling worried, stressed, or scared? What triggers those feelings?
- How long have these feelings been present?
- How strong are your negative feelings?
Negative Emotions and External Causes
You should also work on identifying the causes behind your negative feelings. You will find that some factors fall within the realm of what you can control, while others are external factors you have little control over.
Identifying the causes behind your feelings will help you formulate a plan that addresses the root cause of the issue, and it’s also a first step towards accepting that you might not be able to change all the factors connected to your negative feelings.
Common factors to explore include your job, career, school, your relationships, family, and friendships. Your living conditions or busy schedule can also play a part in how you feel. You might also find that factors like people’s expectations of you can impact how you feel.
There are external factors you can’t change. These include the weather, a common cause of mood swings among those who suffer from seasonal depression. Seeing depressing stories on the news can also cause you to feel bad.
Ask yourself if there is anything you can do to change the factors that affect your mood, or modify how external factors affect you.
A Change of Attitude and Breaking the Cycle of Negative Feelings
If you’re wondering how to cheer yourself up, you have already taken a step in the right direction. Deciding to do something about your negative feelings is proof that you’re on the right path.
It’s time to adopt a new attitude and be more proactive about managing your mood and mental health. Things might not be easy at first. Some of your negative feelings might not be easy to explore, and you might not know how to address them.
You will have to open up and might find that this process makes you vulnerable. You need to formulate a plan that will help you acquire the skills you need to manage your negative feelings. You will also have to make a conscious decision to embrace positivity and commit to it.
Set daily or weekly goals that will help you try new things, use simple exercises to track and improve your mood, and adopt new habits for a healthier and balanced lifestyle.
What Does Cheering Up Means to You?
You should take a few minutes to reflect and determine what being cheerful and happy means to you. Creating a personal definition of happiness is a crucial exercise because it can help you identify some goals or things that are missing from your life.
Do you think that happiness in itself can be a goal? If yes, what would it take to achieve it?
What does a happy life look like? Which steps can you take to construct it?
Getting rid of negative feelings shouldn’t be a goal in itself. You should focus on replacing them with positive feelings. Your goal could be to find a sense of fulfillment in your life, spread positivity around you, live a more meaningful life, or feel better about yourself.
You could decide to focus on building a better life for your family or creating better living conditions for yourself. You could achieve happiness by getting to know yourself better through introspection and creativity, finding a career that helps you make a difference, or building a life filled with new experiences.
Your definition of happiness is going to change over the years. Be mindful of what being happy means to you, and use that definition as a compass to find a direction in life.
You need to approach change with realistic expectations. Everyone experiences negative feelings in a while and can have a hard time cheering themselves up.
It’s unrealistic to expect to live a life where you feel happy, content, and fulfilled every day. Everyone has good and bad days, and you should keep in mind that you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good without the bad.
You also need to accept that change takes time. You can decide to take action now and look into strategies you can use to manage your mood and feelings.
It’s going to take a while for you to turn these strategies into daily habits and tools you can use to manage your mental health. Deciding to try new things and making plans are steps in the right direction, but don’t let setbacks make you feel demotivated.
Be realistic about what you can and can’t change in your life. If your job is a source of stress and worry, there are steps you can take to manage those feelings and find a new career. However, quitting your job now isn’t a realistic solution.
Journaling and Tracking Your Mood
The first strategy we recommend for cheering yourself up is journaling. Spend a few minutes in the morning and evening to do a simple exercise.
Reflect on how you feel and write down the three feelings that come to mind. You can use the feeling wheel to find the right words to use.
At first, you might find that you’re able to describe your feelings in very general terms. You might describe your emotions as good and bad, and have a hard time coming up with three different feelings.
With time, it will become easier to identify your feelings, and you will use more precise words to describe them. The purpose of this exercise is to help you get in touch with your feelings and help you identify them with precision.
You should also take a few minutes to write a couple of paragraphs about your day. Write about how you felt throughout the day and write about the events that caused those feelings.
Writing about your feelings is a very effective way of venting and will help you release some of your negative feelings. It will also encourage you to reflect on your day, and you might notice patterns in how your mood changes or in the causes behind your negative feelings.
Feeling down often causes you to overlook the positive things in life. Once negativity takes over, it’s difficult to notice anything else, and you end up feeling trapped in a cycle of negativity.
Positive thinking will help you break that cycle and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Positive thinking allows you to focus on the good things in your life and can make a huge difference in your mood and attitude.
Get started with positive thinking by completing a simple exercise. Take a few minutes to write down three positive things that happened during your day every night. You can write about three positive things that you witnessed, or three positive thoughts you had. You can also list three things you’re thankful for.
There is another easy positive thinking exercise you can do. People who experience depression tend to think and speak in absolutes. You might find yourself using words like always and never to describe your feelings. You might feel that every single person in your life doesn’t care or doesn’t pay attention to you.
Be mindful of these thoughts, and challenge them with positive ideas. Every time you catch yourself thinking in absolutes, take five minutes to look for examples that contradict the absolute statement you made.
You can use affirmations in the morning to start your day on a positive note or use them to distract yourself when you feel bad.
Positive affirmations replace negative thoughts and help you reframe things in a different way. You can write them in your journal or say them out loud. You can write them on post-its to keep them in mind throughout your workday.
You can create personalized positive affirmations, or use affirmations from this list:
- I accept my negative feelings. My negative feelings don’t define me.
- I can deal with the situation that is causing me to feel stressed.
- I accept that there are factors I can’t change in my life.
- I want to make the most out of my current situation.
- I commit to building a better life for myself through the things I can change.
- I commit to focusing on the positive things in my life.
Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Our modern lifestyle is often filled with distractions that cause us to feel disconnected from the present.
If you’re experiencing negative feelings, you might find yourself worrying about the future or focusing on missed opportunities from your past. Being present in the moment will help you accept your feelings.
Mindfulness will help you be more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Existing in the present will help you create a distance between yourself and the negative emotions that are connected to your past or future. Developing an awareness of your mood and feelings will prevent them from taking over, and learning to focus on the present will help you reframe things when you start feeling bad.
You can get started with a simple breathing exercise. Whenever you feel stressed or depressed, take five minutes to focus on your breathing. The exercise might be difficult at first because your mind will keep coming back to your feelings or the cause of your stress. As you practice, this exercise will help you clear your mind and exist in the present.
Several studies have found that physical activity can help with mental health. In fact, exercising could be just as effective as antidepressants for patients who suffer from mild to moderate depression symptoms.
Exercising helps with stress and anxiety. It helps you be present and aware of your body. It helps you focus, improve your memory, and boost your energy levels. You will also sleep better.
Exercising by itself might not be enough to address your negative feelings, but taking twenty or thirty minutes to exercise when you feel down can make a huge difference.
Aim to be active for 75 to 150 minutes each week. If possible, exercise outdoors, so you can enjoy nature.
How Your Diet Affects Your Mood
Your diet can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels. Low blood sugar can cause mood swings. We recommend eating small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day to maintain your blood sugar level.
Foods rich in sugar and carbs can cause your blood sugar to spike. You will feel energetic and motivated during the spike, but might feel tired and depressed once your blood sugar goes down. A diet rich in carbs and sugar can cause mood swings and worsen depression and anxiety.
Caffeine can be problematic. It can make stress and anxiety worse, and you might feel tired and depressed when the effects of your daily cup of coffee wear off.
- Replace coffee with tea or another beverage.
- Eat healthy portions of carbs.
- Cut back on foods with processed sugar.
- Introduce lean sources of proteins to your diet.
- Eat foods rich in vitamins, like fruits and vegetables.
- Eat foods rich in fiber.
If you have a go-to comfort food when you feel bad, try replacing it with something healthier. You will also find that cooking at home and trying new foods can be fun experiences that enhance your mood.
Meditation is an activity you can practice on a daily basis to manage stress and other negative feelings. Meditation can help with sleep and improve brain function.
Here are different types of meditation you can try:
- Relax and count your breaths.
- Do a guided meditation exercise.
- Use visualization exercises to explore your feelings.
- Go for a walk in nature, and be mindful of your surroundings.
- Meditate with music.
Meditation is an activity that allows you to take a break from what you are doing and focus on yourself for a few minutes. You can use visualization or guided meditation exercises to identify your feelings and let them go.
Guided meditation, meditation with music, and mediation in nature will teach you how to control your focus. These exercises require you to focus on your surroundings, sounds, your body, or your feelings.
Meditation will help you be more present and aware of how you feel. It will lower your stress levels and could be an effective go-to exercise when you start feeling bad.
A simple yoga routine is a great way to start your day. There are easy poses you can do anywhere and whenever you start to feel stressed.
Like mindfulness and meditation, yoga encourages you to focus on simple things like your breath and your body. It helps you be present and allows you to clear your mind.
Yoga helps you feel more comfortable in your body. It can also lower inflammation, reduce joint pain, and relax tense muscles. This activity helps you slow down and relax. It’s great for heart health and nervous system health.
You can add yoga to the list of activities you plan on incorporating to your weekly schedule to be more active. Studies have shown that yoga releases brain chemicals that lower stress, and researchers believe that yoga triggers a relaxation response in your body.
Feeling isolated can worsen depression and anxiety symptoms. Being socially active can boost your mood, and it’s essential to build a support network to have people you can turn to when you feel bad.
Spending a few hours with a group of friends can help you feel motivated, and you will get a chance to vent about your negative feelings.
Calling a friend who makes you laugh is a fun way of taking a break from what’s bothering you. Cheering a friend up can help you feel better, and planning activities together will help you be more active and try new things.
You might not feel like seeing anyone when you feel down. It’s fine to be by yourself for a while, but you should plan a few social activities each week to avoid feeling isolated.
Here are some ideas to explore if you don’t have a close circle of friends:
- Get to know your colleagues better during breaks at work.
- Call a family member.
- Use social media to reconnect with old friends and meet up.
- Invite a neighbor or colleague for a cup of coffee.
- Invite a friend over for dinner if you haven’t seen them in a while.
Meeting new people can do wonders for your mood. It’s stimulating, and you will discover new worldviews.
You can meet new people by volunteering, joining a local sports team, or signing up for a book club. Other ideas include a cooking, art, or dance class, your local dog park, culture events, church, classes, or seminars.
Helping others can give you a sense of purpose and contribute to your happiness. It will help you focus on something other than your negative thoughts.
Finding activities that you are passionate about and that help you make a difference will give you a sense of fulfillment. Using your skills and talents to help others will make your life feel more meaningful and could open up new opportunities for you.
Here are some ideas you can explore:
- Volunteer at a local non-profit.
- You can make donations if you don’t have time to volunteer.
- Look for ways of helping people around you.
- Try doing a small act of kindness each day.
- If you have elderly neighbors, get to know them and visit them regularly.
- Think about finding a new career where you can help others.
A creative hobby can be a fantastic outlet for your emotions. Artistic creation can help you process your feelings while giving you a sense of purpose. Trying different creative hobbies is a fun process of self-discovery.
Hobbies will help with stress, and creating art releases dopamine. This chemical makes you feel good and adopting a creative activity as a regular hobby will help with your mood. A creative hobby will give you something to focus on when you experience negative feelings and will make your life richer.
The great thing about art is that you don’t need to have any kind of experience with a medium to start creating something. There is a wide range of hobbies to explore:
- Learning to play an instrument
- Building scale models
- Flower arrangements
This list of hobbies is non-exhaustive. There are plenty of other ideas to explore. Look for local clubs that will give you the opportunity of trying a new hobby while meeting new people!
Feeling Better About Yourself
Is your inner dialogue a source of anxiety and sadness? If yes, it’s time to work on your self-esteem.
You might suffer from low self-esteem if you tend to compare yourself to others. You might be very critical of yourself and your accomplishments and tend to focus on your problems. It’s also common to feel worthless or powerless.
Here are some strategies you can use to boost your self-esteem:
- Learn to recognize the thoughts that are detrimental to your mood and self-esteem, including negative judgments about yourself.
- Challenge these thoughts by looking for proof that these negative statements aren’t always right.
- Journaling can help you reflect and figure out why you feel bad about yourself.
- Think about what an ideal version of yourself looks like. Identify the values you care about, the skills you would like to have, and the kind of person you want to be.
- Take some steps to get closer to that ideal version of yourself.
Make a Go-To Plan for When You Feel Down
A lot of the strategies on how to cheer yourself up that we mentioned above are things you can integrate into your weekly routine to gradually improve your mood.
We also recommend having a go-to plan that will distract you from your negative thoughts and feelings. It can be difficult to figure out what can help when you feel down. You might feel like isolating yourself or might not want to do anything.
Having a list of things to do or a box with some items means you don’t need to figure out an activity or strategy that will help. You can get started right away and hopefully get over your negative feelings.
Here are some examples of things you can include in your go-to plan:
- A meditation exercise
- A short yoga session
- Some positive affirmations
- A self-esteem exercise
- A movie that makes you laugh
- The phone number of a friend you can always vent to
- Spending time with your pet
- A list of your accomplishments
- Some items that make you feel motivated
- A walk in nature
We covered a lot of strategies you can use to improve your mood by yourself. However, you should think about seeking outside help.
Reaching out to friends and family is an excellent strategy that will allow you to vent. Contact people who are supportive and willing to listen or cheer you up. Having a friend who is willing to check up on you once in a while can make a huge difference if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety.
Getting help from a professional like a counselor or therapist can be beneficial if you suffer from depressive symptoms, or feel that you can’t manage your stress and anxiety on your own. They will be supportive and help you explore additional strategies you can use when you feel down.