Numerous studies show the powerful effect exercise has on taking your mood from blah to bearable. When you're feeling down, chances are you're sitting on the couch, staring mindlessly at the television or simply hanging around not doing very much (other than thinking about how bad you feel). But simply getting up and going for a walk can pull you out of your head and help shift your perspective. By moving your body – be it to taking the dog for a walk, going for a quick jog or even working in your garden for 30 minutes – you're getting your blood pumping, endorphins (feel-good chemicals) flowing and burning energy that will help ease anxiety you may be feeling.
Strangely enough, even though no one likes to feel down, it can be surprisingly easy to wallow. But often the key to shaking off the blues is to simply distract yourself by doing something – anything – other than dwelling on how yucky you feel. Even something as mundane as going grocery shopping can provide enough distraction that by the time you get home you're feeling noticeably less blah. The more you give in to your negative feelings the stronger they'll become, so instead of focusing on how awful you feel, get out and do something that will help you focus on something different.
Talk it out
One of the best ways to bust through a case of the blues is to talk to someone about how you're feeling. Even if there's no specific reason for the way you're feeling (because sometimes the blues are just the blues), discussing whatever is going through your head can be enough to shake you out of your funk. Often the worse you feel, the more trapped inside your own head you get, making it hard to have any perspective on your mood. But by talking with a close friend, your spouse or a family member you'll not only get a fresh perspective, you'll feel much less alone with your thoughts.
||If there's no one around to vent to or you just don't feel like chatting, write out everything you're feeling. You can even just open a new document and type – stream of consciousness-style – whatever's going through your head. Once it's all out on paper (or on screen) you may feel less burdened with your bad mood.
Express your gratitude
There's no better way to banish the blues than with a bit of gratitude. When you're in the midst of feeling down everything seems wrong and everyone else's life seems so much better. When this happens, grab a pen and paper and start writing down everything you're thankful for – and we mean everything. Your pets, your health, the health of your family, friends, past situations that have helped get you to where you are today and everything you're proud of and feel great about. You'll be hard-pressed to stay sad when you read through your list full of great things in your life.
||It's a great idea to start a gratitude journal and write one thing you're thankful for every night before you go to bed. This can be as simple as "I was so glad that my kids cleaned their rooms" or "I'm so thankful I got that project finished." The act of ending the day on a positive note will make it much easier to stay happy.
We don't recommend you buy a new shirt or eat an ice cream sundae every time you feel sad – you could end up in debt or with several extra pounds around your midsection. But if you're feeling particularly down and can't shake the negative cloud that seems to be following you everywhere, sometimes a little treat can go a long way. Take yourself out for dinner at restaurant you've been meaning to try, get a manicure or pedicure, check out a museum exhibit you haven't had time to see or buy yourself some bath salts and body lotion for a DIY spa day. Doing something nice for yourself can go a long way in boosting your mood.
No matter how bad you're feeling, one effective (and rewarding) way to push past the blues is by volunteering your time to a cause that needs help. Just check your local listings and find out which charitable organizations could use a helping hand. Walk dogs or feed kittens at your local animal shelter, sort non-perishable goods at the food bank or help out with a literacy program or other organization that works to educate children and adults in need. The more you help others, the better you'll feel about yourself.
More about mood
A holistic approach to healing depression
6 Ways nature can boost your mood
Motivate yourself in 8 easy steps