Health & Wellness

My Definitive List of Things to Do When I’m Feeling Down

October 28, 2022

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Get outside

Go for a long walk or jog in your favorite neighborhood, try out a new hiking trail, or just sit outside in the sunshine. Some fresh air and sunlight (even if it’s cloudy) will help boost your mood.

Go to a yoga class

Yoga always makes me feel better, especially hot yoga, but you could try out pilates or barre or any other workout class that makes you slow down and pay attention to how your body feels.

Take a nap

Many times sleep is all I need to clear my head and feel a bit better about the state of things. I usually hate napping, but if things feel bad enough I’ll give it a try and it usually helps.

Take a shower

Nothing like a long hot shower to wash away current feelings and start fresh. If I have the energy I’ll do a full on self care spa day: shave my legs, pluck my eyebrows, do a face mask…the works.

Put away my phone

The blue light, the overwhelm, the disconnectedness… there are so many reasons my phone makes me feel drained. If I can truly put it away for a decent period of time I usually feel a little better. If you can’t shake it completely try deleting your social apps for a while.

Cold plunge

The first time I ever did a cold plunge was as this amazing spa in Whistler (so dreamy). The euphoria I had from submerging my hot relaxed body into a freezing cold pool is unmatched. I don’t have a cold plunge pool so I rarely indulge in this practice, but on the occasion that I do decide to fill up my tub with icy cold water and take the plunge, I always emerge invigorated and feeling incredible. It’s a great cure for many-a-ailment.

Listen to a podcast

I love a good audiobook or podcast to take me out of my world. The escape is quicker and the connection feels more real through audio rather than reading. (The Armchair Expert is my go to for feel-goodyness).

Listen to music

I have a feel good playlist in my Spotify library that I can break out whenever necessary. Although, my playlist for crying is usually more cathartic. Either way, listening to music can greatly shift my mood.

Watch a feel good movie

Similar to my music catharsis, my list of feel good movies usually has me reaching for the tissues as well as belly laughing. I am a big fan of About Time. Others may prefer something lighthearted or familiar (while not my preference I hear watching The Office is a great mood balancer).

Call or have coffee with a friend

This really should be top of list, but alas nothing pulls me out of my funk better than getting out of the house and seeing a friend. A call is okay, but if you can be near them in the flesh it’s much better.

Drive around and dream

One of my favorite pastimes no matter what mood I’m in is to drive around town and daydream. I like to explore roads I’ve never been down or views I’m fond of while imagining all the wonderful “maybe one day”s that scroll through my head.


I’ve read that you won’t have control over your life unless you can have control over your mind. So naturally I’ve tried to master the art of meditation in order to finally experience this control. I’m not great at it. However, I have found significant value in a daily meditation practice (and I have gotten a bit better at it over time). If you’re like me and need a little guidance at first, try Sam Harris’s app, Wake Up.

Plan a trip I’ve always wanted to take

Half of the enjoyment from traveling comes from researching and planning the trip (for me anyways). If I’m feeling uninspired and blah about my current life, I’ll start digging into this research for somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. This always gets me excited about the wide wide world and all of the living yet to do.

Cuddle my dog

A good hug from my dog really helps calm me and fill up my heart. Any pet will do, but if you’ve never experienced a hug from a Newfoundland go ahead and put it on your bucket list. I will always remember the surge of warmth from hugging my Newfie, Nana. She has since passed, but I can still feel those hugs from her like it was yesterday.

Drink something healthy

Sometimes to cleanse your mood you also need to cleanse your body. Flush out all things negative by drinking tons of water and then fill up with the good things by drinking something full of vitamins and minerals (I prefer a good green juice or an aloe vera water).


Organizing my thoughts on paper helps me sift through the pieces and make sense of the things I’m feeling. Sometimes I just need to purge in a stream of consciousness, other times I need a prompt to get my head pointed in a new direction. Here is a good list of prompts to try if you’re needing the latter.

Look through old photographs

Remembering how amazing my life is always helps adjust my perspective. Flipping through my highlights on Instagram or scrolling through all of the photos on my phone usually makes me smile and gives me a great sense of gratitude for all of the wonderful memories I’ve made.

Hug someone

We need physical touch, and it’s sad how frequently we can go without it in our modern society sometimes. A bear hug or “big squeeze” as my toddler calls them can be a wonderful somatic release.


Speaking of somatic releases crying is a wonderful one. My therapist once told me to never wipe my tears away, but to let them fall, let them cleanse, let them be symbols of healing worn like war paint. I’ve since tried to remember this with my children and let them weep when they need to (even if it’s over something like being given a cut up banana when he wanted a whole banana). Allowing yourself to cry until you’ve released all of the emotion you need to is a wonderful feeling. So often we try to stem the flow of tears, when if we just let them flow we might end up feeling so much better.

Try a breathing exercise

The power of your breath is something else when it comes to regulating your nervous system. There are tons of simple breathing exercises our there to try. Look up box breathing, belly breathing, or even try out a class on breathing techniques. I’ve participated in breath work courses from Sword & Lotus and gotten so much out of them every time.

Cultivate gratitude

Brene Brown’s research has shown that there is a great correlation between joy and gratitude. Establishing a practice for cultivating gratitude is therefore essential in achieving a joyful life. Journal, write a note to someone you are grateful to, or keep a gratitude jar in your house. However you want to establish this practice, just start.


I used to enjoy baking far more frequently. Then I had children and the added mess and sugar seemed unnecessary. But whenever I do break out the stand-up mixer I’m pleasantly surprised at the air of happiness that settles around me. Plus you get double the joy when you get to eat your creation later on. Busy hands and idle minds….

Examine my boundaries

Feelings of stress and overwhelm often stem from my boundaries being overstepped. If I feel a little hopeless at the thought of all I have to get done, it’s a sure sign to me that I need to examine and reestablish my boundaries. Saying no, asking for help, or even hiring help often help me get out of my rut and free up my energy for some of these self-care things on this list.

Rearrange my furniture

An easy way to change my perspective is to literally change my perspective. Playing around with the arrangement in a room is an easy (and free) way to boost your mood if you’re craving change.


Get creative. Try out some form of art that speaks to you. I prefer to paint, but do whatever speaks to you. Tapping into this part of your brain can be a nice change of pace from the consumer driven society we live in. Creating is always more satisfying than consuming.

Deep clean one area of my house

The state of my house is often a good reflection of how I am feeling inside. When I’m feeling down or stressed my house is usually a neglected mess. This only adds to feelings of overwhelm. The good news is that in order to feel a little bit better I just need to clean a little bit. The more overwhelmed I am the smaller I start: my nightstand, the junk drawer, my bathroom mirrors. By tackling just one small area and getting it nice and clean I can start to see the light, feel the progress.

Go out to dinner with friends

When I’m feeling down, usually I’ve been in my house a lot, with my kids a lot, all of the same daily activities – the usual. So switching it up helps create a nice escape. Planning a dinner with friends doesn’t happen all that often with two small children so going out to a nice restaurant with friends will for sure switch up my mood. Never underestimate the power and importance of good conversation with good friends over a good meal.

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