Sometimes we just need a win, and we don’t need to spend a lot of energy working towards that win. I get it. I’ve definitely been there, both after my parents died and even a few times before. You are so far down in your depressed state that you can’t rouse yourself out of it, but sometimes the things you can do to make yourself feel even just a little bit better are small and don’t take much effort. And sometimes doing these small things may mean the difference between a good and bad day, so I challenge you to make it a good one.
1. Visualize yourself having a good day. This is especially helpful to do first thing in the morning when you wake up, or even the night before, right before you fall asleep. You can even do this for smaller interactions, like if you know you have a big meeting or presentation that you’re worried about. Visualize it going well, rather than thinking about all the ways that it can go wrong. If you do this, you are much more likely to be in a better mood and show more confidence than if you are stressing out and looking for the other shoe to drop.
2. Make your bed. So yeah, you’ve probably heard this one before, and I’ll admit, when I’m in a rush in the mornings, I don’t always complete this one myself, but nevertheless, it’s very effective. Starting your day off by finishing a relatively easy task like this, will, believe it or not, give you a sense of accomplishment and start you off with a very easy win for the day. You will already feel as if you have gotten something done, as if you have been productive, and don’t we all need that feeling? It also visually makes your space feel almost instantly straighter and neater, which is not a bad thing for sure, and to me personally, it always seems to inspire me to continue keeping my room and house just a little neater and cleaner throughout the day.
3. Go for a walk (or get moving somehow). Don’t stress out too much about when or for how long, just get out there and do it. I personally like going for a walk or bike ride outside when the weather cooperates because it benefits me by both getting outside into nature and by getting my blood pumping. If you hate being outside, don’t force yourself to go out there, but try to do a dance or yoga video or something to get you moving. You don’t have to pay for anything. There are lots of great videos on YouTube for free and obviously walking outside is free too. You can do this in the mornings, during your lunch break, or the in the evenings, whenever you feel most comfortable. Don’t get caught up too much on the parameters. Just focus on doing something.
4. Give yourself a reward to look forward to. If you have a day you know is going to be difficult, or a task you despise doing, give yourself some sort of reward for making it through it. This could be a hot beverage (or cold, no judgement 😉 ), a small treat like a bite sized candy bar, listening to your favorite song, a guilty pleasure TV show, drawing yourself a nice bath, whatever you think will give you something to look forward to at the end of a hard day or after completing a dreaded task. For me, it’s usually a mug of tea and a few pages of whatever book I’m reading or occasionally some TV, depending on how I’m feeling.
5. Practice gratitude. I have done gratitude journaling off and on for years, and I have recently started doing it again at the suggestion of my therapist. Over the years, I have kept a gratitude journal in an actual journal to just keeping it in the notes section on my phone, which is what I do currently. I used to make myself do a specific number of things I was grateful for like five, ten, or three, but more recently, I’ve just started writing down what comes to mind. To be honest, I don’t do this every single day, but if I have a particularly bad day, I do try to make myself do it on those days in particular. Gratitude journaling is very helpful in helping you see the positives in situations and the good in your day, even if overall, it was a pretty crappy day.
Bonus: Give yourself some grace. If your day isn’t going perfectly, if it isn’t going exactly as you visualize it last night before you went to sleep, that is okay. We are human, and in my life, as I’m sure in most of yours too, things pop up in my day that I can’t plan for that I couldn’t account for in my plan for the day that I made first thing that morning or the night before. We cannot expect every day to go perfectly. We cannot expect obstacles to not arise. We cannot expect ourselves not to be human. Sometimes we will make mistakes. We will not respond to every situation perfectly. And that is all okay. Because the next day will come, and we will continue to choose happiness then.