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I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve had some ROUGH days lately. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some really good days too. But it just seems like the bad ones have happening way too often. And I’m pretty sick of it. I know they say that “happiness is a choice”, but some days, that just doesn’t seem to be true. With chronic illness, chronic pain, or even just normal life, there are days that just seem hopeless. Having dealt with so many of these not-so-great days lately, I’ve decided to share some of the tools I’ve been using to make my bad days better. I know these tips for a better day aren’t for everyone, but I figure, if they work for me, they may just work for you too!
Tips for a Better Day
Okay I know this is probably the first on every “make yourself happy” post you’ve ever read, but honestly, it makes all the difference. I’m not saying you have to go on some gnarly hike or go on a beach vacation to have a better day. You don’t even need to be in a park or a natural area of any kind. Simply get outside for a few minutes and breathe in some fresh air. Now that the weather is getting warmer, see if you can take your work outside. Or, after work, enjoy your evening meal on your balcony or porch. Go on a picnic. Just stand in the sun and absorb its rays for 5 minutes. I promise you, it’s an instant mood lifter.
Read a Book
I’ve recently re-discovered reading and it’s the best thing ever. Growing up, I was an avid reader. Especially historical fiction (still a favorite so if you have any recommendations, let me know). I was having a lot of bad symptom days that had me on the couch binge watching Netflix and I was just getting SO bored. Literally nothing sounded entertaining. I needed a change of pace. That’s when I remembered how much I enjoyed reading before I became a college/grad student. So I picked up The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur and got to reading. It was the perfect transition book back into reading. It’s poetry so it’s quick and hold your attention. It’s also beautifully written and makes you feel all the things. I then went on to You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, which is seriously a phenomenal read, especially if you’re feeling stuck. I reviewed it here, if you’re interested. Now I’m on a true crime kick which, while not exactly the most uplifting content, captures my attention and immediately makes me feel better. If you have any book recommendations, true crime or not, please leave a recommendation below!
Play with an Animal
If you know me, you know how my pets are basically my children. I’m obsessed with my dogs, cat, and horse like you wouldn’t believe. Every time I see them, pet them, play with them, whatever, I get so much happier. Just yesterday, I was having another pretty severe pain day and I was trying really hard to not let my depression get the best of me. It didn’t seem like anything I was doing was helping. So I took the little bit of energy I had and spent some time working my horse. I didn’t get to ride (too much back pain for that), but I got to do some ground work with him. Even though he was a total brat at the beginning, just spending that time focusing on one of my favorite animals on the planet improved my mood tenfold.
Now, what if you don’t have pets? My suggestions are this: borrow your friends pets for a little therapy sesh or head down to your local shelter. I know most of my friends and myself are always willing to give up our pets for a little while to help our friends feel better. Additionally, a lot of local shelters will allow you to go hang out with the shelter animals! Even if you don’t have any intention of adopting, some shelters will let you just come spend time with the animals because it helps them socialize. Also, a lot of shelter animals can use all of the love they can get. If you get really into it, volunteer at your local shelter! It’s incredibly rewarding!
Talk to a Friend
I’m not sure how I would have gotten through the last week without the support of my friends and family. It’s been really rough, but knowing I could vent, cry, or whatever to them was seriously reassuring. They also know you really well and know what makes you smile. I have one friend who sends me funny memes and posts every day, and I do the same for her. If you and your friends live in the same town, see if you guys can go to dinner or a movie. Or a hike. Get outside AND see a friend. You’ll be on cloud nine before you know it.
This has kind of been all the range among instagrammer and wellness bloggers, but let me tell you, it works when you’re looking to have a better day. I spent about 30 days at the beginning of the year writing in a gratitude journal every night and it made a huge difference. Even now, when I don’t journal every day, it’s helped me learn to focus on the good. On my worst days, I write these things down. It doesn’t have to be some extravagant bullet journal page with beautiful fonts and washi tape. But if it is, that’s cool too! Just simply write down a few things your thankful for at the end of your day. Or whenever you feel is best for you. It helps you focus on the good. Especially when all you can see is bad.
Podcasts are my answer to everything these days. I listen to them way more than I watch TV. I hardly even listen to music anymore. There’s just something so soothing about listening to someone talk to you for 30 minutes about something you’re interested in that makes any day better. Now, you have to be careful which podcasts you choose when you’re having a rough day. Some of my favorite podcasts are true crime podcasts, which are amazing, but maybe not the best when I’m particularly depressed. My go-to’s when I need a to have a better day are those that are funny and educational. The light banter of the hosts is always something that cheers me up, while learning new things distracts me from what’s upsetting me. They’re great little escapes when you just need to step away from your problems for a bit. For a list of my favorites right now, check out this post.
Do an Activity You Enjoy
This one might seem like common sense, but I feel like it’s often overlooked. On bad days, sometimes it feels like we don’t have the time or the energy to do something besides what’s necessary. But think about it. What’s a hobby or activity that brings you happiness? Gardening? Drawing? Roller derby? For me these days, it’s baking. There’s something incredibly rewarding about putting together one of my own recipes and having it come out well. Not only does it make the house smell amazing, but it results in treats that the entire family can enjoy. And that’s pretty cool. Plus, doing something that’s rewarding, such as baking, makes you actually feel good about yourself. You’ve done something for yourself today, something to improve your life, and that’s pretty cool.
So next time you have need a better day, I want you to think about what you can do to make it better. Try implementing one (or more) of these tips for a better day and see what happens! We might not always have control over our good and bad days, but we do have control over how we react to adversity. And choosing to add a little more happy to your life is about the best thing you can do.