How to Become Happier When Your Feel Low
“How can I lift my mood and be happy when I feel fed-up, anxious or stressed?” is a question I am often asked by friends and clients.
It isn’t easy, because when we feel low, no matter how cheerful or optimistic we usually are, fear sets in and we think we’ll always be unhappy and alone.
For instance, have you ever gone through a painful separation, maybe a divorce, the break-up of a close friendship, or unexpectedly losing your job?
I have, and it’s horrible.
Because, no matter how pleasant or hopeful you normally are, we grieve, doubt ourselves and feel we are not acceptable during these moments.
And in this cycle of despair, it is easy to lose hope that anything will ever change.
Life was miserable, during my divorce and for a good two to three years later, and I suffered trying to keep our home, and my children’s life’s together.
I battled to get through each day, avoiding as many social commitments and family obligations as I could.
Fortunately, I had a steady meditation and yoga practice by then and relied heavily on these timeless skills, teachings and techniques to get through each day.
Some days were better than others.
However, I’m here now.
And in this post, I’ll share five mindfulness-based self-care strategies that can help you feel and stay happier; and recover the joy in your life, no matter what’s happening.
My divorce was one of the lowest times in my life.
I stopped believing in myself, had trouble falling asleep, and dreaded waking up because I would be exhausted and have no energy and was tired all the time.
The worst part was hiding my feelings and putting on a brave face for the sake of others.
However, my regular yoga and meditation practices helped me start the day and make it through each day and eventually understand what it means to be happy and at peace. However, my regular yoga and meditation sessions helped me persevere and get through each day and eventually feel happier and more settled.
I hope they work for you too.
How to be happier tip #1 Embrace life
When life looks less than desirable, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself.
Life-changing events, such as separation, divorce, and poor health, can leave you vulnerable, anxious and unsure of your next move.
It is easy during these times to blame and criticise yourself for things and not believe things can change.
I’ve come to accept that there are some things we just can’t change.
Ultimately, we are not responsible for how others behave, what they think, feel or believe.
We may desire things to be different, yet, all we can do is strive to find the good, the bad and the ugly parts of life.
It doesn’t mean we agree with the situation.
It just means we continue to draw on our mindful self-care practices to help us believe in ourselves, love ourselves and do what we can to effect change.
I used to journal and, at night, force myself to write down “one good thing that I did for myself today.”
And if nothing came to mind, I would write, “I am doing this journaling exercise”- and that felt good.
Know that nothing lasts forever, and even in our sorrow, we can embrace life and strive to make a difference in our inner world as we walk with our grief.
How to be happier tip #2 Be nice
As a mother, I often waved my children goodbye with the words, “Be nice, play nicely with the other children in the playground.”
The word “nice” has taken a knocking in years, yet in essence, when you are “nice”, you are being present, pleasant, agreeable, good-natured and kind.
Isn’t that a ‘nice’ state to be?
When we are down, we lose this state of being. Everything becomes brittle and hard.
Again, I’m not saying we put up with bad behaviour.
Instead, I encourage you to switch things around and be extra nice to yourself.
To whisper a pleasant “good morning …..(insert your name) how are you today” and give yourself a hug when you look in the mirror.
I felt foolish the first few times I did this.
It was strange and awkward to intentionally speak positively to myself instead of my customary “put-yourself-down” speech.
However, treating yourself kindly strengthens self-confidence and reinforces your commitment to happiness as you embrace life and find a space to move forward.
So take time during your sadness, please be nice to yourself.
Imagine: How would you treat a newborn puppy who has lost its mother?
I invite you to extend this niceness and care to yourself.
How to be happier tip #3 Release judgement
Related to the idea of being nice, and embracing life, is the skill to release judgement — judgement of self and others.
Yes, I will admit that even after 5 years, I still work on “forgiving my ex.”
However, I find that the more I take care of myself, the easier it is for me to let go of the need to place blame and feel resentful and angry.
The more we let go of our anger, fear, and blame, the easier it is to breathe.
With easier breathing comes the power to care for ourselves more intimately, which is more satisfying than shouting epithets and name-calling.
How to be happier tip #4 Be open
If you are going through a particularly distressing time, you may feel vulnerable, exposed and raw.
As our bodies enter survival mode, it is simple to shut down and erect self-protective barriers to protect ourselves from harm.
We struggle to know what to do when we fight back, flee, fawn or become stuck. Once more, this pulsing energy feeds the ravenous harmful beast inside.
To move forward with our lives and find the happiness we deserve, we need to invite more self-care and kindness into our hearts.
I understand how difficult it is to release and lower the shutters.
Practising loving-kindness meditations (watch the video below) helps you gently surf the edges of your suffering and explore what is beneath the agony and fear.
Again, being aware and mindful of your thoughts and feelings doesn’t change things overnight.
We still typically find ourselves in the same or somewhat similar abusive situations.
Instead, practising loving-kindness and mindful self-compassionate meditations will give you the time to reflect on what it might feel like to let go of concerns and self-criticism while also giving you a taste of what self-love and kindness might feel like.
This will widen our window; from this point, we can develop the confidence to make the changes we need to move forward.
How to be happier tip #5 Seek social support
Perhaps the most significant action we can do to improve our mood is to feel a sense of belonging to a group of close, caring, supportive friends and family.
Today, we have the option to schedule video chats via zoom, participate in online forums, prepare a simple meal, and invite neighbours over. Anything you can do to support and nurture yourself will make you feel happier and cultivate a sense of belonging and connection with others.
What an easier life it would be if we could simply take a magic pill that would make us happier and remove all the hassles and toxic people from our lives!
I wish there was. That would be great.
However, based on personal experience and professional observations, the closest wonder pill I know to help us feel happier when down is a cocktail of mindful activities, including
- practising loving-kindness and self-compassionate meditation,
- embracing life,
- being open and
- curious to what if,
What do you think?
What else from your experience makes you happier when you’re feeling low, and what have I missed?
Please share your suggestions and insights because they might brighten someone’s day. Many thanks.
And if you found these 5 mindful self-care activities useful in helping you feel happier, I invite you to subscribe to my weekly-ish newsletter Restore Hope, for inspiration and practical tips to build and strengthen your inner peace and self-care practices.
Click here to subscribe today. Many thanks.
And may you and your loved ones be happy, safe and well.
This post is updated: Originally published at https://ezinearticles.com on September 19, 2011.
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