Everyone has bad days, but depending on what is going on in your life and how stable you are in recovery, a bad day can become a trigger for relapse that is life-shattering. No matter where you are or what you are doing, if you are having a rough time keeping calm and moving forward, it is time to take a break – 10 minutes or less! – and get yourself back on track.
Here are 15 different things you can try to help yourself get back into a good mood:
1. Do some aromatherapy. Studies show that certain scents can have a pretty immediate positive effect on your mood, so do some experimenting with some of the recommended options (e.g., lavender or orange) to find something that works for you, and then carry a little of that scent with you for when you need it in a pinch.
2. Force a smile. The last thing you want to do may be smile, but research says that even a fake smile can trigger the release a positive “feel-good” hormones in the brain, which in turn can actually make you feel better.
3. Move around. Doing a few jumping jacks, jogging in place, or just dancing around a little bit can also work to trigger a release of those same “feel-good” hormones and help you to feel a little more energized and ready to deal.
4. Have some chocolate. Need some more of those “feel-good” chemicals? Eat a little bit of chocolate, say scientists. A very little bit – the recommendation is no more than a half-ounce, which equals a third of an average-sized chocolate bar.
5. Hug your softest stuffed animal. Okay, so this isn’t necessarily one that you can do out in public, but it still takes less than 10 minutes, so it’s on our list. Technically, it doesn’t have to be a stuffed animal, but research shows that touching soft things like blankets or stuffed animals can make you feel more relaxed and calm, so if you prefer to take a quick 10-minute cat nap under your favorite blanket, then do that for the same effect.
6. Pay it forward. Plug someone else’s meter, buy a stranger’s coffee, or help an older person get their groceries into their car. Research shows that helping out someone else can make you feel better about yourself and improve your mood and outlook, which will in turn help you to feel more positive about whatever you are facing.
7. Meditate. No chanting necessary. In fact, just being quiet for 5-10 minutes in a quiet space where you are uninterrupted can give you the space you need to allow any uncomfortable emotions to subside and reconnect with your purpose.
8. Spend time with an animal. Take your dog for a walk. Pet your neighbor’s cat. Go to a pet store and play with a puppy. Even just a few minutes playing with an animal can increase your sense of peace and happiness.
9. Give yourself a rub. That is, a quick shoulder or hand/wrist rub, or use a tennis ball to massage your instep. These actions can help you to release some stress and relax.
10. Take a shower. Sometimes, all you need is a hot shower to not only remove yourself from a stressful situation but to also clean up and clear your head. Bonus points for using aromatherapy soaps and shampoos to further improve your mood.
11. Put on your favorite dress-up clothes. This doesn’t necessarily mean formal wear. If you’ve been living in sweatpants and a t-shirt for three days straight, it can help you to feel better to spend a little time putting yourself together.
12. Make a gratitude list. Take a few minutes to thoughtfully write out some of the many things that make you happy. As you do, visualize each one for a moment and relive your favorite memory of that thing.
13. Watch a funny video. Or call a funny friend or do anything that is guaranteed to make you laugh. Laughing may reduce anxiety and help you to feel better when you are facing tough things in life.
14. Clean off your workspace. Sometimes, all it takes to put things in perspective is to clean up an area where we spend the most time. Whether this is your workspace or your dining room table, the act of clearing space serves to clear the mind, and it can also give you that “blank page” feeling that allows you to start over.
15. Do some sun salutations. Yoga can help you to regulate your breathing and oxygenate your muscles while increasing strength and flexibility, all while clearing your head of distractions. Just a few minutes a day can give you great benefits. One way to do this quickly and simply is to throw a few sun salutations into your day. There are lots of different ways to do this, so start small and then change it up according to what you need on any given day.
What do you do to shake up your mood when you are having a bad day? How do you get back on a positive track and reconnect with your recovery?