How to lift your mood when you're feeling down

How to lift your mood when you're feeling down

We all have times when we feel flat. Maybe we know the reason (we need a break, there’s conflict at work or trouble at home), but sometimes we don’t. Here are some concrete steps you can take to help lift your mood when you’re feeling down.

All of these pointers rely on a fundamental principle: be kind to yourself. This might mean taking things one day at a time or getting back to the basics of self-care. As these small but important acts become habits, you may feel your mood begin to ease or lift*:

Accept that there is an issue

We understand that it can be difficult to recognise or acknowledge that you’re not feeling yourself; many of us put on a brave face and try to hide our feelings, even from ourselves. The truth is: only when you identify, can you begin to rectify.

Climb hills, before you climb a mountain 

When even the smallest acts feel like a challenge, it helps to break your day up into manageable parts (the hills). You can also break tasks into smaller chunks to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. This will help you achieve mini-goals, whether that’s as simple as getting dressed in the morning, or a daunting project deadline.

Turn to loved ones

Reaching out is a sign of strength. It may not feel like it when you’re down, but friends and family want to be there for you (just as you would want to help someone you care about).

Exercise and eat healthily

When we’re down, we often crave the very things that aren’t good for us. But a balanced diet and regular exercise will keep your mind and body fresh, reduce tension and stress, and improve your mood. Perhaps it’s time to consult a nutritionist and find out what would boost your energy? Start small: even a five-minute walk outside will boost your mood and help you feel stronger emotionally.

Establish a sleep routine

We know that getting out of bed is often the first challenge of the day when you feel down or depressed; you might feel heavy, that you could continue sleeping all day or wonder what the point of your day is.

Here’s where good sleep habits really help. Getting a good night’s rest, if possible, and waking up at the same time each morning keeps you well rested and balanced. It also helps to do some mindset work first thing in the morning and to visualise some pleasure in your day.

Answer this crucial question

What are you really saying to yourself about yourself and the situation you are in? Simply being aware of negative thoughts is a great start. Don’t judge the thoughts – just watch them, and then quietly let them go. If you feel ready and strong enough, experiment with a more positive / functional thought.

Start with one thing a day

I give my clients a "pleasant events list" with approximately 100 ideas for bringing more love and joy into their lives, asking them to do one thing a day. Their feedback is that it works wonders!

Create a list for yourself or choose one activity you used to enjoy and commit to trying it, without any expectation. No matter how it goes, congratulate yourself for just showing up. Then see how you feel the next day, and the next, accepting that sometimes you may go two steps forward and one step back. That’s okay!

Take it slowly and acknowledge even the smallest steps forward

We understand that the steps above – even the “simplest” ones – take extra effort when you’re down. This is why we encourage you to take it slowly. Some steps will be easier than others; just as some days will be easier than others.

No matter your “success”, congratulate yourself for getting through the day and for trying. Hold even the smallest achievements in your heart. Know that you can recover as you make one small victory after another.

Don't be afraid to seek professional help

Untreated depression or feeling down for a long time can have devastating consequences on your life and how you feel about yourself. If you are experiencing depression, remember: it doesn’t have to be this way. Give yourself a chance to feel better again.

You know best whether things in your life are not going well. Problems at home or in your love life, low energy or sleeping issues and many more challenges can be signs that something is not right. In that case, we advise you to seek professional help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

*This article is not meant to treat depression but to share a few helpful suggestions. If you feel that your symptoms of depression are not improving, we advise you to consult a doctor and / or mental health professional.

What act of self-care could you do today? Feel free to share your own tips below.

Vivian  Chiona


Vivian Chiona

Vivian Chiona is the founder and director of Expat Nest (, which provides emotional support to expats and their families through online counseling services. A bicultural, multilingual expat with family...

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mavrch 10:38 | 4 July 2018

Recommendations that are always accurate and to the point Vivian! Thank you!