A 4-Step, Airtight Plan To Feel Better

Want to feel better? Getting out of a slump, getting past a bad mood, almost anything can be cure (at least temporarily) with these 4 steps >> yesandyes.org
We all go through rough spots.

We didn’t get into that school.
They hired someone else.
The repairs are going to cost more than we expected.
That cutie isn’t returning our texts.

Just like everyone else, I’ve had bumps in my proverbial road. I didn’t get into the first graduate school I applied to. I’ve been laid off. I’ve been dumped. I have made very, very questionable decisions about my hair.
After many a struggle,  I’ve developed a (nearly) fool proof plan to feel better when I’m down in the dumps.

4 steps to feel better

Step 1: Get sweaty for an hour

Run stairs. Have a one-person dance party. Weed the garden. Ride your bike. Have a roll in the hay with your lovah. Do something physical and strenuous.

Step 2: Get wet 

Water heals me. Take a long shower (and maybe have a good cry – crying doesn’t count in the shower!) Go swimming in a lake/pool/river/the ocean. Have a long soak in your tub accompanied by some Morcheeba.

Step 3: Take a nap 

Like, a proper one. Under the covers, no jeans, curtains closed.

Step 4: Consume some caffeine 

Life feels better and happier when I’m caffeinated.

I’m not sure why this particular series of things makes me feel so much better. Life (and all the challenges that that occasionally accompany it) seems so much nicer when I’ve got endorphins in my veins and I’m clean, rested, and have a latte in hand.

Do you have a few specific things you do when you feel down? I mean, in addition to drinking wine out of a robot mug and watching Ron Swanson clips on Youtube, HYPOTHETICALLY.

P.S. If you need 1-on-1 support and accountability around feeling better, I can do that!
photo by pineapples // cc

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  1. Arlina

    those are my top 4 go to moves too!!
    I also have playlists on my ipod labelled ^ (as in brings me up – lots of very dance inducing tunes) and 🙂 (as in songs that make me smile – a bit more mellow than ^).
    And years and years ago I had a therapist who got me to create a "ONE DAY MOPING" rule – for those times when you just cant deal and need to be sooky and stay in bed, im allowed to have one day to wallow and the next day i have to get my butt outta bed and deal with it. And it works, gets it out of my system and gives me space to think without letting me fall into a rut.

  2. maggiebolson

    SWEAT. Every time. Running cures everything.

    Also: cooking. I especially love risotto, because it's involved and takes up to half an hour. It takes my mind off whatever and I wind up with a meal that is delicious, healthy, and deceptively mac-and-cheesy with that creamy texture. Healthy comfort food! Perfect.

    That or I make cookies. I make sure to sample a few for poison before bringing the whole batch into work and sharing. Bringing a little joy to others brings a lot of joy to me!

  3. bonvivantsandvagabonds

    Great list! Going to the movies always cheers me up, particulary if it involves a cheesy comedy and sour patch kids. A little indulgence to pamper myself like a mani/pedi also does the trick.

  4. Anonymous

    I like going to the library and coming home with more books than I can possibly read. Books that I've heard good things about or some bona fide chick lit trash never cease to make me feel excited.

    I also find getting out of the house is key. Whether it be for a run, a stroll, or a coffee with a friend, it's best to trade cutting my split ends and mulling on my couch for some fresh air and a change of scenery.

    Your steps definitely make my list as well. I'm a huge proponent of naps.

  5. melanie

    Crying doesn't count in the shower…Sarah, you're awesome! (Also, I agree, but I'll also double down and say crying doesn't count if your face is already wet — out in the rain, swimming, in the bath…– or if you're cutting onions.)

    Walking (or running) and cooking are my usual go-to fixes when I'm feeling manageably crappy. And a cup of tea really is magic.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      You're absolutely right! Wet face = not crying! 😀

    • Noelle

      SO TRUE. Crying absolutely doesn't count in the shower or when your face is already wet.

  6. SarahE

    I have a hard time remembering my strategies when I need them, but if I'm doing a good job-

    1. Put music on immediately upon walking into the house, for any length of time.
    2. Get out of the house- errands don't count. I need walk somewhere or set up camp in a coffee shop, something.
    3. Definitely exercise helps.
    4. If I really need to wallow, put on an episode of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai and Rory are struggling (season 4, The Incredible Sinking Lorelais, to be exact), then follow with a happy episode.

    • MidwestDrawl

      I'll watch an episode of Gilmore Girls when I'm feeling blue, too! IN THE SAME ORDER! That episode or season 5's "Say Something" or season 5's "A House is Not a Home," then something fun. Ugh that show. Left us too soon!

  7. D

    I either play roller derby or I put on a Jane Austen movie. If it is real bad, I make cookies, or some other baked good. And can I just say how happy I am that you linked to Morcheeba?! They have been one of my favorite bands since like, 2005. So. Good.

  8. Kait

    Happy music always forces me to smile, and that helps me get the motivation to start doing other things that make me feel better:

    1. Doing something creative with my hands (like crafting, drawing, or cooking) engages my mind and gives me something great to think about

    2. Moving my body! There's a reason everyone lists this one… because it works!

    3. Being around others. Whether it's friends, cute animals, or strangers at the park, it's hard to be sad when there are so many other lovely beings around you.

  9. Jamie

    That is almost identical to my own plan.

    There is almost nothing that exercise, a shower, sleep, and a good meal won't make at least a little bit better.

  10. Vanessa, Take only Memories

    I'm totally with you on the water and the nap. Should try being active. Coffee is nice but I don't like to reward myself with food…I get so addicted to that kind of thing!

  11. T.

    I don't have a plan for when I feel depressed, but the following things have helped me before:
    – get dressed in a nice outfit and get out of the house
    – write down your thoughts and feelings
    – drive in your car and put some music on very loud, (nobody can hear you singing)
    – treat yourself to something nice and unneccessary but inexpensive, like icecream, a new nailpolish, etc.

    And I totally agree with you about the swimming and the coffee!!

  12. Anonymous

    Thank you for this! Great, concrete ideas.

  13. Girliest Nerd

    Those are all great and I would add: do something for someone else who needs it. Get involved in charities and outreach programs. Or if you don't have the time to volunteer I think informing yourself of important social issues and then donating a bit toward a good cause can go a long way.

    I only give $10 to 3 different charities (Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children) a month because it's all I can afford but at least it's better than nothing.

    In short… remind yourself we're lucky to have food, shelter and access to health care and the other stuff doesn't seem so big.

  14. Unknown

    thank you, sarah! i'll try step number 1 right now! kisses from your friend fernanda from rio grande-rs-brazil! missing you always!

    • Unknown

      <3 don't forget: we'll meet again soon!!! 😉

  15. eileen ragan | leaner by the lake

    Sweating it out recently went from #1 most feared/awful thing to #1 best thing ever in my life. It's my ultimate stress reliever, work it out, get some alone time, pump up the heart rate go-to. In a recent essay I wrote about this (http://leanerbythelake.com/pounding-the-pavement/), I found that when I'm running I’m sure of it that there’s no other place where I’ve felt so strong, so determined, so free, so much myself. It's happiness.


  16. Tami - Teacher Goes Back to School

    I always set up a phone date with my biggest cheerleader friends from elementary school. It's always nice to talk to someone who knows every back story and so I can just move on to what is happening and don't have to fill someone in.

    Big surprise: I go to yoga. Sometimes for the people/company, sometimes for the moving of the body, sometimes for the relative quiet.

    Walking, walking, walking.

    Your numbers 1-3 are pretty much no-brainers for me too.

    Coffee? Not so much. Blech.

  17. Nikkiana

    Ha! So agree that crying doesn't count in the shower. 🙂

  18. Sophie | Spark Your Self

    1. Order pizza. Extra cheese. AND garlic bread.

    2. Sit on the couch with blankets and eat said pizza + garlic bread.

    3. Watch a trashy movie (or a Woody Allen film if I'm feeling a little bit fancy).

  19. Jenn Rowell

    This is a great list! I definitely go for a run when I'm stressed or upset or angry, especially when I'm frustrated. Last fall I was so outraged about things going on at work, I went out for a 3 mile run and ended up doing six. Then I quit that job, drank some wine and booked a flight to Chile.

    My number one solution to feeling down is leaving the country, or going out of town or just exploring somewhere new when I can't afford an international trip. It's hard to feel bad about your life when you see the beauty in everything around you, or in the case of some of my international trips, see how good you really, truly have it at home.

    For the every day blues, I cuddle with my puppy. Sometimes he gets it and will cuddle back, other times he gives me the "mom I wanna play" face. But, puppies really do make everything better.

    And there's always wine.

  20. Kaisa

    Latte!! And one person dance party is my fave thing ever! And biking and all. I am not good at napping. Though I try to change that 'cos lately I have been feeling like quality napping could improve my life.

  21. Katy

    Suffering from horrible bouts of depression, I can definitely say all these steps help me be happier. I've made it a routine to exercise in the morning, give myself permission to take a warm shower or nap when my brain is in 'defeatist mode', and some days have a hot cup of coffee in the afternoon. Great list!!

  22. Vanessa

    These steps all work for me (if you replace the word "coffee" with "tea")
    I also find journalling really helpful. Once I've gotten the messy tangle of thoughts out of my brain and onto paper, I feel much calmer.

  23. Anonymous

    Great ideas! I have a list of my own, which includes:
    -Going for a long, long drive to nowhere in particular
    -Walking through Whole Foods and sampling the guacamole and smelling the pretty soaps 😛
    -If I'm in the mood, I'll see a movie in theaters by myself during the day
    -Looking around the flower store, especially in winter

  24. cantaloupe

    Once I was super pissed off at the world and everything was terrible and I felt like I could do nothing to make anything better and oh the darkness! And then I was forced by circumstance to walk for over a mile in the heat to accomplish one little task.

    But when I had finished, sweaty and exhausted, I felt great. Endorphins, man. They'll do it.

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