This is a list of activities that may help you to cheer yourself up when you are feeling upset. These have all worked for me, but of course some may work better than others for different people, and in different situations. I hope there is something in this list that you will find useful!
Go for a walk or a run
Sometimes, simply being outside in nature can be enough to raise your spirits. It makes you feel more connected to the Earth as a whole, and less immersed in your current problems. Brisk walking or running can be especially helpful because of the benefits of physical exercise on mental health. I read a great book on this subject called ‘Spark: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain’ which is worth checking out.
Put on some music and dance around
Any kind of physical activity is great for mental health, but I find that dancing to music is especially mood-lifting. Make sure to choose cheerful songs that have positive and motivating lyrics.
Tidy, clear out and organise your space
I find that having a clear out is like a metaphor for clearing out negative thoughts and emotions. Once I start tidying and clearing, I often get immersed in it and it provides a great sense of accomplishment as well as a distraction from my troubles.
Bust through as many short, simple tasks from your to-do list as you can
When you have a lot on your mind, it is sometimes difficult to knuckle down and work on the most important, time consuming tasks, or those that require a lot of brain power. Instead, make a list of easy, practical tasks that you have been meaning to do, such as laundry, tidying your desk, repotting a plant, paying a bill and replying to an email. Bust through those tasks as quickly and efficiently as you can. This will build up momentum and give you a sense of accomplishment. It also means that those little tasks will not be weighing on your mind when you do get round to tackling the more important tasks.
Sort out a different problem
If something has been getting you down, turn your attention to a different area of your life that needs work. By solving another problem, you will take pressure off yourself and know that you are improving your life in some way, even if you can’t do anything right now about the thing that is upsetting you.
Use happy body language
You can trick yourself into feeling happier by adopting happy body language. Sit up tall, and put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. You may soon find that your smile becomes real! If you are walking around (and perhaps not in public view), try skipping! Not the sort with a rope (although that’s good for you too) but the way that children skip along. It may seem like the simplest thing, but there is something about skipping that is so joyful!
Do a good deed (or several)
Doing kind and helpful things for others is a great way to help you feel better about yourself. By doing a good deed that you wouldn’t normally have done, without expecting anything in return, you will create something good out of the negative situation you are in. This can dull the pain you are experiencing, because you will know that you have made somebody else’s life a little bit better or easier, which might not have happened otherwise.
Write a poem, story or blog post, paint a picture, bake a cake or take a photoshoot. You can take inspiration from your current life situation, or not. Either way, creating something that you can be proud of is a way to make something good come out of your situation. It also provides an outlet for your emotions, and a distraction from them.
Give yourself a makeover
Retail therapy is not always the most sustainable activity, depending on where you shop, but there is no doubt that it can cheer you up! It can also make you feel like a new person, having a fresh start. Head to the shops (charity shops count!), have fun finding an awesome outfit and treat yourself. Get a haircut, a manicure, do your make-up or anything else that makes you feel good. Go out (or stay in) and rock your new look! Real beauty comes from within, but for many of us, knowing we look good on the outside can boost our confidence and make us feel better on the inside too.
Watch a YouTube video by someone you find inspiring
I have subscribed to a few channels on YouTube that post positive and uplifting videos. When I am feeling down, I often find that it helps me to watch a video from one of those channels. I usually do this whilst I am eating a meal or doing a practical task because then I feel as though I am getting something done at the same time as getting a boost of inspiration.
Talk to a friend who is good at cheering you up
If you have a friend that you can talk about your problems with, then that is great. But even if not, or if you don’t want to discuss your problems directly, talk to a friend who you can have a laugh with! One thing that works for me is to video call a friend on Facebook Messenger, where there are a selection of silly filters and games to play around with. Take goofy selfies of each other, and play a hilarious game – it’s bound to take your mind off things. This is especially great if you don’t feel like talking much, because by playing games you don’t have to actually talk! You can just laugh and play. They say laughter is the best medicine!
Of course, you can meet your friend in person if you prefer!
Go to the cinema and watch a comedy
Cinema is great for taking your mind off things, as it transports you into someone else’s story for a while. Go with someone you like spending time with, and choose a happy or funny film that will make you laugh!
Fill in a gratitude journal
No matter what is happening in your life, there are always things to be grateful for. Take the time to write down as many things as you can think of. This will help you to remember and focus on the good things in your life, and to realise that things are not all bad.
In my gratitude journal, I also write down things that I am proud of, and things that I have learned. Writing down my achievements and victories, big and small, helps me to remember that I am making steps in the right direction, and to recognise the good things that I do. Writing down things that I have learned helps me to grow from my mistakes and avoid them in the future. This makes me feel better about my mistakes because they will ultimately strengthen me. You can read more about my gratitude journal here: Grateful, Proud and Always Learning.
Visualise a positive outcome
Whatever the situation that has made you upset, with very few exceptions, there is the possibility of a positive outcome or interpretation from it. Think of the best possible way that the situation could turn out (or several different good ways), and visualise that outcome or interpretation in your mind. Don’t allow yourself to think through negative outcomes, because that is likely to make you feel worse, which is pointless because there is no guarantee that a negative outcome will happen.
If the situation is within your control, do everything in your power to make the positive outcome happen. If it is outside your control, do your best to keep on visualising and believing in the positive outcome. This will at least put you into a happier state of mind in the present. That way, you will be better mentally equipped to deal with any outcome. You may even find that your problems just melt away when you look at them differently!
How do you cheer yourself up?
Do you have any particular activities that help you to cheer yourself up when you are upset? If so, I would love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments.