1. Resist the urge to “treat” yourself. Often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day. So when you find yourself thinking, “I’ll feel better after I have a few beers…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans,” ask yourself – will it REALLY make you feel better? It might make you feel worse.
2. Do something nice for someone else. “Do good, feel good” – this really works. A friend going through a horrible period told me that she was practically addicted to doing good deeds; that was the only thing that made her feel better. However, don’t put too much pressure on yourself now. Don’t start planning an elaborate surprise party; email some digital photos to the grandparents.
3. Seek inner peace through outer order. Soothe yourself by tackling a messy closet, an untidy desk, or crowded countertops. The sense of tangible progress, control, and orderliness will lighten your mood. This always works for me – and fortunately, my family is messy enough that I always have plenty of therapeutic clutter at hand.
4. Tell yourself, “Well, at least I…” Get some things accomplished. Yes, you had a horrible day, but at least you went to the gym, or played with your kids, or walked the dog, or read a magazine.
5. Exercise is an extremely effective mood booster – but be careful of exercise that allows you to ruminate. For example, if I go for a walk when I’m upset about something, I often end up feeling worse, because the walk provides me with uninterrupted time in which to dwell obsessively on my troubles.