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  • Writer's pictureLiz Vines

How to Feel Better Right Now

Updated: May 15

Whether you're dealing with trauma, anxiety, depression, grief, or simply going through a difficult moment in your day, it can make all the difference to have a few tools to help you feel better in the moment. Here are some options to try:

Breathe: Let your exhale be twice as long as your inhale. It doesn't matter how long or short your inhale is, as long as your exhale is about twice as long as your inhale. This sends a message to your nervous system to shift into a parasympathetic state.

Focus: Think of 3-5 (or more) things that are going well or feel good right now. This can be anything: did you have a nice conversation with someone the other day? Are you liking a new book? Did your kid just accomplish something that was difficult? Did you see a fantastic dog on the street? Can you look out a window and see a nice piece of nature? As you go through this list, take the time to really feel each of these in your body. Look for pleasant sensations and see if they grow as you focus on them.

Reach Out: Call a trusted friend or go for a hike with a coworker. If reaching out to a specific person feels like too much right now, consider being in a public place with a manageable amount of people.This could be a coffee shop, a well loved trail, a bookstore, or maybe just strolling down the streets of your downtown area. Social engagement can be helpful in nervous system regulation, and doing something that feels outside of the norm can help with the monotony of depression.

Break Things Up: If it feels impossible to get through everything (or anything today), break things up into manageable chunks. If you can't imagine how you could get yourself ready to leave the house, focus on one thing at a time - grab yourself some kind of easy food that will sustain you for a while. Nothing has to be perfect here, just something that will get you by for a few hours and ideally not spike your blood sugar too much. Once that task is done, notice if you feel any more grounded. You might not, and that is ok. Congratulate yourself on each small task. Move on to brushing your teeth, and if this is more than you did yesterday, give yourself credit for already doing a bit more to take care of yourself than you did the day before. Continue on like this just doing your best with each task. Today is not about perfection.

Do a Kind Thing For Someone Else: This can be a small thing. Even smiling and holding the door open for a stranger at a gas station can do a lot. Focusing on someone else will take the intensity off of your own experience, and yes, there is a lot of research that says that smiling - even if you don't feel like it - sends feel good messages to the brain. You also might try writing a good old fashioned hand written letter to a friend, or bringing a coworker a small inexpensive treat.

Move Your Body: I'm sure you know it, but it's worth saying again: exercise does so much for stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, and momentary bad moods. Try to make it something that you find fun that gets your heart pumping. If that's not available to you or you just really don't want to, try squeezing and releasing each muscle in your body. This does a lot to boost circulation and gets things moving. It's also the advice that you will find in Emily and Amelia Nagoski's fantastic book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.

Turn to Nature: If possible get outside, breathe fresh air, and enjoy something beautiful in the natural world. If this is not possible, research says that even looking at a fake plant for just a few minute can reduce stress hormones. You can always give yourself a momentary break by looking up beautiful pictures of nature. If you'd prefer to go tech free, close your eyes for 5 minutes and imagine yourself in a beautiful place. Take time to explore how the air feels, what the sky looks like, what you hear and what you feel as you imagine sinking your feet into your imagined paradise. Go slow and give yourself a chance to really explore with your senses.

In addition to these practices, getting therapy for anxiety and/or trauma can be helpful. Reach out for a free 20 minute phone call to discuss your specific situation and what you'd like support with.




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