It’s one of those days where everything seems to be going wrong. You flubbed a work presentation, spilled coffee down the front of your outfit, and completely spaced on your bestie’s birthday. During moments like these, wouldn’t it be great to have a cheerleading squad of sorts on hand to give you a boost when times get tough? Even though it doesn’t sound realistic, in fact, you can tap into yourself to be that ra-ra you need.
“Who doesn’t get low sometimes?” Elaine Beth Cohen, a life and wellness coach, says. “Everyone! It’s okay to feel down, it’s normal and common. It’s sometimes very necessary to allow these sincere feelings to exist, but there is a nuance here. There is a time that one needs to push past the down, disgruntled, frustrated, bummed experience and give yourself a good old-fashioned pep talk.”
Here’s how to do it.
Get the negative thoughts out of your mind
Before you can let the positive vibes in, it’s important to vanquish the bad ones, experts say. “There are so many ways to pop ourselves out of a ‘down state,’” Cohen says. “One of my favorites is writing. I call it the ‘dump,’ which is basically a full throttle purge of all of my thoughts and feelings with no editing or skimping on honesty. This is super helpful to get the feelings ‘out’ of your mind and onto paper or a document. Then a few hours later, return to the writing and analyze it with bravery whilst asking yourself, ‘is all of this true?’ and ‘where might I be exaggerating?’ This can really support your processing of what troubles you.”
Play some upbeat tunes
You may not be able to have a vent sesh with a friend every time something goes wrong during your day, but you can almost always listen to a peppy song that will turn things around. “It’s well documented that music shifts our emotions. If you don’t believe it, watch a horror movie with sound and then on mute,” Melinda Lane, energy intuitive and life coach, says. “A playlist of upbeat songs is a great way to shift your mood when you’re feeling grouchy or down. My favorite song for this is “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. It is unabashedly positive—exuberant, even. Is there any happier song? Make a list of every song you can think of that brightens your day or lifts your mood, or search happy song playlists on Spotify or iTunes. This is a great resource to have on hand for when you need to change your mood fast.”
Lotoya Charles, relationship and life coach at Clear Connections Coaching LLC, says affirmations can serve as a positive jolt during difficult moments. “I’ll either do it verbally or visually,” she says. “I see myself doing and having everything I want. If, for example, I’m going to do a presentation, I’ll [picture] myself making people smile and doing a really good job. This puts you in the right space. I truly believe we can kind of control our actions based on how we feel.” By either imagining yourself winning, or speaking out loud the positive outcome you want, Charles says, “you’re programming yourself for success.”
Keep tabs of your accomplishments
Whether you do it in a journal, in your head or in the Notes app on your phone, it’s good to hold on to reminders of the amazing things you have done. Charles recommends taking a trip down memory lane of something you’ve accomplished, which can lead to a positive shift in your mindset. “It’s so easy to forget the good stuff that we did and focus on the bad,” she says. Just know that it may take many more repetition of the good to wipe out the memory of the less-than-stellar in your mind, so feel free to refer back to your reminders as much as you need to.
Assess your expectations
If you feel that you’ve fallen short of some goal, it’s important to ask yourself, was it an imaginary benchmark that you set for yourself or that someone else set for you? “It’s really easy to confuse what we want versus the expectations of everyone around us,” Gabrielle Loehr, mental health and wellness expert, says. “Figure out what you want.” You may end up realizing that a “mess-up” is actually the byproduct of what someone else wants from you—not what you really want to accomplish, and therefore, not worth beating yourself up over.
Think of your favorite people
Another thing that can help when you need a boost is thinking of a role model—your mom, grandma, sister, aunt, favorite teacher, or boss—and model your behavior after theirs, Loehr suggests. If someone is a rock star, just by emulating them, you may tap into some swagger you didn’t even know you had.
Though the temptation to beat yourself up or criticize yourself may linger, think of a close relative or best pal. Would you talk to him that way? “Our internal critics are just ruthless,” Loehr says. “In that cycle of beating [yourself up], ask yourself, if this was my girlfriend, my sister, my mom, would I say the same thing? Force yourself to give yourself the same courtesy and respect that you give to others to yourself…The effort is worth it. Refusing to talk to yourself like that…is it going to work all the time? No, but it’s about trying.”