18 Mind-Brightening Actions to Combat Dreary Moods

Life isn’t always vibrant rainbows and blue crystal skies.

Dark clouds, hail storms, and the occasional tornado crop up in our minds. Exasperation, anxiety, melancholy, and other bad feelings strike us, often unexpectedly.

It’s important to recognize these states of mind as necessary. Without them, we wouldn’t appreciate the wonders of contentment, peace, and joy.

We should embrace harsh weather as a natural part of life, but we don’t have to wait idly for it to pass.

Instead of breaking out the cookies-and-cream ice cream and feeling sorry for ourselves, we can take positive action to revive our inner sunshine.

Sunshine Reflecting on Grass

Photo Credit: Meghan (Creative Commons)

18 Mind-Brightening Actions

1. Do things that have no downside.

This is crucial. Drinking causes hangovers and depression. Refusing sleep leads to fatigue and stress. Eating junk food diminishes our energy and makes us unhealthy.

When we’re already low, we must take actions with no negative effects. The items on this list are examples. Let these suggestions be a catalyst, a spark to give you direction and inspire more ideas.

2. Take a hot bath or shower.






A sizzling soak in the tub or a steamy shower is therapeutic and relaxing. I always feel less stressed and more clear-minded after immersing my body and mind in the liquid heat.

3. Leave home.

Sulking about your home solves nothing. Drive out into the country, visit a friend, go to the library. Change of scenery refreshes and stimulates us.

4. Cut out the caffeine.

Caffeine affects us all differently, so this one may be irrelevant for you. I know caffeine makes me anxious, so I avoid it in general, especially when I’m already not at 100%.

5. Sit quietly and relax.

Find a silent place to take a seat, close your eyes, and don’t move for 2-10 minutes. The goal is to direct your mind towards nothing at all. A motionless mind practice has wonderful calming effects.

Focus on your breathing. Imagine each inhalation fills you with water. Each exhalation drains it. Envision a peaceful landscape. Concentrate on your bodily sensations and the space your body is occupying.



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6. Get out in nature.

Go kayaking, fishing, camping, or take a walk in the park. Spending time in the world of trees, streams, and wildlife has been shown to ward off depression and reduce stress.

7. Absorb art with a positive message.

Read inspirational quotes about life. Listen to upbeat music with optimistic lyrics. Watch a feel-good movie. Art leaves footprints in the sands of our hearts. Just as negative art can trouble us, positive art can uplift us.

8. Tidy up your space.

A cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind. Pick up and organize, then keep it that way by cleaning up after yourself immediately and making sure everything has a place. Mindful cleaning can be a relaxing process.






9. Animal time.

Studies have proven the stress-reducing benefits of interaction with animals. If you have a cat or dog, pet, play with, walk, or cuddle him or her. If you don’t have a pet, go see a friend who does or head to the local shelter.

10. Actively appreciate.

Our minds absorb our everyday patterns of thought. If you’re often worried and cynical, your mind begins to repeat those processes. To overcome this, be intentional with appreciation.

Find time regularly to think about everything you’re lucky to have. Think of your good qualities, the people you love, and your situation in the big picture. Recording these in a gratitude journal helps too.

11. Talk to someone who cares.

We can’t always handle everything on our own. Some burdens are too heavy, and we need a shoulder to cry on. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a family member or close friend. It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for guidance.

12. Read a book.

Reading transports us to magical destinations and captivates our imagination. After losing myself in a novel for an hour or two, I feel relaxed and like I’ve accomplished something.

13. Go for a walk or run.

For me, the power of exercise to heal my body and mind is legendary. I have never finished exercising and not felt better than I did before. It’s that powerful, and it’s an infinite resource. Tap into it.

14. Eat a healthy meal.

What you eat has a strong correlation with how you feel. Unhealthy and artificial foods leave you feeling bloated and vaguely ill. Energize your body with whole grains, fruit, and vegetables when you’re in the pits.

15. Rest.

One of the most common reasons for negative emotions is physical weariness. Take a nap, get to bed early, call in sick for a day if you have to. It’s much easier to regain your cheer when your body is well-rested.

16. Go have good, clean fun.

Practice a sport. Go to a movie with some friends. Play a board game with your family. Good ol’ fashioned fun naturally alleviates our frustrations and takes our minds off worry.

17. Write.

Writing is a healthy release of stress. Jot down how you’re feeling. Acknowledge the negative. Journal about your day, write a poem, make a list of everything you appreciate, or scribble down some song lyrics. Write whatever comes most easily to you.

18. Dance.

Dance with reckless abandon. Go crazy. Do it in the privacy of your bedroom or in public. I do this at least once every week or two, and it’s an awesome release of inhibition.

A note on more serious conditions…

This list can give you what you need to break out of a slump, but sometimes taking a few positive actions is not the answer. If you repeatedly feel depressed, you may need to change destructive habits or seek professional help.

I hope this post has shown you a few defense techniques against life’s little punches. Remember: Foul weather is unavoidable in life. It is how we react in attitude and in action that makes all the difference.

So stay optimistic, appreciate, and channel the good vibrations. We’re all sailing the same voyage, and together, no amount of turbulence can stop us.

What other actions do you take when you’re feeling down or defeated?

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About Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates is a creator, entrepreneur, and perpetually curious autodidact interested in just about everything. He tweets a lot. He questions all the things. He makes unusual rap songs. He wanders the globe and writes about the most vitalizing, useful, and/or world-changing insights he happens upon. He dreams of a more compassionate, cooperative global community in which every human being’s basic needs are met and all sentient beings are respected. Befriend him and/or get his free eBook on how to exit the world of traditional work and live a radically free life. Amor fati, humans.

  • Carley Rose

    I really, really liked number 10. Actively Appreciate. I’m naturally an anxious person and that makes me think down on a lot of things, mostly annoyance that Its hard to kick that negative feeling…but anyways, actively appreciating things in order to change your thought process is extremely valid advice. And it does help, you can actually physically feel your body feel lighter when you’re thinking positive. A good thing I just started doing that really helps set the mood for a day, is with my first step out of bed in the morning I say “thank” and second step “you” . It reminds me to be thankful for all the good things in my life. Nicely done :).

    • Jordan Bates

      Definitely! And wow, “thank. you.” as two words to accompany your first two steps out of bed in the morning sounds like a simple way to remember that no day is guaranteed. I’m going to try to start using that! Glad you liked the post, Carley. 🙂