7 Gentle Ways To Lift Your Spirit When You Need It

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7 Gentle Ways To Lift Your Spirit When You Need It Title card. In the background a woman holds a scarf up and allows it to be lifted by the wind.

Hello Sweet Friend:

Do you ever find yourself feeling down in the dumps? Like things just aren’t quite as bright and shiny as they were yesterday?

Totally, right? It happens to all of us! For so many different reasons.

Whether you’re working through something or just woke up in a funk, it can be really hard and disheartening to deal with a deflated spirit.

But there are gentle ways to lift your spirit back up and boost your mood.

And today we’re going to explore 7 easy options together.

So grab a cozy blanket and get comfy. Let’s talk about simple ways to help yourself feel better when you need it.

1. Allow Yourself To Experience Your Feelings

A woman sits on the floor and rests her head on the couch. She holds onto a phone and stares down at it. She appears sad.

There’s this incredible love affair with positive feelings. We even have a hashtag for it – #GoodVibesOnly, baby! And who can blame us? I’m certainly enamored with joy. And I imagine you are too!

But, here’s the thing… ‘Good vibes only’ doesn’t work. It isn’t real. Negative feelings will come up for you, no matter how positive your mindset.

And that’s ok.

While it may feel very counter-intuitive, it’s very important that you allow yourself to work through negative feelings when they arrive.

It can be scary sometimes to really allow yourself to unpack your feelings. But I promise that they aren’t there with plans to take over. They just need to pass through. And sitting with them can be the first step towards letting them pass.

A man stands outside and leans against a storefront. He holds his face and cries. An umbrella sits open on the ground beside him.

David Kessler, the co-author of On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss and founder of grief.com, has this to say about allowing your feelings to move through you:

“Sometimes we try not to feel what we’re feeling because we have this image of a ‘gang of feelings.’ If I feel sad and let that in, it’ll never go away. The gang of bad feelings will overrun me. The truth is a feeling that moves through us. We feel it and it goes and then we go to the next feeling. There’s no gang out to get us.” (source)

So feel those feelings without judgement, so you can work on moving forward and lifting your spirit up. Really understanding how you’re feeling and where those feelings are coming from gives you the opportunity to nurture your feelings and move forward in a healing way.

Know that it’s completely normal and valid for negative emotions to arrive. Life has it’s ups and downs. You’re doing a great job, even when you’re dealing with the down parts.

Related: How To Tap Into The Power of Positive Thinking

2. Reach Out To Your Support System

A woman holds a cell phone up to her ear and looks off to the side.

An ear or a shoulder can go a long way. Emotional and social support are invaluable and can truly help you bunches in times of stress.

Think back to the last time you received support from a loved one. Did it lift your spirit? Heck yes, right?! A heart to heart with one of your people just plain leaves you feeling good.

Even better, venting, talking about your feelings and experiences and getting help can be positive ways to allow those feelings to move through you.

But don’t just take my word for it.

A couple hug and the woman facing the camera makes her hands into the shape of a heart while her partner, who's back is to the camera, makes a peace sign over her head.

Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist, personally views reaching out as a great way to relieve stress:

“My most effective stress relief comes from speaking with friends, but only the ones I know have my best interests at heart. They are great listeners, supportive, and almost always come up with strategies to cope with the stressor or, at the least, put it in perspective for me. If nothing else, they point me in a better, less stressful direction.” (source)

Your emotional support network can include friends, family, coworkers… basically anyone you feel safe and comfortable speaking with.

Talking to a therapist is a wonderful option too.

Two women sit together at a desk. One holds up a book and points to it as they talk.

Therapists create a safe space free from judgement. Everything is confidential. And the relationship is unique to your own personal needs. Sometimes that unbiased perspective is everything.

Philip J. Rosenbaum, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and is the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Haverford College, puts it this way:

“Therapists engage with their clients’ lives without becoming a daily part of it. Well-defined boundaries allow therapists the perspective from which to observe behaviors that friends who are involved in a client’s life may be too close to see.” (source)

Two men sit together at a table outside and talk.

My therapist taught me coping mechanisms that have continued to help me for years. The experience can be incredibly valuable! So don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor or therapist if that feels like the right direction for you.

If you are in crisis and need help right now, here are some global resources that can be there for you immediately.

You don’t have to go it alone. When thing feel heavy it can sometimes take a few extra hands to help lift your spirit back up. Reach out when you need to. You deserve help and love as much as everyone else.

Related: How To Reduce Stress – 6 Fantastic Tips From Psychiatrists

3. Reflect On The Good

A journal that says "Today I Am Grateful" sits on a white table. There is a pen ready on top of it and a fern decorating the background. Practicing gratitude may help to lift your spirit

Positive thinking is more than just lovely, it actually affects your mindset. For real! Exposing yourself to things that uplift you and thinking about the positive helps your mind see more possibilities. Yowza! That’s so freaking cool! (source)

Taking a moment or two to focus on the good, especially when you’re feeling down, can be magnificently uplifting.

(As long as you know that it’s ok to acknowledge, focus on and work through the tough feelings too.)

A cup of coffee and some macarons sits on a wood plant. There are green plants decorating the background and a note that says "Enjoy The Little Things." Reflecting on the good little things may help to lift your spirit

How can you reflect on the good? There are tons of options! Including:

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how you go about it. If something helps you focus on the goodness around you, make time for it. It will lift your spirit right up!

Related: How To Tap Into The Power of Positive Thinking

4. Try Positive Affirmations

A quote on the pavement that says "I believe in you. Believe in yourself! Be positive. Mile Holmes." Positive affirmations may help to lift your spirit

Positive mantras and affirmations are meant to give your mindset a boost and lift your spirit. They don’t work for everyone but, when they do work, they can provide quite the powerful boost.

If you want to give them a go and see if they’re right for you there are a few ways to potentially get a bit more out of them.

Let’s take a peek at how to get the most out of positive affirmations:

  1. Choose a Believable Affirmation – Going too extreme can backfire, since you’re not likely to believe in it.
  2. Try it in Third Person – There’s some science that shows that third person affirmations can be more successful. Bonus points if you add your name to the affirmation, since it will create some self-distancing. This lets you take a step back and observe things like an you would when listening and talking to a friend. Since we can often kinder and more patient with friends than we are with ourselves, self-distancing is a powerful tool. It can also kick negative self-talk right in the butt!
  3. Create Personal Affirmations – What makes sense for me might not be right for you. Come up with affirmations that you find uplifting and joyful. Whatever feels right is best!

Related: 3 Things Everyone Should Know About Positive Affirmations

5. Tap Into Joyful Movement

A woman throws her arms up in the air and smiles with so much joy as glitter rains down on her. Joyful movement is a great way to lift your spirit.

If you’re feeling up for it, exercise can really help to boost your mood. But it’s even better when you make it fun and indulge in a form of movement that brings you joy.

Choose something that you really like. It doesn’t matter exactly what it is. Yoga, strength training, walking or just shaking that booty to your favourite jams are all valid forms of movement. As is anything else that may come to mind.

Whatever gets that beautiful body moving and makes you happy is worth it. Joyful movement can do so much for your physical and mental well-being.

A woman jumps into the water. Her hands are up and her toes are pointed as if she is dancing. Joyful movement is a great way to lift your spirit.

Studies actually show that the marvelous mood boosting benefits of exercise can shine through, no matter what form of movement you choose. And intensity doesn’t matter either! It’s ability to boost your mood is still there, whether you’re working it hardcore or enjoying something more gentle. (source 1, source 2)

How exactly does working your beautiful body lift your spirit? Exercise has been shown to positively affect your mood and reduce stress. (source)

One way it manages to do this is by boosting the production of feel-good endorphins, which not only make us feel more positive but also reduce pain perception! Pretty cool, right? (source)

So, if you’re feeling up for it, work it honey!

Related: 8 Super Benefits of Exercise and How to Make it Fun

6. Take Some Slow, Deep Breaths

A letterboard says "And breathe..." It's decorated with orange and white flowers. Deep breathing is a great way to lift your spirit.

Intentional deep breathing might sound too simple to be impactful, but daaaaammmmnnn is it ever powerful.

Essentially, deep, belly breathing elicits a relaxation response. And all you need to do is breath in deeply and slowly through your nose, filling your lungs and making your belly rise.

It can feel really unnatural at first. Especially since diet culture has made many of us feel as if our tummy should be flat, many of us tend to suck in our tummies and take shallow breaths.

But, according to Harvard Health Publishing, shallow breathing actually increases tension and anxiety.

A woman holds her hand to her chest and sits with her eyes closed, as if she is taking intentional breaths and enjoying a moment of mindfulness. Deep intentional breathing is a great way to lift your spirit.

Also – all tummies are beautiful, all the time. Whether they’re flat or round, bloated or toned.

There’s A LOT to dismantle when it comes to diet culture and fatphobia. Let’s take a step forward today by working to release that tummy tension. Let yourself breath deeply and fully when you need to. It can help to reduce stress, create a sense of calm, slow your heart rate and lower or stabilize your blood pressure. And it won’t remove any of your beauty or value, I promise. (source)

A woman stands outside in a field and raises her head up to the sky, as if enjoying a moment of mindfulness.

You can try deep breathing all on it’s own, or, if you prefer, combine it with something else like meditation or yoga. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

Want to give deep breathing a try? Simply:

  1. Find a comfy, relaxing space
  2. Start intentionally belly breathing – in slowly through your nose, until your chest and tummy rise as your lungs fill with air. Then breath out slowly (through your mouth or your nose, whatever feels best).

You can do this for five simple breaths or for five minutes. Whatever feels best. Sometimes even one simple, intentional breath can make a huge difference and lift your spirit up.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Need To Try Mindfulness Meditation

7. Write Yourself a Love Letter

Someone's hand pauses abow a black page. They are holding a pen, as if ready to write. Writing yourself a love letter is a great way to lift your spirit.

Everyone loves an uplifting note, kind card or a sweet text. It’s just plain nice to hear that someone loves and cares for you.

And it’s just as nice when you take the time to remind yourself that you also love and care you. Plus, you can sprinkle in all those awesome qualities you adorable about yourself and the things that make you proud.

There is power in nourishing and prioritizing your relationship with yourself.

Someone writes the words "You are loved" on a paper bag.

Whether it be a short and sweet note focused on a couple of things you’re proud of, or a few pages about how incredibly awesome you are, it will lift you up.

Plus, we’ve already talked about how self-distancing and talking to yourself in the third person can be a huge help. When writing a letter to yourself, the self-distancing might let you look at your own qualities more objectively, like an outsider. Research suggest that this helps you recognize qualities within yourself that you may not otherwise notice. (source)

Not only can this lift your spirit right up, it may also help strengthen your relationship with yourself and boost your self-esteem. Self-love always goes a long way. So any activity that nurtures a powerful self-relationship is absolutely golden.

Related: How To Make ‘Self-Partnered’ Your Awesome New Relationship Status

8. Take Care Of Yourself Your Way

Someone sits in a bathtub and reads a book.

Ultimately, whatever actions or activities lift you up and bring you joy matter.

When it comes to self-care, there really are no rules. And there is no one size fits all either. It’s just about responding to your own personal needs and prioritizing what works best for you.

So if something always lifts you up, or if it feels right in the moment, go for it. Even if it isn’t on this list. You know yourself and what works for you best. Do whatever feels right.

A woman wraps herself up in a blank and smiles.

Know that taking care of yourself in whatever way makes sense for you is marvelous. When you take care of yourself, you also connect with yourself. And a better connection with yourself helps you to prioritize the self-care that works best for you. It’s a beautiful cycle that lets you become present for yourself when you need it most.

What lifts your spirit when you’re feeling down? Anything from this list you’d love to try? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

Health and love,

sara-signature

Thought of the day: Self-care is always a worthy investment of your time.

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Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

Sara Flanagan is a wellness writer and the creator of www.mshealthesteem.com, where she shares her story of being diagnosed with Graves Disease, a chronic autoimmune disease, and empowering herself to do everything she can to thrive in spite of her diagnosis. She writes articles on self-love, acceptance, wellness and nutrition. Join the Health-Esteem Family today and share in the journey.

25 Comments

  1. Reply

    Brianne

    July 2, 2020

    I love this so much. I think the first thing you pointed out is the most important. Good vibes only is a total sham. People think something is wrong if they “give in” to negative feelings. Incorrect!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      Right?! I’m so happy you think so too Brianne. We can’t be happy 100% of the time. And allowing ourselves to experience and work through those negative feelings that pop up is the only way to move forward in a healthy way. I think it’s so important we feel safe and empowered to do that. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts <3

  2. Reply

    Christine Weis

    July 2, 2020

    I think it’s so important recognize, understand and accept your feelings. Sometimes you just have to be comfortable with uncomfortable feelings. It’s part of life and learning. Surrounding yourself with positive people and practicing self care really does help.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      That’s a great point Christine! Thank you so much for sharing. We really do need to work through those uncomfortable feelings when they come up when they come up too. Feelings all have a purpose, including the negative ones. And, like you said, they’re part of life and really do help us learn and move forward. I love that you shared this goodness <3.

  3. Reply

    TheSuperMomLife

    July 2, 2020

    I’m bookmarking this for when I have a bad day. These are exactly the tips I need when my spirits are down.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      I’m really happy to hear that! I hope they help you next time you need a gentle boost. Sending tons of love your way <3

  4. Reply

    Gervin Khan

    July 3, 2020

    Wow, these are definitely a great tips. It is so important to have a good support system that always there to listen and to give you an advice for all the things that you are going through.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      I think so too Gervin – outside support is absolutely invaluable and such a big help when we’re struggling. I’m really happy this resonated with you too 🙂

  5. Reply

    Marie

    July 3, 2020

    The world is such a hard place to live in right now. And for those that already struggle with negative feelings it is even tougher. Your advice is perfect for all of us. And we need to be doing these things daily to stay ahead of the negative feelings! I especially like the tips about breathing and taking care of yourself.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      I’m really happy these ideas are helpful Marie! Thank you! We all need and deserve more love, support and kindness as we navigate this difficult time, especially those who are struggling the most <3

  6. Reply

    The JOYOUS Living | Influencer (@thejoyousliving)

    July 3, 2020

    i completely agree about reaching out to your network. the other day i was feeling low and being able to reach out to my bffs really made a big difference.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      Thank goodness for good friends, eh? I’m so glad your besties were able to help you through. Support always goes a long we, and we all need and deserve it when times get tough. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I hope you’re feeling much better <3

  7. Reply

    WritesandBlogs

    July 3, 2020

    Very good tips, in fact these are much needed at this moment when we are almost locked indoors due to this pandemic.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      I’m so happy they resonated with you! I’ve definitely needed to be extra gentle with myself these days and I know I’m not the only one. These are hard times. We all deserve to feel loved and supported as we navigate the pandemic.

  8. Reply

    emman damian

    July 3, 2020

    I’m a very emotional person. I usually let it all out. It helps that I let it all out so I won’t have a bad feeling after.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      I can truly relate to that Emman! I’m a heart on my sleeve kind of person too. Experiencing and working through your emotions really does help you to move forward and feel better. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences and what helps for you! 🙂

  9. Reply

    Lily

    July 4, 2020

    I felt a little down in this pandemic a few months ago. I just had to do things to put me in a more joyful mood and my support system helped,

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      I’m really glad your support system was there to help you through it Lily! We all need and deserve that when we’re struggling. I hope that you’re feeling better these days <3

  10. Reply

    Ntensibe Edgar Michael

    July 6, 2020

    “Allow Yourself To Experience Your Feelings”….this is it, above everything else!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      I’m so happy you think so too Ntensibe! I believe that it’s important we feel empowered to experience and work through our feelings when we need to, safely and gently. We all deserve that, for the sake of our mental and physical well-being.

  11. Reply

    Anuradha

    July 6, 2020

    Loved the first point, which we all often surpass! To me, If I am feeling a little low, I go with the flow and take one thing at a time, and not be bothered with accomplishing everything on the same day. Plus I focus on releasing the energy through yoga, which helps a great deal from inside!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      July 8, 2020

      Those are beautiful ideas for lifting your spirit up when you need it! Thank you so much for sharing Anuradha! I think it’s wonderful that you indulge in gentle self-care when you need it. It’s a wonderful thing! We all deserve that kind of awesome relationship with ourselves 🙂

  12. Reply

    Lychia Bossano

    August 23, 2020

    Lots of interesting and inspiring ideas! For example, write yourself a letter. I’ll try, I’m wondering what will come of it … Thanks!

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