Self-Care For Bad Days – 8 Ideas To Help You Feel Better

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Self-Care For Bad Days - 8 Ideas To Help You Feel Better Title Image. In the background a woman is wearing casual white t-shirt over isolated yellow background hugging herself

Hiya Sweet Friends:

Feeling like junk? Carrying the weight of some heavy emotions? Feeling stressed and overwhelmed from a long day?

Sounds like you’ve had a bad day. 

Unfortunately, bad days happen. And when they find you it’s important that you know that…

You are allowed to experience negative emotions. Seeking support is awesome. And you deserve to have some wicked self-soothing activities up your sleeve.

I can’t make the bad day go away – but I can give you some tools to help you be present for yourself while you work through it. Let’s fill those sleeves with comforting self-care…

Self-Care Inspiration

This beautiful list was inspired by one of my Instagram Stories, Self-Care Ideas For Bad Days:

A post for Self-Care Ideas For Bad Days From There are 6 different options from left to right: 1. Talk it out with someone you trust, 2. Let yourself feel and express your emotions, 3. Write it out in a journal, 4. Take it easy, resting is healing, 5. Indulge in gentle, soothing activities, 6. Make yourself a special meal. On the bottom left is the Ms. Health-Esteem logo.

You all loved it so much, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into each activity and how they can help you through the heavy stuff. As well as add to the list <3. Because more is better, right?!

If you adore the self-love and care inspiration we share together here, and want some extra tips, motivation, encouragement and bonus videos, come join me on Instagram.

Ready to dive in to this goodness? Check it out:

1. Talk It Out

Two woman sit on a couch and embrace

The words “self-care” might sound like a solo activity. But reaching out for help and leaning on your support system when you need it is a beautiful and important form of self-love and care. You are worthy of love, care and support, both from yourself and from others. Sometimes the best way to show up for yourself is by asking for help.

Emotional and social support can be truly soothing in times of stress. Be it the supportive ear of a friend or loved one or the unbiased, helpful presence of a therapist. Tap into whatever support system you need, gorgeous!

Venting, talking it out, sharing your experiences and getting help can be positive ways to understand and work through those negative emotions.

Related: 7 Gentle Ways To Lift Your Spirit When You Need It

2. Feel and Express Your Emotions

A young woman sit son a couch at home and cries

When you’re sad or upset it can feel like second nature to push those emotions down and move on. Thanks to toxic positivity, many us end up thinking that we need to put “mind over matter,” “just choose to be happy,” “suck it up,” or allow for “good vibes only.”

But life doesn’t work that way. And a toxic positivity only hurts you in the long run.

All of your feelings serve a purpose, even the negative ones. So if you’ve had a bad day and are carrying some heavy emotions, know that it’s ok to express and work through them. Ignoring or silencing your feelings doesn’t help you move past them and can even lead to more hurt in the long run.

Clinical psychologist Victoria Tarratt cautions against suppressing emotions:

“Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. […] We know that it can affect blood pressure, memory and self-esteem.” (source)

Not expressing and working through your feelings can also increase incidents of anxiety and depression.

Acknowledging bad feelings as they come, even if that means that you need to have a good cry, is so incredibly important! And ultimately helps you feel better. Which makes crying when you need to way more positive than smiling through the pain.

Related: 5 Health Benefits of Crying That Will Totally Surprise You

3. Write In Your Journal

A woman sits on a bench in front of a window and writes in a journal. There is a cup of tea by her side.

Grab a pen and a journal and write it out baby! Journaling can help you make sense of your feelings and also provides an opportunity for self-distancing. You can take a step back and really observe the big picture, like an outsider, giving you some invaluable perspective.

Psychologists Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal, agrees:

“When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.” (source)

Grasping the situation is an important part of working through it and moving forward.

Journaling also allows for an emotional release and helps to lowers feelings of anxiety and stress. So why not get busy writing.

Related: Journaling Through Hard Feelings? Try This

4. Indulge in Gentle, Soothing Activities

A woman with towel wrapped around her head and a clay face mask on her face. She's laying down and has her eyes closed. She looks content

Sometimes self-care is just about pressing pause and making friends with gentle, restful activities. If you’re stressed and overwhelmed it’s ok to slow down.

Ask yourself what would help you de-stress? What helps you relax? And take a minute to do just that.

The self-care you tap into on bad days (and in general) doesn’t have to be anything glorious. Putting on cozy pajamas and snuggling under a blanket counts. Reading a trashy romance novel in the tub counts. Sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air is great. You get me?

Whether you enjoy an all out home spa day or a Netflix binge, as long as you’re charging those batteries and easing that stress, you’re doing amazing. Self-care should be your way or the highway; you do you in whatever way is right in the moment.

Related: 9 Super Gentle Additions To Your Self-Care Routine

5. Make Yourself a Special Meal

A Woman Cooks a meal in her kitchen. She's looking down as she cups up vegetables.

Cooking for someone is an act of love and kindness. And there’s no reason why that doesn’t apply when you cook for yourself.

Show yourself some love by picking out a recipe you’re excited about and getting creative in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. You can choose something new, something nostalgic, something comforting. The possibilities are endless.

Small creative projects, including following a recipe and creating a dish, can help you feel more relaxed and satisfied. And there’s a reason why we have the term “comfort food.” A special meal can bring you comfort, from choosing the recipe, to putting the ingredient together, to enjoying your delicious creation.

6. Take It Easy

A woman lays on her stomach with her head to the side. Her eyes are closed and the room is dark.

Resting is healing. Give yourself the opportunity to connect with yourself and release some outside expectations.

Rest allows you to reflect on your thoughts, feelings and emotions, helping you work through some tough feelings. It creates space for you to decompress. And it can lead to mindful moments, which may help to relieve stress, anxiety and depression, making it the perfect self-care for bad days. So put those feet up!

Related: The Wonderful Benefits and Importance of Rest

7. Check In With Yourself

A woman sits in front of a pink backdrop. She's wearing a pink bra and panty set and is leaning forward, hugging her legs and resting her head on her knees

If you knew a friend had a bad day you’d check in with them, right? You’d tell them you’re there for them and ask them if they’re ok.

So why not check in with yourself too?

Self-care check ins are a lovely way to be present for yourself on bad days.

It’s your way of showing up for yourself and making sure that you’re all right. And when you’re not ok, checking in can help you figure out why and discover the care and support you need to feel better.

Not sure where to start? I have a whole post about it right here.

8. Breathe

Young woman sitting outdoors in yoga position and taking a deep breath. Deep breathing can be great self-care on a bad day.

A few deep breaths can be incredibly uplifting. Try placing your hand on your chest, breathing in slowly and deeply, filling your lungs. In through your nose, and out through your mouth.

Deep, belly breathing activates a relaxation response, releasing tension, reducing stress and easing anxiety.

You can enjoy five simple breaths or deep breathe for five minutes. Whatever feels best. Sometimes even one intentional deep breath can make a huge difference.

Final Thoughts

Self-care word on lightbox on pink background flat lay.

It’s ok to have a bad day or to struggle. You deserve your love and support and the love and support of others.

Know that there are tons of ways to be present for yourself and support yourself as you work through difficult moments. Tap into whatever self-care feels right.

What do you do for self-care on bad days? Share what you’d add to the list in the comments below.

Health and love,


Thought of the day: I deserve to be good to myself when I’ve had a bad day.


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Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

Sara Flanagan is a wellness writer and the creator of, 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.


  1. Reply

    Ronnie Epsi

    March 12, 2021

    These are some great tips for self-care! I’ve been dealing with insomnia due to anxiety and stress, and it would really help to do everything you wrote.

  2. Reply


    March 12, 2021

    I think everyone should read and try these. Life can be hard, and so many of us try to just power through and keep all the grossness inside.

  3. Reply


    March 12, 2021

    Life can be so wonderful, but life can also be so hard. When we have bad days, it’s important to have a way to get through them in a positive way. Great post.

  4. Reply

    Tracy Isidore

    March 12, 2021

    These are great ideas for those days when we feel “off.” Great content!

  5. Reply

    Dr. Elise Ho

    March 12, 2021

    Your tips are spot on all the way through. Feel the feels, check in with yourself and practice self care always.

  6. Reply


    March 12, 2021

    On my bad days, I like to take a walk around the neighborhood. Walking always makes me feel better when I get back home.

  7. Reply

    Bryan Carey

    March 12, 2021

    My favorite way to cope is finding a place for peace and quiet. And having a beer in hand makes it that much better.

  8. Reply

    Nomadic Memoir

    March 13, 2021

    Many way to get over bad days, all summed up in a single post. It sounds great!

  9. Reply

    Maria K Niezgoda Azanha

    March 13, 2021

    Great article! Sometimes one needs just a little space and peace to come back to oneself .

  10. Reply

    Anshika Juneja

    March 14, 2021

    Self care is very much important. Taking out time for yourself and spending it peace takes off so much of pressure and stress.

  11. Reply

    Blair Villanueva

    March 15, 2021

    Whenever you had a bad day, take all the time you need to feel good and be back on track. I also tell my work colleagues with that, and cover for them. We all have ups and downs.

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Hiya! I’m Sara

I’m a wellness writer, Graves Disease thriver and self-love advocate.

And I’m passionate about empowering you to prioritize self-care and love yourself fiercely.

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