No one wants to be a downer, but we all go through rough stretches where life feels out of control or really hard, and it's more than OK to acknowledge that. Things can feel a bit dark for any number of reasons — a bout of depression, a quarter-life crisis, job dissatisfaction, or the aftermath of losing someone close to us can all throw us off-kilter. And sometimes, just going through the motions of everyday life is enough to leave us down in the dumps. It's healthy and important to acknowledge our feelings and look into why we're feeling sad or negative — especially if the feelings persist and we're struggling to identify why we're unhappy. But whether we're dealing with major depression or just a standard-issue rough patch, there are always little things we can do each day to stay positive.
Engaging in a healthy lifestyle and practicing self-care is probably one of the most important factors when it comes to staying positive in the face of life's slings and arrows — so let's never forget about the basics. Trying to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, exercise, and not drink excessively are all excellent ways to give yourself a solid mental and physical foundation. But let's be honest — sometimes that's just not enough. Sometimes we need some help.
Luckily, there are a lot of small things you can do every day that can add up to one big positivity boost. Try these seven small positivity tips below, and see if they help you stay focused on that light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Start The Morning Off Right
Your attitude in the morning can easily set the tone for the rest of your day — so try to identify some things that make you a little more cheerful in the morning. If you're a morning person, this is probably way easier — you can go to the gym or go for a brisk walk to give yourself an endorphin boost.
But even if you hate mornings (*raises hand*), not all hope is lost. Since you need to eat breakfast and get ready for work before you head out the door, make the experience as pleasant as possible. Little things can make a big difference — so keep your favorite breakfast foods in your kitchen and turn on a favorite sitcom for background noise while you get dressed. If you start the day with a smile on your face, you'll have better odds of staying positive when things inevitably get stressful.
2. Make Someone Else's Day Better
While we should always be mindful of our own self-care, improving someone else's day can improve our mood, too. Full-on volunteering definitely helps: It'll give you a sense of purpose on days when you feel uninspired by your day job and it will provide some much-needed perspective.
But starting small can also work. If a friend or colleague is having a bad day, offer to buy them a coffee and lend an ear. They'll be appreciative, and helping others is a great way to get our minds off ourselves and be more positive.
3. Treat Yourself!
Little splurges shouldn't only be busted out when we've had an absolutely terrible day. Having one small thing to look forward to each day is a great way to stay positive. Plan out your week so you know you have a fun happy hour or dinner date with a close friend to look forward to after a jam-packed work day. Carve out time each day to do something that makes you feel relaxed and calm, whether it's yoga, cooking, or reading a good book. It doesn't have to be something indulgent — just something that will make you feel good.
4. Take Breaks To Decompress
If you're surrounded by a lot of stress or negativity during the day (due to, say, a bad work situation), try to get away from it all and decompress for at least 15-20 minutes. Even if you're in the habit of eating lunch at your desk, some days necessitate that you step away for a bit. Put in your headphones, take a walk, and just separate yourself from everyone else's anxiety and stress. It'll make you more positive and more productive for the rest of the day.
5. Count Your Blessings
Some days, it feels like literally everything is going wrong. We're human, and it's easy to focus on all the negative things happening to us and around us. It's times like this that we should focus on what we're grateful for — because, if we think about it, there's a lot to be positive about. I've found that making a gratitude list is really helpful, and it can include everything from the little things to the big things. It may sound impossible to do when you're feeling bad, but starting with the small stuff can help — and studies have shown that feeling thankful can help fight depression.
6. Make Healthy Habits A Part Of Your Daily Routine
Adding healthy habits into your everyday life will help you stay positive without even really thinking about it. Take time to explore what healthy activities make you feel good and begin to work them into your daily routines. Although these activities will vary depending on the person, things like yoga and journaling can help you decompress and cultivate inner happiness. In general, any activity that relaxes you and allows you to put things into perspective is a great way to stay positive even when the going gets tough.
7. Look At Inspiring Quotes
Call me cheesy, but nothing makes me feel like I can conquer a tough day quite as much as looking at a few positive and inspiring quotes. I even have an album on my phone dedicated to motivational quotes (OK, you can judge me for that one). All sorts of people — from classic novelists to amazing songwriters to political figures — have some words of wisdom about staying upbeat and not giving up on yourself. When I need a dose of positivity to get me through a rough day, looking at some inspiring quotes helps me focus on the big picture. If you have a few favorites, jot them down on pretty stationary and tape them up at your work cube or in your apartment so you can easily look at them. Catching sight of them on a bad day might not turn everything around, but it can remind you that you won't feel this way forever.