Low effort, quick things to provide an immediate mood boost
September 9, 2016 11:06 PM   Subscribe

I recently entered therapy for depression, social anxiety and other issues. Part of my first session was writing up a suicide prevention/safety plan. I am supposed to have a list of things that are easy to do and take less than an hour that will help me feel better. I am struggling to come up with anything that seems like it would help.

For homework I am supposed to come up with more ideas before my next session. Ones that I feel I can actually do.

Basically I have: playing computer games, watching a movie or TV show, listening to music, reading a book and taking a walk. My main hobby can be very mentally taxing, so that is out. My imagination seems to be failing me right now (Plus I am supposed to be in bed and instead I'm on Metafilter fretting about this.) Just anything that I can use directly or will make me think of something else. Thank-you
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (45 answers total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
Jigsaw puzzle. Crochet. Crossword puzzle. Go to the 24 hour drug store.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:09 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

My list:

bath or shower with aromatic oil
write a letter to a friend who needs cheering up
go to a MeetUp
cook something simple
clean something small
pet my pet
posted by frumiousb at 11:10 PM on September 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

Also comfort easy-to-make foods -- bread with cheese and tomato. Chocolate/chocolate milk.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:12 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Stretching. Gently. Moving your feet and hands, even if you're just laying in bed.

Take a moment to feel present in your body. You're allowed to. You have permission to take moments to just feel. Wiggle around a bit. Rub your hands on your belly. Breathe in deeply, deep belly breaths.

Put some vegetables into our mouth. Chew them slowly. Sloooowly.

You may wonder how, or if, any of these would help. I understand why you'd wonder that.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 11:27 PM on September 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

Watching youtube videos of baby animals.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:30 PM on September 9, 2016 [12 favorites]

Touching a soft thing
A change of scenery
Get your crayons/watercolors/microsoft paint out and test every color. Bonus: smell the crayons
Organize a thing that doesn't need to be organized (socks, hot sauce, crayons)
Stretch every muscle
Make your bed
Plan an imaginary vacation
Go to the library and read books from your childhood
Smell all of your spices/bath products
posted by meemzi at 11:54 PM on September 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Being outside and around other people in a non social way. Like taking a walk in a busy area, going to the library, people watching at a train station, or reading in a cafe. I find it easy to slip into suicidal and self destructive thoughts when I'm alone and depressed, even doing "healthy" things like taking a bath or exercising. YMMV.

Talking on the phone to a supportive and loving person I also find very helpful.
posted by mymbleth at 12:14 AM on September 10, 2016

Listening to your favorite music.

Making tea or hot chocolate and sitting on the porch.

Walking to the store and buying a small treat

Calling and talking to __________ (I'd list 3 or 4 people in case you can't reach someone)

Working in my yard and greeting neighbors

Going for a bike ride
posted by bluedaisy at 12:42 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think the key with this is, it always sounds hard because you think "nothing makes me feel better!" But you're looking not for stuff that makes you feel all the way better, but even stuff that makes you feel a tiny bit better.
posted by corb at 12:55 AM on September 10, 2016 [19 favorites]

Music and a walk. Get a playlist of your favourite songs that make you happy, throw on some headphones and go for a walk in the sun somewhere pretty.
posted by Jubey at 1:10 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

A tip that may make your list even more useful: Be very specific about what book to read or album to listen to or movie to watch.

When you're in a critical state, it can be very difficult to make decisions, so plan your actions now, before you're critical, so all you have to do is execute what's already lined up.
posted by itesser at 1:42 AM on September 10, 2016 [9 favorites]

Get. Outside.

If you were to ask me -- and you did -- I'd say to take a really good bike ride, to where your heart rate is up, to where the sweat is flowing, and the endorphins. If riding a bicycle doesn't blow your skirt up, a really fast walk can get you close to that same feeling. (For me, a slow walk is pretty much a big drag, I just get hot and tired without the endorphin benefits and heart rate benefits etc and etc.)

Listen to a great book while you walk or ride. I've hung out with these great oncologists and cardiologists and brain surgeons and nurses of every type. I've hung out with Garrison Keillor. I've hung out *a lot* with Bill Bryson -- he's funny funny funny. I've had Barbara Kingsolver read me books that she wrote -- that's the best. Isn't that the best? I've hung out with armies, generals and foot soldiers and cities under siege, in the US Civil War, in WW 1 and WW2 and Vietnam and more.

I am 61 years old, I remember as yesterday the first time I heard that first Van Halen record, in 1978, and I heard it exactly as it is supposed to be heard: Loud as hell, on a great stereo. I'm almost done with an Audible book entitled "Van Halen Rising" which covers the lives of the band members from childhood and through their years as a backyard party band and into their first record contract and first world tour and throwing TVs out of hotel windows and blah blah blah, it's a great book for a man who still reveres that record, plays it loud as hell still. Check it out -- I've been hanging out with Eddie Van Halen for the past five days! Cool.

Take a cold water shower. It's lots of fun, it'll get you moving for real. (Step into your tub. Draw the shower curtain. Turn on the cold water; feel it on your feet. Stare up at the shower head. And then turn that faucet. I dare you to take a cold water shower. I double-dog dare you to take a cold water shower.) I haven't taken a hot shower in almost two years. Just because.
I've actually got the hot water to the shower turned off, to defend against any lapse of character. A friend visited and he's all like "WTF? There's no hot water ?!?" I replied "No. No, there isn't." He still complains about it.

Khan Academy. There is so. much. good. stuff. on that site, and more all the time. I do not grok mathematics etc so half of the site is closed to me, but the World History and US History and Art History and Astronomy and TONS of health related videos, it's just so cool. I had this monster heart attack, and died, so I get a big kick out of watching vids about cardiologists; I like to watch what they did to me, and how they did it, I just find that whole bit really interesting, and fun to watch. I love cardiologists, but then, I pretty much love all docs (yep, including my shrink), amazing human beings.

Last. Human love. Reach out to a person who you know has your back; if you can, get a mentor of sorts. And become a mentor of sorts to a couple other people. I know that being open to others when you're hurting might not seem like a good thing, or a fun thing, but it turns out that it sets into motion this very, very strange mathematics -- you get back way more than you give. It's sortof like it's a wheel, it turns back to you, but it reaches you with a lot more juice than you gave. I learned about this by watching friends in various 12 step programs, they have this role of a sponsor, they get to have one and they get to be one. It's pretty cool to watch them at it. I've adapted it, adopted it into my life, and it's great -- I have a mentor, I mentor some other men. This is maybe the best part of my life; it's very important to me. Human love. I recommend it.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:20 AM on September 10, 2016 [30 favorites]

Additional note from the OP:
For those of us that are unsure/questioning of our gender assigned at birth, or rarely able to present as our preferred gender I have found that dressing up closer to ones gender identity really helps. Clothing, soaps/shampoos, makeup, deodorants/perfume/cologne, etc. all make a difference even if it is only for an hour or two each day.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:38 AM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have found that dressing up closer to ones gender identity really helps

As far as giving yourself little gifts of gender love, one thing I did for most of my life during the "unsure/questioning" stage was to wear hidden gender-affirming undergarments beneath my "gender assigned at birth" clothing.

To help manage my anxiety I take a couple of herbal things every night before I go to bed:

Cortisol Calm and GABA.

I also like to keep these really awesome Organic Jelly Beans called Jolly Beans, made by Sunridge Farms about. But if "feeding emotions" is something that's hard to put the brakes on then you may not wanna go that route.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:05 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Whenever I need to get out of my head, and get physically feeling better and stronger, I do burpees.
Here - let Mike Rowe teach you how it's done!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 3:45 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

-Drink an entire (16-20 oz) glass of ice water
-Eat something nutritious, filling and low-effort. (ie, microwave deli soup, instant oatmeal with raisins and honey, two granola bars, sandwich. You probably have your own favorites that meet your definitions of all three. For me, that part is crucial. They have to be ALL THREE. )

Those two are the most important for me. Basically, being dehydrated, undernourished and hungry greatly reduces my ability to engage in self-care and other healthy behaviors and greatly increases my mental health symptoms. Also I have a sort of woo-woo belief that ice water has some kind of psychological reset power, but water is good for you anyway so who cares.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:47 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

- Smelling a nice smell (soaps and candles I have collected, my favorite tea, fresh laundry, picking something growing outside and crunching it up in my hands to smell it, frying onions in butter, etc etc etc to be tailored to your preferences)
- Double checking that I've taken my meds that day and if I have, taking additional OTC things to help with remaining physical badness (headache pills, caffeine, various digestive assists, sleep meds, allergy things, yadda yadda)
- 15 to 20 minutes of low impact yoga and stretching. I've figured out a few routines and cycles that work for me, you might start watching some yoga for beginners videos online and go from there. Sometimes just focusing on the calming mood of that genre of video for the full twenty minutes can be the thing that snaps me out of a harmful moment.
- 15 to 20 minutes of chores that are on my list of things I know I should do but I can't ever get myself to do and oh god life is so overwhelming I just want to die but not really but yeah really oops there I go being suicidal again aren't I hilarious??? This is stuff like cleaning the countertops, sorting through old mail, flattening boxes for the recycling, vacuuming, putting away the stuff that spreads out all over my bathroom sink, cleaning out the fridge, and so-on. I have learned that if I time myself, I become amazed at how quickly things get done, which energizes me enough to do five more minutes of cleaning, and sometimes another five more minutes. And that leads to a nicer home and less of those little stresses piling up, which helps me feel less like being dead would be a convenient option.
- I have a secret blog that is completely locked down that I rant in when I need to, usually about people suggesting a low gluten diet and yoga will magically cure my mental illnesses (yes I acknowledge the irony that I just told you to do yoga but I never said it *fixed* me) but sometimes also just general life stuff. This is the modern equivalent of a secret diary except a lot of the time, after I finish furiously typing, I reread what I wrote, feel better, and don't post it. And often I will come back to an entry, feel like I've moved past the issue, and delete that post. It is a really pleasant sensation to wash myself of these angry and anxious moments from my past.
- I got a cat. He is my medicinal cat and very fluffy and I love him a lot. Petting and squishing him a few times a day makes me feel really good and when I am really low he comes to sit on me and meows in my ear and rubs his face all over me. If you are not in a pet having situation, maybe find a place you can go regularly that has pets? Like a nice park where people take their dogs, or a book store with a resident cat, or a friend with a cuddly iguana?? Find a way to get some animal affection in your life.
posted by Mizu at 3:58 AM on September 10, 2016 [15 favorites]

Other stuff: I would definitely be specific in your list. My decision-making ability decreases as my mental health symptoms increase. So "Listen to [Name of Favorite Album]" would work better for me than "Listen to music I like." Same for movies, books, etc. You could also make a separate Netflix profile for happy or engrossing stuff, so the list entry could be "watch the first thing in my Happy Netflix queue" rather than "Watch something happy." God knows my main Netflix queue is all heartbreaking foreign films that I don't really wanna watch, let alone when I'm depressed.

You might like some of the more concrete suggestions on this List of Pleasurable Activities from a DBT skills site, or they might spark some ideas for you.

Other list items:
-Take a shower
-do a beauty treatment (like a face mask or manicure) if you like/have access to those kinds of things
-Write a postcard or letter to someone you know
-Write a postcard to send on Postcrossing. This one is different from and in a lot of ways better than the previous entry for me, because it gets me thinking about doing something nice for this other person, about how they're far away/foreign to me but still so human and I relate to them, what do I want to tell them about where I live, etc.
-text someone you love
-write in a journal
-work along with a YouTube tutorial for something simple but physical. I do eyeshadow tutorials but I think anything simple and physical would get at the same feeling. Crafts, calligraphy, braiding, juggling, clothes folding, maybe simple dance moves?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:24 AM on September 10, 2016 [8 favorites]

A Make It Better Box might help?

Also, Snarl Furillo, I love Postcrossing for just the reasons you said! Once I sent a postcard and the recipient mentioned she had received it the day her cat died and it was so good to have the moment of kindness (receiving my card) -- it reminded me of the power I have, even when I feel helpless, to give light to other people (especially good because receiving postcards on bad days makes me appreciate human kindness, so it helps to feel I can share it too).
posted by diffuse at 5:04 AM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

Make a list of things you're grateful for. Anything at all. Just keep writing the list. It's the most intense mood shift for me! And when I'm really down, it's a struggle to find one thing, so usually I start very small. It always ends up snowballing, and I always feel better.
posted by katypickle at 6:36 AM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would definitely be specific in your list. My decision-making ability decreases as my mental health symptoms increase. So "Listen to [Name of Favorite Album]" would work better for me than "Listen to music I like."

Oh yes, agree with this. I use Spotify to slowly build playlists for different moods - the Discover feature is great for hearing new stuff. (Browse -> Discover -> either whatever looks good or your personal Discover Weekly list.) Or check this or this out. I think it can be good to hear stuff you haven't already got associations with, if some of them aren't great. (I think you can absolutely "curate" your moods using music. I'd be cautious about indulging too much in music that amplifies the sads. (This paper [pdf] seems to bear out what I've personally experienced, i.e. that upbeat, groove-based music is more happy-making than other types. I go for electro, house, latin, soul [at a certain tempo] - stuff like that tends to perk me up.)

I don't do yoga that much these days, but it does help - DoYogaWithMe and Ekhart Yoga are good resources for short vids you could pop on and follow.

2nd cooking, and your own rec of self-pampering (doing facials, feet, etc). Anything sensory and grounding like that.

(I find that lighting makes a big difference for me. If you don't have a lot of light sources at different levels in your living space, invest in some table and floor lamps if you can. Incandescent if poss.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:45 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

What I do:

Look at all the cute animals at /r/AWWW and the nice things at /r/eyebleach on Reddit.

Listen to my music playlist, which is loaded with about 170 songs: guilty pleasures, songs I can sing along to, ones I used to overplay and which could stand some more relistening (not many of these), ones that are upbeat and happy, or optimistic and cheerful, and some that are just ridiculously fun ("I like big butts and I cannot lie!"...).

Make a food treat for my family.

Give the cats a really long petting or brushing session.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:55 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah! Shopping therapy! Nothing ridiculous but I sometimes browse Amazon's recommendations for under $10 and given how long I've been on that site, they tend to be pretty good. Like, a Mexican sugar skull T-shirt, a cat toy, a book. Then I get a nice feeling three times: once because I bought myself something I liked, another time when it arrives, and another when I am pleased at keeping it cheap.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:01 AM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

Touching velvet or silk.
Clearing the kitchen benches and sink.
Dressing gowns.
A nice cup of tea.
Alphabetising things.
posted by kjs4 at 7:03 AM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Going to the pet store to see the animals, cuddle some baby bunnies (despite allergies).
posted by lizbunny at 7:09 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Listening to a specific song or playlist that makes you feel good or makes you feel like dancing around or singing along.

Making and eating a simple meal that you like.

Making and drinking a cup of herbal tea that you like.

Using a tool like this to massage your shoulders and back.

Using an aromatherapy diffuser to smell some essential oils that you like (lavender or vanilla, for instance).
posted by ourobouros at 7:39 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Eat your favorite kind of apple.

Drink some orange juice.

Brush/comb your hair.

Brush your teeth.

Make a playlist of YouTube videos that make you smile or laugh to watch when you need a lift.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:58 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Look at Art. Either online, or preferably in a real paper book.
Tend to houseplants.
Do deep breathing exercises.
Journal, colour, or doodle.
Smell something nice... burn a candle, put on some lotion.
Sit somewhere outside, appreciate nature.
Put a cold washcloth on the head or back of the neck.
Have a nap, or just lay in the dark and rest.
Put on some sunglasses... it makes the world seem less harsh.
posted by fourpotatoes at 7:59 AM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

Visit the Humane Society (ours is a nice clean space with neat cat spaces.) And talk to the animals.
posted by vespabelle at 8:03 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I sometimes do things that have a fixed time limit associated with them so I can tell myself that I can hang on til the thing has naturally ended and by the end of it, a little more time has passed and sometimes my mood has shifted. Some of these are chore things because I find that being one step along in the interminable cycle of chores can help my mood. Some things

- slice up and eat and apple
- light some incense and lie on the couch (better if there's a finite end to it and not just "lie on couch until you want to get off the couch")
- play a round of 2048 on my phone
- listen to TOP FIVE playlist on my phone/computer
- rate 20 more songs on my computer
- write and mail a letter to someone
- foot massage
- sweep up a room
- pull creeping ivy off of the trees
- take out all the trash/recycling
- brush and floss
- get a birdfeeder, watch birds until you see five different birds
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

Mindful Meditation sounds like exactly what you need. My situation sounds similar and it helped me a lot.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:29 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Agreeing with all the animal suggestions to throw in visiting a petting zoo. I find feeding goats so entertaining and enjoyable that it will snap me out of the worst of moods (particularly if I get to feed baby goats with a bottle). This also has the perk of getting out of the house and into some sunshine.

It also is a lot of steps from being at home to getting all the way to a zoo, so for an immediate mood changer at home I really like yoga videos online. Doing a long routine is often too intimidating, but you can find super short videos. Even just five minutes of moving and breathing can put me in a better mental place.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 8:46 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Getting physically active can boost mood, and it doesn't need to be a big workout.

My suggestion? Jumping rope for one or more minutes.

You can take a jump rope anywhere, and there's no rule against watching tv/listening to music/shows at the same time that jump rope, as long as you have the space for it.

I started jumping rope last January, just 1-2 minutes at a time. It provided an immediate boost and now I can do a light jump rope workout for 10 minutes or a more intense workout for 20 minutes regularly. I feel more fit and it is a mood booster.
posted by ElisaOS at 9:28 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I sit down in front of my Lumie Brazil lightbox for 30 minutes as soon as I wake up every morning, whether it is Winter or Summertime. This makes me feel better even if it is gloomy outside.

Then I eat my quick to prepare Happy Porridge every morning. This comprises: a half cup scoop of oats, some ground ginger, a spoon of turmeric, some cinnamon, a few raisins, a large spoon of flaxseed and some mixed nuts and seeds. I pour on some milk and put the bowl in the microwave for two minutes.

I then have a cup of tea and at the same time I read something inspirational or uplifting.

This routine has completely changed my life.
posted by resurgem at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2016 [9 favorites]

Kate Bornstein's book Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide is dedicated to exactly this. I don't know your specific circumstances but I'd give it a bit of trigger warning for its very non-condemnatory approach to riskier behaviours including self harm. Overall, though, I know that some people have found it very helpful.
posted by bibliotropic at 11:01 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

When my special needs kids were little, I found that a drink, a snack or a nap could be the difference between despair and positivity. These days, when I am suicidal, food and drink is the first thing we turn to. I have wonky brain chemistry and eating the right stuff can make a serious difference for me.

The other thing we do when I am seriously suicidal is my sons do not leave me alone. So, perhaps seek social contact, even if it is just online. Find a social space online that works for you and hang there.

I like answering questions on metafilter in part because it is not a debate space and is highly moderated. I can talk at people in a positive way (for problem solving) with low risk of feeling crapped on for it. That helps my sanity.

I also like Twitter. That's been a positive experience for me and I go hang there when I want some social contact where people aren't too likely to start a big fight with me or something -- and I can block specific individuals if I really don't like dealing with them, something you can't really do in most forums.
posted by Michele in California at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Agree with all of the above and add do tasks, like wash dishes, water a plant, pick up a few clothes, do a load of laundry, vacuum one small room, clear a small pile, etc

With any chore done you will have a sense of accomplishment and feel better.

I have been watching my depressed husband all summer and the times he felt better was after he forced himself to complete things, that and getting outside going literally anywhere, helped the most.
posted by oceanlady at 11:41 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Something to get your heart rate up and your body moving. Anything works -- jumping jacks, walking up and down stairs a few times, push-ups, a simple sequence of yoga poses like sun salutations (there are a couple variations and you can do several of the sequences in a row -- it involves getting down and up, which gets the blood moving around the old bod). To me, the important thing is deciding on one thing so that if you're feeling bad/anxious/desperate, you can just kick into autopilot and do that thing, without having to freshly decide which of several options. And then once you've done it, you can choose to do another set etc, or switch over to something else.

(Having a fitbit or other exercise/heartrate tracker is sometimes good for this kind of thing, because you get the instant feedback of how many steps -- "ok, I'm not sure what to do right now, I'll add 200 steps to my day" -- and of whether you've achieved a raised-heartrate goal -- "ok, I'm feeling crappy and when that happens, I'll try to get my heartrate up to 150 for one minute" (or whatever a good number for you is). You can start with really easy achievable goals. Caveat -- heart rate trackers are somewhat expensive, but plain step-trackers can be had very cheaply. If you have a smart phone it might have some tracking capability like this.)

A similar thing is true for chores, for me. Needing to decide in the moment which chore to do makes it much harder. But if I have just one set thing, which is the thing I will do, it's much easier to get started -- getting the autopilot set up is key. Maybe clean the kitchen sink, or make the bed. That level of thing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Very low effort:
- Listening to David Bowie's Station to Station very loud.
- The yoga poses prasarita padottanasana and halasana, making sure to breathe into the pose to deepen it.
- Smashing stuff with friends in Diablo III.

A little more involved, mostly because of time and going to the store:
- Make and eat bone broth.
- Make a simple pie. I love making pie crust so much, it's relaxing to make and amazing to watch it brown up perfectly. And then eat of course. I use this recipe. Use some fruits that are in season.
posted by moons in june at 11:51 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

When depression or anxiety hits it's often difficult to go outside, but everyone above is right about exercise's mood-lifting effect. Try headstands and handstands, if you can.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:31 PM on September 10, 2016

I have some very wonky mood issues (currently dealing with my annual bout of seasonal affective mood peaks and crashes, sleeplessness, inexplicable sense of dread, and feeling paralyzed to do ... anything.)

Here is my list of things that have worked or that I currently use:

Not allowing myself to be alone or sink, retreat, or go inside myself too far. This is my first and most important rule, since I find that the more I take "contemplation time" or have too much solitude, the low darkness seeps even more into me. This can look like seeking out supportive friends, connecting with my sister, asking my partner to just sit at home and talk with me about stupid random things so I'm not internally disintegrating, or writing letters to people that I love as if I'm having a conversation with them.

Baths with lovely things that smell very good (my go-to is the blackberry bath bomb from LUSH combined with using their coffee face mask) and reading a completely fantastic book that doesn't trigger anything.

Researching something extremely engaging, often to solve some sort of problem or need, such as looking on Amazon for a certain bin to organize something at home, or looking into something work-related, like how to build a puppet theatre. (child therapist) Yesterday I read and critiqued a friend's play, and read articles on neurosequential interventions for children, as well as reading an introduction to Somatic Experiencing. I take notes on these things in a notebook or on the pages and then type and organize them later according to what I'm going to do with them.

A few years ago I made a playlist which I titled "The Unsad Mix," during a bad period for myself and a close friend. I put a lot of effort and thought into it, and both me and my friend still listen to it in low times and love it. I've done a few others since then, as well -- sample tracks: I'm Every Woman, Whitney Houston, Handle Me, Pink, You and I, Ingrid Michaelson. Feel free to email me for more suggestions for Unsad Mix songs -- I have a lot.

Very recently, due to some time spent with a personal trainer, I've come to the interoceptive realization that exercise, even a very little bit of exercise, can shift my mood and energy level in a way that I've never felt before. I will sometimes tell myself, "Even if you just do 5 minutes, you know you'll feel better," and do a really short routine, like 20 bird-dogs on each side, 20 crunches, plank for as long as I can (not that long yet!), and maybe a few minutes on my treadmill. The other night I was so low that I cancelled on my trainer, and she came to my apartment and made me work out on the sidewalk with her. 10 minutes in, I started crying OUT OF JOY because I felt the shift in my mood come over me and the darkness start slipping away.

I hope very much that this helps -- I have been in these places and have fought a long and bitter battle to figure out what works for me. Take care of yourself.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 3:52 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Weightlifting made a huge difference in my mood. You can make it easy by getting some small dumbbells (or whatever weight you can handle, but start low). YouTube has lots of exercise instruction videos - pick a few routines and do them while you watch Netflix. Gradually increase the amount of weight and/or number of repetitions. You can find equipment at yard sales or secondhand stores; it's not like dumbbells "go bad."

It really increased my confidence to get measurably better at something over time and to see its effects in my daily life (e.g. carrying 30 lbs of cat litter up two flights of stairs is a lot easier now!). The exercise itself gives your brain a boost. The physical feeling (including soreness) takes your mind off the emotions.

I regret putting this off for so long. It is way easier and more beneficial than it sounds.
posted by AFABulous at 4:06 PM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

Adult coloring books. ?

Be specific abour exercise and activity. Instead if "do chores" put
Rake the lawn/ mow lawn/ shovel snow
Weed your garden
Fold laundry
Wash your sheets
Scrub the bathtub
Clean the windows. Etc. any of those could easily take a lot of time and along with being physical activity have the added benefit of task completion which can feel very good.

Be specific about walks. Such as
Walk to coffeeshop
Walk by the river
Walk to the park

Give yourself as much detail as possible.
posted by ChristineSings at 7:03 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Joy of Painting is on Netflix and has a YouTube channel. Come for the happy little trees and baby animals, stay for Bob Ross's unflagging belief that you can make a beautiful world for yourself.
posted by Owlcat at 7:54 AM on September 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

My list would be:

Petting my/a dog.
Forest bathing.
Making a cup of dark roast coffee. Drinking it slowly.
Listening to music that makes me feel something.
A really good stretch. And then making a drawing about it.
posted by LonelyOnes at 1:43 PM on September 24, 2016

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