What do you do when you're miserable?
September 1, 2004 9:47 AM   Subscribe

What do you do when you're miserable? (Bonus points for answers that don't include drugs or god.)
posted by dame to Health & Fitness (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I eat Pringles dipped in sour cream and listen to Kid A over and over.

I walk to the park at night. Takes an hour. I usually feel better afterwards.

I drive around St. Louis and chainsmoke and listen to Kid A over and over.


Stay up late and listen to the BBC Worldservice.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:52 AM on September 1, 2004

I sulk and listen to depressing music. Bonus: when you're already depressed, music that wouldn't otherwise sound depressing will become so.

I don't recommend the above. Better: contrive something to do with others (so you can't change your mind as easily).
posted by kenko at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2004

Oh yeah, I tend to actually go see movies instead of renting them when I'm cranky. Sitting in the dark and being distracted for 2 hours can help.
posted by pieoverdone at 10:00 AM on September 1, 2004

1) Curl up in bed with a blanket over my head and ride it out in the knowledge that this too shall pass.

2) Or play a board game with th' wife. This is actually more about making her happy as she's the real game freak, but that makes me happy in turn.

3) Or just watch a few episodes of Urusei Yatsura.
Kinda depends on the source of the misery.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:02 AM on September 1, 2004

Meet up with friends. Maybe even talk about why you're miserable (perhaps depending on what kind of miserable you are).

kenko: I'm sure there was a study that suggested that music you expect to create a certain mood is more likely to have that effect. That is, if you expect a certain CD will make you more miserable, there's an increased likelihood that it will.
posted by biffa at 10:02 AM on September 1, 2004

Depends on the source of your misery. You might find Bertrand Russell's book "The Conquest of Happiness" useful if you're facing irrational misery; that is, you really should be happy, but you're not, and it's not clinical or biological.

Beyond that, I find that the best cure for misery is just to do something else; get active. Especially: do something with other people. Being with people forces you to focus on something else and hide your misery; which, eventually, reminds you that it's really going to be okay.

To contradict kenko: DON'T listen to depressing music if you are depressed for any extended period of time (ie, longer than one day). My experience has been, that will only cement your depression, and deepen it over time. You need to break out of your current emotional pattern, not dig it deeper. At least, that was my experience: when I eventually threw out every depressing CD I owned, I started feeling better quickly.
posted by gd779 at 10:03 AM on September 1, 2004 [1 favorite]

Depends what kind of miserable I am.

Sometimes I am "call up all the nerds I know and see if anyone wants to come over to play Settlers of Catan" miserable

Sometimes I am "watch Casablanca" miserable

Sometimes I am "listen to Tom Wait's Blood Money really loud on headphones and drink too much coffee" miserable ("all the good in the world you can fit inside a thimble, and still have room for you and me")

Sometimes I am "splatter aliens" miserable.
posted by Capn at 10:04 AM on September 1, 2004

Walk. Maybe bike. Exercize stimulates production of dopamine, increases seratonin and makes you feel better. Fresh air and nature are good too.

Movies will sometimes engage you and "take you away."

Animals! If I lie on my bed and one of my cats comes by to take a nap with me, I inevitably feel good and maybe drift off to sleep.

Hope you (or whoever) feels better :-)
posted by Shane at 10:07 AM on September 1, 2004

Seriously though: Coffee. It is a reasonably safe and easily available mood elevator.
posted by Capn at 10:09 AM on September 1, 2004

Lie down and listen to music (relaxing or angry, depending on mood) for an hour or so.

Exercise. This always helps, even when I think it won't.

Write about it. Argue with myself on paper if I'm being irrational. Usually an exercise from Feeling Good.

Talk to friends/loved ones.

Non-drug druglike solutions: overeating, losing myself in the 'net, tv, etc.

Legal drug: Alcohol. (Rarely. Not my vice.) On preview, yes, caffeine too.

You might find Bertrand Russell's book "The Conquest of Happiness" useful if you're facing irrational misery

I didn't find the Russell book helpful, but the Feeling Good book I mentioned works wonders for me. Other secular psychologists who write books which might be helpful: Ellis, Seligman.
posted by callmejay at 10:16 AM on September 1, 2004

I get drunk and/or go to bed. Note: this is not helpful. Exercise probably would be, though.
posted by mookieproof at 10:18 AM on September 1, 2004

gd779: I wasn't giving advice, I was saying what I do. You'll notice that I explicitly said "I don't recommend this".
posted by kenko at 10:19 AM on September 1, 2004

Strip club.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:24 AM on September 1, 2004

If I'm smart enough to realize it, I wage an all-out war against it. I'll get outside [sometimes this is just sitting outside in a chair in my PJs like some mental patient if it's all I can do], go for a walk or a bike ride if I can, try to eat something low in sugar, drink something high in caffeine, or cook something complicated and engrossing. I'll take the dog for a walk and practice caring about something else's feelings besides myself. Sometimes, especially if I wake up feeling that way, I'll lie in bed reading until the feeling goes away. This can take hours, on the worst of days. I have some music I listen to that is pretty tough to stay miserable through [thumping salsa and thrumming gypsy music mostly] and I'll put that on, loud. I'll email or call or write a postcard to someone who has never known me to be miserable and I'll practice keeping a stiff upper lip in the interests of keeping my miserableness a secret. Sometimes I'll just whine and ask my boyfriend to rub my belly only if I promise no more whining for the rest of the day.

Things I don't do: eat sugar, call my Mom, cut my hair, pick fights with people, update my web site, listen to Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, Red House Painters, Ben Folds Five, The Cure or the Smiths.
posted by jessamyn at 10:27 AM on September 1, 2004

When I used to be miserable a lot, I sometimes found that writing in my diary about how miserable I was helped a little. Besides that: I'd listen to music, or drink wine, or take a long walk, or just take a bath & go to bed, or, if I wasn't miserable about money, I'd sometimes buy myself something nice. Thankfully, I'm seldom miserable these days.
posted by misteraitch at 10:30 AM on September 1, 2004

Eat very, very spicy foods. I like hot foods to begin with, but when I'm in a bad mood I'll eat something a good three times hotter (subjectively) than what I typically like. Get my lips, mouth, tongue and throat burning, eyes watering, nose running, and scalp sweating.

I usually feel better afterwards--I think it's a combination of the endorphin rush (OK, so admittedly this is arguably a "drug" solution) and the fact that the pain takes my mind off of whatever other problems I had.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2004

drive fast on the interstate, loud rock music. try to get someplace beautiful.
posted by taumeson at 10:35 AM on September 1, 2004

I put a load of dishes in the dishwasher and right when they're done I pull out a warm bowl and put it on my belly.

No seriously.

It's awesome.
posted by minjungkim at 10:37 AM on September 1, 2004 [1 favorite]

Personally, I used to like a good first-person shooter, with a cheat that give me unlimited ammo, and god-like immunity. Lately though, I have liked just going outside and jawing with the neighbours. Watching kids play can be cool too...not in a creepy way, I mean, my kids, or if you don't have any, maybe a friends?

Now I am afraid I have suggested that people go hang out at playgrounds and watch children
posted by Richat at 10:43 AM on September 1, 2004

jessamyn, that's an excellent "don't" list. Speaking of "don't," don't I owe you a CD?

dame, a lot of people have mentioned movie-watching, but let me emphasize: You should actually go to a theater. The dynamic is totally different, and as long as I can let go of whatever it might be that's knotting my stomach for awhile, I find it to be about the most transporting thing that's not drugs or God (or my family). When there's not something you really want to see, I recommend going to the local budget theater and seeing whichever $3 movie you think you have the most salutary effect. Laugh at a bad movie, give in to a dumb comedy, watch someone save the world or get the girl ....

Apart from that, I also second outdoor time, both walking and driving.
posted by blueshammer at 10:45 AM on September 1, 2004

Lean on my friends. Yoga. Consume mass quantities of food.
posted by smich at 10:49 AM on September 1, 2004

Run for 40 minutes to an hour, request a long hug from my fiancee and make something elaborate for dinner.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:03 AM on September 1, 2004

Drive out to the beach and go for a long walk. The Pacific is like a giant non-denominational confessional for me- I can go tell it all my woes and it is so massive and powerful and humbling that I feel puny, and by extension, my problems are not so big.



Listen to Los Amigos Invisibles or other relentlessly cheerful music.

Eat good quality chocolate, but not so much that I feel sick.

Get a pedicure.

Pull out all my art supplies and mess around aimlessly.

Go explore a new neighborhood, or one I haven't been to in a while.
posted by ambrosia at 11:06 AM on September 1, 2004

Paint my lead soldiers. Or my geeky Warhammer stuff. I want to build a ship in a bottle next.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:07 AM on September 1, 2004

m&ms or entenmann's or pepperidge farm. lay in bed and read. make art. listen to all my favorite sad songs. call friends. plan a vacation.
posted by amberglow at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2004

I grab my coat and hat, leave my worries on the doorstep and take a walk on the sunny side of the street.
posted by bondcliff at 11:17 AM on September 1, 2004

Pick at my psyche as if it were a scab I want to get off. Dig in deep, figure out what it is that's got me miserable, dig deeper, always going towards the pain. Once you get to the part that's unbearable, the rest is easy.
Then, I get out of bed and do something about it.
posted by signal at 11:17 AM on September 1, 2004 [1 favorite]

What actually works? Wearing ridiculous goggles. I'm quite serious. Wear preposterous headgear, take a good look in the mirror, stride about your domicile, and try really hard to take yourself seriously. You'll fail, and feel better for it. Usually, though, I wind up playing computer games, which doesn't get me out of gray moods so much as forestall them. Unless I'm seriously miserable, in which case I'm as helpless as anybody. I'm not that well trained.
posted by furiousthought at 11:18 AM on September 1, 2004

Forgot this one because I haven't done it in a while, but it has helped too:

Bake bread. From scratch. No, don't even look at your bread machine, do it by hand.

This has a number of benefits:
- You get to provide the perfect conditions for an organism to be fruitful and multiply...only to kill them all a few hours later. (There, now don't you feel godlike?)
- The physical work of kneading the dough is cathartic, at least for me.
- You get that incredible fresh-baked-bread smell wafting through your house at the end.
- A warm loaf of bread, perfect for spreading butter on a slice and just letting it melt in.

Drive out to the beach and go for a long walk. The Pacific is like a giant non-denominational confessional for me- I can go tell it all my woes and it is so massive and powerful and humbling that I feel puny, and by extension, my problems are not so big.

"You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That's where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory." -- The Shawshank Redemption
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:28 AM on September 1, 2004

Sometimes it's nice to wallow in misery - but only for a little while. In these cases, Makers Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky and a pack of cigarettes does wonders.
posted by aladfar at 11:42 AM on September 1, 2004

Three things: one, I remind myself of the poor schlup that is homeless, an orphan, or the fact that my father was diagnosed with alzheimers. In other words: I kick the seat of my anxieties with the cold stark realization that I could be having real problems.

Second, I become a bit more routine, than I normally like: Regular sleep (but not extra+extra sleep), exercise, regular meal times. I help my body produce regular, expected changes.

Finally, I socialize with good friends.
posted by filmgeek at 11:53 AM on September 1, 2004

I take a long, hot shower bath in the dark.

Getting out to see a movie is key, too.

If it goes on too long, I go see a therapist that I see a few times a year for exactly this kind of thing. Feels good to talk about it with someone who gives me concrete ideas and makes me really think about what's going on.

Call friends and talk about what's going on.
posted by aacheson at 11:55 AM on September 1, 2004

I generally try to do something active. For me that includes: snowboarding, rock climbing, walking the dog, walking the wife, riding my skateboard, go for a hike, etc... Do something fun and active. Hey, sex is fun and active. Try that.
posted by trbrts at 12:12 PM on September 1, 2004

If I am trying to get ovefr it, I play music loudly and dance and sing outrageously (in the privacy of my own home, of course).

If I am trying to revel in it, well, I guess I do nothing but continue with the wallowing.
posted by Dick Paris at 12:12 PM on September 1, 2004

Short term misery: pampering (shopping or haircut, because I feel better if I look nice), eat salads & ice cream, write journal, exercise.

Long term misery: start with above, then talk to friends, consult self-help bookshelf in bookstore, find therapist.

Good luck, dame.

I put a load of dishes in the dishwasher and right when they're done I pull out a warm bowl and put it on my belly.

Oh, I am so stealing this.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:51 PM on September 1, 2004

I sleep.
posted by reklaw at 12:59 PM on September 1, 2004

I read grouphug when I'm feeling depressed/defeated. Reading about the misfortune and misery of others helps me reduce my own angst, in a few different manners.

1. Schaedenfreude (Cruelty heals all wounds)
2. Perspective (There's always someone worse off than you on grouphug)
3. Vicarious Revenge Fantasies
4. There is a confession on grouphug by someone that has what you desire and yet, that person is miserable because of that thing--the one that you want.

also, they're funny.
posted by LimePi at 1:23 PM on September 1, 2004

I usually forget to do this until it happens by accident, but what best restores my perspective when I'm wallowing in solipsistic misery is the sight of a passenger jet overhead. Hundreds of people I've never met, on their way to weddings, funerals, job interviews, vacations, assignations, assassinations, pedophile sex tourism, whatever. None of them care a bit about my relatively insignificant problems, just as I won't really care if once they're out of view they all fall into the sea. Pretty soon I remember: there is no God; I have no Enemy; the universe's attention is not on me, and I might as well cheer the fuck up.

But that's me. On the other hand (and I forfeit my bonus points), I knew a smart, creative woman who was utterly miserable for years in spite of having a pretty good life, and then some doctor put her on Wellbutrin and a now she lives in Yurp, designs toys for a living, and is marrying a nice Danish guy ten years her junior. If your life sucks, then being unhappy about it is appropriate and useful; but if you can't get happy even when things are mostly OK then the chemical soup your brain floats in needs more salt, and you shouldn't feel like you'll be any less you just cause you add a little of that flavor.
posted by nicwolff at 1:30 PM on September 1, 2004

The Pixies. I listen to the Pixies live set from April 2004 in Eugene, Oregon. No matter the circumstance, it makes me want to dance.
posted by tomharpel at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2004

I usually get out the banjo and kick out the jams.

Because you just can't play sad song on a banjo.
posted by bradth27 at 2:07 PM on September 1, 2004

Go to the zoo. Feed the ducks. Take a long, roundabout walk to a favourite coffeeshop. Cook a gourmet meal and invite friends around to eat it. Give piggyback rides to small children. Go for a long drive with good road music. Stretch.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:27 PM on September 1, 2004

I either play City of Heroes or read comic books - seeing that the world is about to be eaten by Galactus or enslaved by Red Skull helps put my problems into perspective.

however, if i'm just upset for no damn reason and I can't figure out why, I clean. Doing something productive helps me feel more successful for some reason.
posted by Stynxno at 2:31 PM on September 1, 2004

jessamyn: Things I don't do: ...listen to Sufjan Stevens...

bradth27: Because you just can't play sad song on a banjo.

posted by kenko at 2:32 PM on September 1, 2004

LimePi, That grouphugs site is horrifying. I can't believe all the psychos, women haters, killers, and horney pathetic people there are out there. Yuck. I feel like I should go home and take a shower now. I wouldn't want to group hug a single person on that site.
posted by aacheson at 2:41 PM on September 1, 2004

read You are worthless. Really!
posted by seanyboy at 4:01 PM on September 1, 2004

Well, what I did today when I was miserable was write an email to the ex-girlfriend telling her "the friends thing just makes me sad, and don't call me any more."
posted by dogwelder at 4:46 PM on September 1, 2004

when my head is messy it's best if i clean my desk to orderly perfection, do a quick tidy up of the whole house, and then go out for a hike - specifically in as natural a setting as possible - such as the botanical gardens, the harbourfront, or one of the city's nature trails. if any of my dog owning friends are around i'll invite them to come with, or if i feel it's better i'm on my own i'll offer to walk their dog for them...

the worst thing i can do is eat junky things and veg in front of a tv or mope in silence.
posted by t r a c y at 5:08 PM on September 1, 2004

Let the local terrain kick my butt. This is easier if you have some good 10,000ft+ peaks to work with, but can be done with a bicycle and mild hills and 20 miles. I assume it works with rollerblades. Try to cover some territory slightly unfamiliar to you during this period (don't get lost, though, because that's *really* depressing and can be downright scary. On the other hand, nothing has ever improved my outlook on life quite like being lost for a while and then finding my way out).

Then eat something good. Then sleep.

Drive out to the beach and go for a long walk. The Pacific is like a giant non-denominational confessional for me- I can go tell it all my woes and it is so massive and powerful and humbling that I feel puny, and by extension, my problems are not so big.

ambrosia, that's beautiful.
posted by weston at 5:39 PM on September 1, 2004

If I'm in a incredibly grumpy and unhappy mood I listen to Rammstein and stuff like that. Otherwise, I read my favorite parts of my books, where all the funny lines or happy parts are.
posted by stoneegg21 at 7:29 PM on September 1, 2004

Years ago when I had an absolutely miserable job and found it nearly impossible to get up, I started setting my alarm for 30 minutes extra time and I stayed in bed with my coffee and read the silliest stuff I could get my hands on. It helped a great deal.

One of the hardships of moving to North Carolina is I can no longer walk out on the pier at Seal Beach whenever I feel blue or headachey.

These days I either work up a sweat exercising or I play Home Spa Queen. This entails as much fussing, shaving, cosmetics, peels, scrubs, steaming, etc. as I can dream up.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:15 PM on September 2, 2004

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