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Feeling Down? Here Are Over 100 Ideas to Pick You Up

Even the most upbeat people get down from time to time. And sometimes your usual pick-me-ups don’t work. So in case it helps to have some ideas to inspire you, a few of my friends and I put a list together.

It started when I asked:

What’s your go-to, never-fail pick-me-up? A movie? Some kind of food? Shopping? Exercise? What do you do to indulge yourself or distract yourself or heal yourself or whatever when you’re feeling down?

They came up with over 100 great answers, and I thought maybe other people could benefit from these ideas. Maybe your own best trick isn’t on this list; maybe you can add it in the comments. And then maybe, when people are down and looking for ways to cheer up, they may happen upon this list and find just the thing that helps them feel better.

I’ve grouped them into categories. Here goes.


A good cuddle. — G.S.

Calling someone I love. — B.C.

A cute date and good cocktails. — M.Z.

Hug from my 5 year old. It’s pretty magical. — M.R.

Grabbing drinks with my husband or friends also does the trick. — L.C

The dork I’m married to just came sliding in the room in his underwear. So there’s that. — S.F.

In all honesty, reading what my friends write and share always helps me out a bit. — M.B.

If I’m REALLY down like can’t get out of bed or sad for no reason, I text everyone I know and tell them I love them. Sometimes when it feels like your jar is most empty, it’s spreading and giving love and being grateful that fills it back up. — K.W.


Truthfully, I’m a true introvert & I usually hang out with myself or reach out to my closest few folks who know the good buttons to push. — B.D.

Solo meditative bowling session, headphones in, George Benson’s Beyond Blue Horizon on repeat. — B.B.

Burying my phone in my purse to ignore it for a couple of hours. — C.S.

Create Something, or Stimulate Your Brain

Some kind of work with my hands. — T.L.

For a bit last year I was taking improv classes on Tuesdays. Pretty much made my entire week awesome. — M.R.

Painting. — M.R.

Going to an art show or an art lecture: so often that simple pleasure perks me right back up. — M.K.

Read engrossing fantasy novels. — M.R.

Calvin & Hobbes. I have the collection. — S.F.

Eat or Drink

Ice cream is the ticket. — B.B.

Eat fajitas, watch Pitch Perfect. — B.M.

Peppermint essential oil but mainly coffee. — M.W.

Eating sherbert. — S.B.

I eat my feelings. — T.T.

Green juice. Or Jeni’s ice cream. — M.Z.

Chocolate. — B.C.

Move Your Body

Tango. With a side of tango. — E.A.

Yoga. — S.S.

Go for a run. — C.K.

Running. Instead of troubling thoughts you’re concentrating on breathing. — L.K.

Yoga. — P.H.

Dance. — S.B.

Go dance. — P.H.

Great workout with upbeat music. — M.Z.

Dancing with myself or going for a run. — L.C.

When I have time, I run. Clears the head. — T.A.

Really, I ought to go back to Bikram yoga. That cured everything. — T.T.

I wiggle my toes, and meditate on the incredible biological and physical systems that allow me to think “Toes: wiggle” and then somehow effectively instantaneously digits attached to my feet wiggle. There are so many unanswered mysteries embedded in the process of wiggling ones toes that I inevitably feel a little bit better. — W.H.


Long hot bath. — D.C.

Super hot bath with lush or other great bath products, candles, and something to read or listen to. — C.R.

I go get massages when I’m sore or stressed. — T.G.

Go to the Humane Society and play in the puppy room. — S.B.

Listen to Music

Sometimes music does the trick. — G.O.

80's music. — M.M.

Music. Always. Wye Oak’ Shriek, H Hancock, S Roach’ Dreamtime Return or anything, anything by the geniuses that are Hammock.

Mr King, with a heavy dose from Lucille, from Indianola, MS says it best:

— B.D.

Play music that lifts my spirits. — P.H.

For wallowing, I prefer naval gazing college chick music (seriously). — T.L.

Music- pop, hip hop, rap, old nostalgic hits. — B.N.

Music. The best is surfing but that’s not as accessible as listening to or playing music. — C.T.

— C.W.

Callin’ Oates: The Hotline You Don’t Need (But Might Call Anyway): — D.C.

Seeing music live always gives me joy and makes things seem a whole lot better. — L.C.

Any Beastie Boys’ album. — M.H.

The albums Pornography and/or Disintegration by The Cure. It always cheers me up thinking that someone out there has it worse. — M.S.

— W.L.

The Crystal Method — Vegas album. Eliminates inertia every time. — T.A.

Mrs. Miller. It’s bad enough to make your ears bleed but will guarantee laughter. Especially, “There Goes My Everything.” The vibrato and harmonies are beyond bad.

— C.M.

Pick up my guitar. — T.R.

For a quick fix, I sing. Music therapy centers me. — T.A.

Prisoner of Azkaban audio tape with Jim Dale. — S.F.

Listening to my “theme song” for the year. Works every time. — A.C.


Unconsciousness / sleep. Music, film, food… there is absolutely no other person or thing I can 100% rely on. My brain simply has to shut off. — M.C.

Sleep. — S.B.

Sleeping. — R.R.

A nap. I need a new indulgence. — A.S.


Hovering around the art supply store somehow never fails. — A.P.

Mindless shopping. — M.M.

Coffee and window shopping for me. (I discovered I don’t actually have to buy anything to get the mental boost I need, oddly enough.) — C.S.

Get Outside

I like to find and drive roads I’ve never been on before and get lost while listening to music. Maybe make a few unplanned stops. When sufficiently lost I open Waze and head home. — J.L.

Hiking, preferably in the mountains. — J.P.

Also, a nice walk always gets me back to good. — M.B.

Weather permitting, I hit the lake! — T.W.

A walk in the sunshine by water. — J.R.

Go for a walk/hike. — M.R.

Going outside. — B.C.

Walk outside in the sunshine if I can get it. — P.H.

Walking into town and having to decide between Krispy Kreme, Sweet Frog or Ben & Jerry’s. — A.S.

I go out in the woods, on foot or bicycle. — G.G.

Drive listening to old Staxx music or bluegrass. — T.L.

Road trip on the back roads while listening to the Beatles “LOVE” CD. — K.W.

Getting off-grid, especially with someone I can be still around. — M.K.

Watch Something

The Marvel/Avengers movies. — M.B.

Any “thug life” videos. — J.D.

Something intense with subtitles or complex storyline for really deep distraction. — B.N.

30 Rock. — M.M.

Watching “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, “Pride and Prejudice”, or a good Disney flick. — S.B.

Girls/Sex in the City reruns. — C.K.

Comedy. — S.B.

There are a couple of go-to films I watch to re-inspire me. One is the Ben Stiller version of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” — which is a classic hero’s journey story and beautifully shot, which I love. Another is Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown” — which you just can’t watch without coming away feeling good. Overall, I watch films that take a character from a horrible place to a good place — which is where I want to go when I’m feeling down. — B.V.

Watching junk End-of-the-World themed movies. — M.K.

I go to see movies by myself sometimes. I can laugh as loud as I want that way. — T.G.

Napoleon Dynamite or Ferris Bueller. — M.H.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Or The Royal Tenenbaums. — W.H.

HBO Realtime with Bill Maher. — M.R.

A good movie. — M.R.

Family Guy. It’s so wrong, but it’s so funny. — B.B.

Watch Gilmore Girls. — P.H.

The Rookie, Rudy, Remember The Titans! — D.T.

Watching the Music City Miracle replay. #Prozac4TitansFans — J.R.

The IT Crowd (on Netflix) — A.K.

Thomas Crown Affair is one of my favorite movies. — J.R.

If I’m just tired or need a laugh, the TV show Wipeout works every time. I love the slapstick. If it’s something bigger or deeper, I have to go with Paul Newman in “Nobody’s Fool” or (believe it or not) Nicolas Cage in “Family Man.” — B.H.

Fainting goat videos on youtube? — E.J.

Those ridiculous “aliens on the moon” things on Netflix. — B.B.

Combination Ideas

A good book…homemade tomato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich and my dogs. — S.S.

Ten-plus miles with 80's music followed by red wine and chocolate. — C.K.

Tongue-In-Cheek Ideas (at least I think they were tongue-in-cheek…)

Just kidding.
Kinda. — D.D.

Post a rant on Facebook? — P.S.

Since no one else is saying drugs, I’m going with Snoopy movies. — B.M.

Help Others and Look for Perspective

Help someone in need. — S.K.

Go help someone else. — O.L.

I write someone a card & find someone else that needs my help. If that doesn’t work, call my therapist & remember I have 1st world issues. — S.S.

Thanks to my friends who contributed these suggestions. I hope together we’ve given you an idea that brings a smile to your face and a spring to your step.

Thank you for reading. Please clap or “Recommend” if you found this piece interesting or meaningful. And please feel free to share widely.

And if you like this, you might also like “9 creativity-sparking ideas for when you don’t feel like working but you’re not ready to give up and watch TV shows on Netflix all afternoon

Kate O’Neill, founder of KO Insights, is an author, speaker, and “tech humanist” consultant solving strategic problems in how data and technology can shape more meaningful human experiences. Her latest book is Pixels and Place: Connecting Human Experience Across Digital and Physical Spaces. And she’s generally a pretty happy person.

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