Exercise & fitness

How to take care of yourself on down days

24 Apr 2023 | Written by By Kathy Feest

As part of our wellbeing month, The Joy Club member Kathy Feest shares her practical tips on how to take care of yourself during more difficult periods…

As an eternal optimist, it’s really tricky having to deal with a down day. Where did that come from? Why is it happening and when will it go away? Those are some of the questions that emerge when those down days arrive. And there will be down days! 

Our daily lives are filled with change and not all days are equal. But how can we employ wellness strategies when we just want to pull the covers up over our heads and stay tucked away from the world? I’m certainly no expert in these matters, but I have had my share of down days and have developed a few strategies from my own personal assortment that often pull me out of the funk that arrives unannounced and unbidden. There are also a few tips from some wellness experts, who steer us in the right direction!

Let’s start with my personal top tips. Move! Walk, dance, run, or – in my case – swim! On good days and not-so-good days, it’s my movement of choice. On the days I’m not interested, too tired, can’t be bothered, and I still manage to push myself into the water, I always, but always, come out feeling better. There are days when a walk, or a stationary bike ride or just some floor exercises are all I manage and nine times out of ten, when I finish, I feel better. According to NHS Choices, “exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose.” This is no snake oil. However old you are, the scientists tell us that regular physical activity helps people to have both happier and healthier lives.  

Researchers have demonstrated the correlation between movement and mood and much more!

When my darling mother-in-law was in a nursing home, even at the age of 94 she and the fellow residents came together and moved. Admittedly, they didn’t move a great deal, because they couldn’t, but doing what they could do helped. The other important factor of their activity is that they did it together. Especially on those down days, socialising is important. Speaking to others sometimes lifts your mood without any further requirements! The science again agrees that socialising is vital to wellbeing. 

For a look at more ways to improve your wellbeing on tricky days, have a look at the emotional wellbeing toolkit – an excellent resource.

According to Patrick Hill, an Associate professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, one of the most important components of our lives is to have a purpose.  Those tricky days are a good time to think about what it is that you really want. Now, at this age and stage, on yucky days I pull out my trusty journal and write my feelings and desires down.  Another benefit of jotting down these things is that you can go back and reread what you thought the last time you had a not so perfect day. Reminding yourself of your purpose helps through those tricky hiding under the duvet days. 

Although it may not feel like it at the time, those down days are important to us. They offer the opportunity to do a bit of realignment calibration, so we can align our desires and purpose and when we come out of our funk, we might find we are in an enhanced state of wellness and can move forward.  

One of the thirty seven ways that Hadley Mendelsohn a freelance writer suggests to get out of a bad day is my absolute favourite;  go out and buy yourself some flowers! Here are more suggestions that you might try.  

If you get really stuck, seek help.  There are plenty of people to help when that bleak day turns into days or even weeks. Reread the emotional  wellness toolkit if you need to. 

Things will change… they always do and when the change comes you can move back into alignment with yourself and positively move forward once more. That’s the eternal optimist speaking of course. But in case you were wondering… optimism is one of the hall marks of wellness. Optimists are significantly more successful than pessimists in aversive events and when important life-goals are impaired. So cheer up! Life WILL get better!


Kathy Feest has a wealth of experience with writing, leadership and personal development mentoring. Kathy fulfilled her dream at the age of 41 and earned her first University degree; she went on to complete a PhD in Medical Education. She regularly runs self-development workshops at The Joy Club so keep your eyes on our events calendar for one of her next live sessions.

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