Chances are that when you’re having a bad day—or string of bad days—you’re super focused on how to put out this mental dumpster fire. Maybe you pull out some tools you learned in therapy or you do some self-reflection and journaling to process your emotions and reflect on why you’re feeling so blah. But when things are going really freaking great, it can be easy (automatic, even) to just sail through those good vibes without putting any thought or work into your mental health. Big mistake, people.
“If we can be proactive and see mental health the same way we see brushing our teeth, as a daily habit that just folds into our lives, we can actually in some ways move forward with a version of ourselves that is healthier,” says Babita Spinelli, licensed psychotherapist and psychoanalyst. “This means not just doing or thinking about mental health when we’re in crisis mode or when we’re having an issue.” Instead, it’s about making mental fitness (or working on your mental health—whatever that looks like to you) and emotional awareness a daily practice to help us evolve and grow. And, honestly, it’s a lot easier to do this when things are not actively on fire.
“Our best work is when things are great. You can gain more clarity when things are great because you can go deeper into the work,” Spinelli says. When you’re not in the thick of a mental health spiral, you can actually take an aerial view and ask yourself some meaningful questions that you wouldn’t be able to when you’re just trying to get through the day.
Need some inner reflection inspo? Try noodling on these questions—whether you’re journaling, meditating, or chatting with a friend or therapist.
1. What am I grateful for?
We’re starting with one that’s overplayed for a reason—it’s legit. Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a positive headspace more good stuff tends to happen to you? Sure, it might be ~manifestation~ or it could be that you’re more primed to see the goodness all around you when you’re already in a top-tier mood. So take advantage of this lovely mindset and start (or continue) a gratitude practice like jotting down what you’re grateful for in your journal or Notes app or on your bathroom mirror. When you’re feeling good, it can be easy to lose sight of this important practice, Spinelli says. But trust that you’re going to want to look back at this list the next time you’re feeling not-so-great.
2. What are some things I want to remember to do when I’m feeling down?
“There might be things that we do organically when we’re in a good mood that contribute to our good mood,” says Stephanie Roth Goldberg, LCSW-R, founder of Intuitive Psychotherapy NYC. Like trying something new, calling up a friend, getting all dressed up, whatever. These are the things you want to take note of now so that you can strategically implement them on not-so-good days.
For example: “When we feel good, we have more energy to do things like exercise, which releases different chemicals that make you feel happy and helps perpetuate a good mood,” Goldberg says. But that’s not to say that the same tactic wouldn’t also help catapult you from a shitty mood to, at the very least, a slightly better one. Keeping an actual log of these things that you do on good days and associate with feeling good will basically function as a “this might make you feel better” list for later on.
Also, that written log can sometimes be helpful just to look back on and realize that you did have a good day recently. All is not lost! “It often may feel like you’re stuck in a rut that’s much more short lived when you can really track and see that you were, in fact, in a good mood for many days just recently,” Goldberg adds.
3. How do I talk to myself when I feel good?
It’s no surprise that our inner monologue tends to be a lot nicer on our good days than on our bad days. But looking for actual proof of this may help you correct that solo conversation next time. “Spend a few minutes a few times each day tuning into your thoughts and recognizing how you think when you’re in a good mood,” Goldberg recommends. How do you talk to yourself? What sort of language do you use? What do you say or think when you look in the mirror? How does this make you feel overall?
If you can, physically write down some of the nice things you find yourself thinking or saying to yourself on these good days. That way, you’ll have some positive words ready to counteract the less-than-awesome narrative that tends to fill your head on bad mental health days.
4. What happened yesterday?
So, you’re having a great day. Congrats! But like…why though? No, seriously, do you remember what happened right before this absolute gem of a day? What led up to this moment of happiness and emotional ease? Goldberg suggests reflecting on what habits or behaviors got you to this point.
Maybe you got better sleep or your evening routine was on point, ventures Goldberg. Or maybe you spent last night doing something you actually love—reading, crafting, having a long phone call with an old friend—rather than scrolling through TikTok while Netflix played in the background (why are we like this?). If you can pinpoint some things that could have led up to this moment, then you try to hack your future routine in a way that leads to even more good days.
5. What went right today?
On that note, what’s going on today that’s summoning these immaculate vibes? Siobhan D. Flowers, PhD, LPC-S, therapist in private practice and adjunct professor at New York University, likes to get her patients into the habit of reflecting on their day and writing down what went well. Whether you’re having a great day or a meh one, picking out anything that contributed to some good feelings is helpful, because it clues you into all the big and little stuff that makes you happy. For example, she says, if you typically deal with a lot of anxiety, note if there was something you found super relaxing or that brought you some sense of calm.
And, you guessed it, these insights will come in clutch the next time you’re in a crap mood, because you can try your best to mimic those moments that made you feel wonderful. “You don't want to minimize when you’re having a good day because there may be something really powerful that you can tap into when things aren’t going well,” Dr. Flowers adds.
6. What else am I feeling?
Feeling great is awesome, so by all means soak up the goodness of your day. But if there’s something specific you’ve been working through, this might also be a good time to dig deeper and address anything you’ve maybe pushed aside while operating in survival mode, says Spinelli. Ask yourself, “What other, more specific feelings can I identify?” she suggests. There might be some other things that come up for you—maybe even some things that you haven’t had the mental or emotional capacity to address if you’ve been feeling down overall. This one can be particularly helpful if you’re in therapy and show up for your session thinking, Everything’s great! I have nothing to talk about! In fact, sometimes that’s when the best work happens.
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.