A rough day: we all have them. Yet no day is so rough that it should shake your faith in the Internet as, if not a universal cure, than a widely applicable balm. Here are 5 ways the Internet can cheer you up when you’re blue:
- Create something. Upload a picture. Edit and share a video. Write a heartfelt blog post. Creativity is enormously healing, so make sure you have at least one established, accessible outlet for your creativity.
- Listen to good advice. Lots of sites are on standby, ready to offer you resources like 25 ways to improve your mood. If that doesn’t help, try 39 ways to boost your mood.
- Resist temptation. Some online activities that usually feel useful or enjoyable, like looking at your Facebook or Twitter updates, may be hard to take when you’re feeling low. “Why wasn’t I invited to that party?”, you wonder. “Look at all the great things these other, non-depressed people are doing!” If your social network checkins leave you prone to FOMO or self-criticism, skip the networking until you’re back in good spirits.
- Tell the truth. If you’re feeling low because you’ve done something wrong, or for some other reason you don’t feel comfortable discussing with your friends, the Internet is your ticket to the power of conversation. Take a weight off your shoulders by confessing your secrets on a site like PostSecret or Group Hug.
- Indulge a hobby. Tackle a long-deferred project, like crafts or home improvements, by getting how-to advice from a site like Instructables.
- Find birds of a feather. Whatever ails you, chances are that several hundred, thousand or million other people are going through something similar. Find an online forum, blog or social network for people facing the same challenge, and consider keeping your participation anonymous so that you can be candid about the support you need. (Depending on the subject, you may want to consider a proxy server and disposable email address so that your participation is entirely untraceable.)
- Ask for it. Need a little extra love? Tweet, Facebook or blog your need for a boost — judiciously. Judiciously means limiting your requests for love to a maximum of one a month, and to writing your request in a way that is genuine without sounding so needy, whiny or vulnerable that it makes other people uncomfortable. Keep it short and sweet: “Feeling blue — Internets, would love a little dose of affection/cheer right now.
- Look at kittens. Or goats snuggling with puppies. Or videos of babies laughing at inanimate objects. The Internet is absolutely plastered with adorable, amusing and (brace yourself) heartwarming pictures and videos. Even if you’re the kind of person who usually uses a “Hanging in there” poster as a dart board, you can allow yourself the occasional moment of sappiness. Just make sure your webcam is off in case you start to tear up.
- Give as good as you get. Even if you don’t believe that what comes around goes around, you may find that cheering up others is a great way to elevate your own mood. Send a “thinking of you” email to a friend who’s been struggling of late; write a loving wall post for a friend who’s just Facebooked a frustration; search Twitter for the word “sad” and send kind words to a random stranger. Get out of your own head, and do something for someone else: it’s a sure-fire boost.
What are your tricks for cheering yourself up online? I’d love to hear them.