Breaking out of a “slump”: 10 small actions you can take to help you get through a tough day 

Whether you call it a “slump” or “funk”, we all experience off days sometimes when we’re feeling down, find it hard to focus, or need some extra support. Remember that it’s okay to feel this way and try not to be too hard on yourself.  

There are a variety of small actions you can take to help you get through a slump while still caring for yourself. However, if you need to take the whole day to rest, doing nothing is also okay. You know yourself and what you need best.  

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, and it can be challenging to find the motivation to do something. If a task feels too hard, take things one step at a time, or move towards the action until you have the energy to complete it. This can even be as simple as moving to the room you need to be in, even if you can’t bring yourself to start the task yet.  

Check out these small steps to help you get through the day: 

Practice grace, compassion, and gratitude for yourself 

While it’s easier said than done, try not to criticize or be hard on yourself. Gently remind yourself of what you are grateful for, what you are proud of, and what you are looking forward to. Remind yourself that everyone has good days and bad days, and that’s okay. 

Take a shower or bath 

Try to imagine yourself washing away all the stress you’ve been experiencing. 

Drink water 

Make sure you continue to hydrate throughout the day and don’t forget to drink water. Keep a reusable bottle or glass with you. If you find it helpful, you can always set a reminder on your phone for actions like eating, drinking water, and taking medication(s). 

Eat a meal 

Either prepare something for yourself or order food. It doesn’t have to be a complicated dish, but try to eat a full meal. Some examples of quick meals you can prepare that don’t involve much effort include pasta, rice and beans, peanut butter sandwiches, and frozen meals.  

Engage in a grounding or mindfulness activity to bring yourself back into the present moment 

There are lots of different grounding and mindfulness activities you can do. For example… 

  • Wash your hands and focus solely on the task. Feel the warm water and soap on your hands. Count to twenty if it helps you focus. 
  • Use the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. 
  • Hold something hot or cold in your hands. Focus on the temperature and sensation on your skin. 
  • Go for a walk if you are able to. Pay attention to your surroundings and notice everything around you, including how your body feels. 
  • Describe your surroundings. You can write down your descriptions or just list them in your head. 
  • Listen to music and really focus on the lyrics, beat, or melody. 
  • Close your eyes and envision your favorite place or favorite person. Picture them in your mind. Try to make the image as detailed as possible. For example, if your favorite place is the beach, imagine how the sand feels between your toes, how the ocean sounds as it washes ashore, and how it smells. Try to remember the feeling of the sun on your skin. Envision all the colors, sights, sounds, and sensations. 
  • Get in touch with your body in the present moment. How does it feel to sit in your chair? How do your clothes feel on your skin? How do your feet feel planted on the floor? 
  • Take several long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

Do a “brain dump” 

Write down everything that is on your mind. This can be a list of tasks you need to do, things you are worried about, and anything else that crosses your mind. If you have a thought, write it down. Getting these thoughts out and down on paper can help you process them. If you end up creating a to-do list, try not to put pressure on yourself to get the items done. Just focus on getting them down on paper. 

Spend time with a loved one 

If you can’t be with them physically, call them and talk with them. Reach out to your support system. 

Move your body in a way that feels good for you 

Some examples of movement include yoga, stretching, dancing, walking, running, hiking, swimming, lifting weights, and more. Pick something that feels best for you and focus on how it makes you feel rather than forcing yourself to exercise out of obligation.  

Spend time outside in nature 

In addition to the many benefits of being in the natural sunlight including boosting your mood and improving your sleep, being outdoors can help you to feel more connected to nature and the world around you. If you can’t make it outside, open your curtains or blinds to let the natural light in.  


Have you ever heard the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine?” Laughter can improve your mood, relieve stress, and help your entire body feel more relaxed. The next time you’re feeling out of it, try putting on your favorite comedy or text that one friend who you know can always make you laugh. 

If you find yourself consistently feeling down or depressed, support and resources are available. You do not have to navigate a difficult time alone. Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) offers free individual and group therapy for all Ohio State students, as well as workshops and referrals to community providers. The Student Wellness Center also offers free individual and group wellness coaching. If you are not sure what resource will be the best fit, check out this list of mental health support resources. No concern is ever too small.  


-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant 

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