There are some basics that if you read enough finance magazines/articles that end up getting repeated all the time. The basics is that most finance managers can't beat the S&P 500 on a consistent basis, about 75%, but you can do some research and maybe you'll find the other 25% that do it occasionally or long enough to beat the S&P 500 returns. Seems like a Nasdaq index fund has been doing that lately. The other is to stay fully invested. It's hard to time the market, some people get it right by getting out on time, but don't time when they get back in. Some might get lucky but can they do it consistently? There's been about 4 big drops since the 90. I've heard of way too many people who got out early than got out on time. You could also consider my advice conservatives. Beating those other 75% only gives you a B, some here do better with A or higher. But if you trade in or out go with high commissions or risky stuff, you could do much worse than 75%.
I remember telling a secretary once who was just saving her 401k money in a money market account. I told her to stick it in an S&P 500 index fund. A few years later she had made thousands, she said thanks.
You also don't mention how old you are. But low risk means locking in the risk that you'll be poor. If you don't need the money for 10+ years, you put the money in an index fund. Read some of the performance numbers for two funds I posted earlier. Some years it's down but over the long term of a 10 year period, it's been up. If you need your money in 1-3 years, I wouldn't bother with an index fund, but if you're saving for retirement then indexing is one of the safest ways to go. Low risk just means eliminating the possibility of higher returns.
As for being thousands lower, well, you just get used to it. You're just picking the wrong time to look. It's usually the other way, thousands higher when the market is up. Usually that takes longer, streaks are typically up over several days so you could be up thousands or tens of thousands over the week. But of course drops can be much steeper and you could be down 10k+ on a bad day. You just get used to it, no exclamation marks...