Whether you can relate to Lana Del Rey’s summertime sadness or you’ve been down in the dumps since 2020, dealing with negative feelings is never fun. However, there are plenty of easy ways to boost your mood, no matter who you are or what’s got you down.
1. Soak Up the Sun
Spending time in nature is a great way to boost your spirits. Soak up some sunshine while you’re out there and you’ll reap even more benefits. That’s because ultraviolet rays initialize vitamin D synthesis, a process that effectively increases serotonin levels and your overall happiness. Vitamin D can also spur neural growth, which can improve mood.
2. Crack a Smile
Conventional wisdom tells you to slap on a smile if you want to feel happier, and recent studies have confirmed this to be true. Based on a meta-analysis of 138 studies, researchers have found that facial expressions do, in fact, have a small impact on mood. Thus, scowling will make you feel angrier whereas smiling will make you feel less so. Want an instant pick-me-up, try turning that frown upside down.
3. Breathe Mindfully
Mindful breathing exercises can also ease anxiety and increase feelings of contentment. Find a comfortable place to sit, stand or lie down and spend a few minutes focusing on your inhales and exhales. Allow your belly to expand and contract with each breath and try to relax your shoulders away from your ears. Practice this technique anytime, anywhere and notice how your mood shifts.
4. Jam Out
Sometimes, music is the best medicine for a gloomy soul. Find an upbeat playlist, cue your favorite tunes and crank that stereo up. Feel free to dance, sing and jive to your heart’s content. If you’re feeling up to it, you might even invite a few friends over for a dance party or jam session in the garage. By the time you’re done belting out lyrics, bouncing around and hammering on the guitar, you’ll likely feel a whole lot better.
5. Move Your Body
Maintaining an active lifestyle can protect your physical body from disease, injury and weight gain. However, it also does wonders for your mental health. Regular exercise positively impacts serotonin levels in your brain, which can induce feelings of happiness and boost your overall sense of wellbeing. Even just 15 minutes of higher-intensity exercise can prevent depression and other mood disorders. So get up and move!
6. Phone a Friend
Even as the U.S. recovers from the pandemic, many people are still struggling with lingering feelings of loneliness. If you can relate, maybe it’s time to phone a friend and schedule a day to hang out. Simply talking to another person can make you feel happier and, if you have a date to look forward to, that positive feeling might last for days. If you’re both comfortable sharing hugs, greeting your pal with a warm embrace might also boost your mood as the physical connection releases oxytocin.
7. Nourish Yourself
Nourishing your body with healthy foods and plenty of water is a great option for anyone who wants to live a long, happy life. While most whole foods support optimal mental health, certain foods have been shown to be more effective than others when it comes to boosting happiness levels. For instance, fatty fish, which contains omega-3s, can decrease your risk of depression while chocolate can increase blood flow to the brain and support mood regulation.
8. Practice Gratitude
If you’ve ever kept a gratitude journal, you know just how powerful thanksgiving can be. Giving thanks on a daily basis can help you sleep better, improve relationships and lower stress, all of which can boost your mood. Making a habit of counting your blessings can also encourage you to look at the bright side, even if some things don’t go according to plan.
9. Hit the Hay
As tempting as it may be to plop down in front of the TV at night, try to hit the hay early. Doing so will help you get some extra shuteye, which could improve your mood. That’s because getting a good night’s sleep can alleviate feelings of depression and irritability. Plus, you’ll find it easier to focus and remember things the following day, which can enhance productivity, boost alertness, strengthen relationships and increase self-confidence.
10. Take a Media Hiatus
While social media can aid in creating and maintaining social connections, excessive use can also fuel feelings of depression, dissatisfaction and anxiety. Maybe others’ posts make you feel inadequate or the fear of missing out has you impulsively checking your phone. Either way, taking a break from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can positively impact your mental health. The longer your hiatus, the more satisfied you’ll be with your life and the more time you’ll have to invest in physical relationships.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to create and choose your own happiness. Find that silver lining, look at the bright side and try to stay positive. Eventually, these conscious behaviors will become habits so you don’t have to think twice about pointing out the good in any and every situation.