50 Easy Things You Can Do Every Day to Feel Amazing
No pills and no potions here. Check out these easy, science-backed ways to add more optimism to your life.
Being happy is much easier said than done. In fact, according to the 2017 Harris Poll, a longtime survey on Americans' happiness, just 33 percent of us say that we're happy. It might seem impossible to get that statistic up, but there are plenty of things you can do to combat those negative emotions preventing you from reaching peak joy. Here, we've compiled 50 easy ways to feel amazing every day, from the moment you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow at night. These tiny free tips will have you feeling much happier, more appreciative, and excited for each day life brings in no time!
Drink more water
Want to feel amazing in mere seconds? Drink up!
"Most people don't drink enough water," says Stephanie Paver, a registered dietician based in Scottsdale, Arizona. "By simply increasing your intake of this essential nutrient, you can improve energy, gain mental clarity and alertness, improve blood sugar balance, reduce headaches, mitigate constipation, and avoid urinary tract infections and kidney stones." And who doesn't want all that?
Have a good laugh
Whether you get there by reading a few corny jokes or watching a funny movie, laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to your general wellbeing. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that Laughter Yoga—a combination of unconditioned laughter and yoga-style breathing—helped combat depressive symptoms and improved subjects' overall satisfaction with their lives.
Pet an animal
The key to feeling amazing? Spending time with your furry friends. In a 2019 study published in the journal AERA Open, university students who pet a cat or dog for just 10 minutes saw significant reductions in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Or watch a cute animal video
Who doesn't love seeing adorable creatures living their best lives? Actually, taking some time to watch a cute animal video may even make you more productive.
In a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS One, participants looked at cute animal images and then were asked to perform a series of tasks. The researchers found that "participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images." Now you have the perfect excuse to fall down a #dogsofinstagram rabbit hole!
Give someone a compliment
If you want to feel great about yourself and spread some positivity to others as well, try giving someone a compliment. Tell a coworker they did a great job on a project, tell a friend how great their new haircut looks, or just remind your pet that they're the best boy in the world. As long as you're saying something nice and genuine, you're guaranteed to get an instant mood boost.
Jot down your feelings
Even if not all of your feelings are good, writing them down can make you feel better in the long run. In fact, according to a 2010 study of PTSD sufferers published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, those who did expressive writing exercises were able to reduce their body's stress response to triggering memories.
And include what you're grateful for
A little gratitude can go a long way when it comes to feeling amazing. "Keeping track of the things in your life that are going well is a proven way of maintaining happiness," says therapist Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center. "Before you go to bed at night, write down three things you're grateful for. These can be as grand as your spouse, your friends, or the ability to see, and as small as the delicious truffle you had for dessert."
Enjoy some tech-free time before bed
Spending time away from your devices, especially at night, will put you on the fast-track to happiness. "Having your phone/tablet in your bedroom is often too tempting and you end up scrolling through social media or watching Netflix. Not only is this not productive or relaxing, [but] screens emit blue light, which reduce sleep quality," says osteopath Charlotte Wood of Lavender Healthcare in Stevenage, England. "Try leaving your gadgets downstairs to help you get a better sleep and you can start the morning by thinking about your day, rather than instantly looking at Facebook."
Step back from social media
Yes, social media specifically can have myriad negative effects on your mental health. That's why it pays to limit the time you spend scrolling through your Instagram and Twitter feeds. In fact, in one 2018 study published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, researchers found that limiting social media usage reduced participants' feelings of depression and loneliness.
Make sleep a priority
Spending even just 60 more minutes in bed each day can make a major difference when it comes to your overall wellbeing. That's because "sleep is the most critical daily 'activity' needed for healing, repairing, and keeping the immune system fully functioning," says Paver.
"Sleep deprivation is linked to chronic illness, slowed reaction time, increased risk of injury and accidents, lowered productivity, depression, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain." Her suggestion? Try to hit the hay shortly after sunset and wake up close to sunrise when you can.
"Always draw boundaries between things that promote your wellbeing and those that derail your happiness," says psychologist Sal Raichbach, PsyD, of the Ambrosia Treatment Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. "One of the most valuable skills to increase your quality of life is by learning how to say no to things that don't add value to your life. Too often, people fall into the trap of saying yes to please others at their own expense. Remember that you're allowed to say no, especially if saying yes will get in the way of achieving your goals."
Spend time alone
A little time by yourself might be just what you need to start each day with gusto—especially if you're an intellectual. Per a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Psychology, more time spent socializing is associated with lower overall life satisfaction in highly intelligent individuals.
Take some deep breaths
Whenever you want to feel absolutely amazing, all you have to do is take a few deep breaths. "Breathe deeply when you're at a stoplight, stuck in traffic, on a tough call, in a frustrating meeting, soaking in the tub, having dinner with your family—anytime," explains Kimberly Wilson, a therapist in Washington, D.C., and author of Year of Tranquility.
How exactly should you be breathing? "Draw the breath in through the nose and fill your belly, ribcage, and chest," Wilson says. "Exhale through the nose and release your chest, ribcage, and belly." It's as simple as that!
Indulge your creative side
Whether you're painting, drawing, needlepointing, or throwing clay, indulging your creative impulses can yield major results when it comes to improving your mood. Spending even just 30 minutes a day on those artistic endeavors can help clear your mind and make tackling what's ahead seem less daunting.
Do something kind for a stranger
Whether you're putting a few coins in a recently expired meter or helping your neighbor get their groceries home, making an effort to do something kind for someone else can make a major difference in their wellbeing and yours.
Put on an outfit you feel confident in
Clothes don't make you who you are, but an outfit you feel confident in can make all the difference when it comes to how you feel. Dressing to the nines in your favorite ensemble will brighten any day—even if you're just spending it at home.
Stop and smell the roses—literally
Sniffing a bouquet of flowers at your local florist or going for a walk in a nearby botanical garden can make you feel amazing in an instant. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine even found that patients in post-surgical recovery had lower blood pressure, reduced fatigue, and less anxiety when in a room filled with flowers.
Spend time in nature
Better yet, if you can walk among the flowers in their natural habitat, you'll be one step closer to feeling amazing. In a 2018 review of research published in PLoS One, scientists discovered that increased exposure to green space was associated with greater mental wellbeing.
Get some sunshine
Shout it out
Shouting at another person will only serve to worsen your bad mood and whatever is causing it. However, if you're having a tough day, it's fine to scream out that frustration, whether into a pillow, a mirror, or a wide-open space. Once you've done so, you'll quickly feel as though a weight has been lifted.
Do a puzzle
Even if you don't have time today to achieve your long-term goals, that doesn't mean you can't give yourself a taste of the satisfaction that comes from completing a task. For example, doing a puzzle can grant you the gratification of seeing something through from start to finish all while having some fun along the way.
Or play a game
Whether you're breaking out the Scrabble board or playing Mario Kart, taking a break from the stresses of your daily life via a fun game can instantly boost your mood. Simply indulge your inner child and you'll feel like you can take on the world.
Make your bed
Want to start your day feeling amazing? Straighten up those sheets the second you wake up. According to Beverly Hills-based, board-certified plastic surgeon Michelle Lee, MD, this "immediately puts you in an organized and positive frame of mind to tackle the rest of the day."
The only thing that feels better than getting a good night's rest is stretching when you wake up. And don't just take our word for it: In a 2016 study published in the journal Menopause, just 10 minutes of daily stretching over a three-week period reduced subjects' levels of self-reported depression.
Use some positive affirmations
While you may feel a bit silly saying them at first, repeating some positive affirmations every morning can make you feel better about yourself in no time. That's because, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, self-affirmation stimulates parts of the brain associated with the anticipation and receipt of rewards.
Talk out your feelings
Instead of letting those feelings of frustration boil over after bottling them up for a long time, try talking about your issues with someone as soon as they come up. Addressing what's making you upset can keep your resentment from snowballing and leading to an angry outburst that has dire consequences.
Drink green juice
If you want to start every morning with a smile, then consider making green juice your go-to breakfast staple. "This is an immediate pick-me-up, as the chlorophyll brings you more energy and more oxygen while also alkalizing the body. Wheatgrass juice is the best, as it's full of minerals," says Susan Schenck, LAc, MTOM, award-winning author of The Live Food Factor and Beyond Broccoli.
Snack on some dark chocolate
A taste of dark chocolate could be just what you need in order to put yourself in a good mood. "It contains flavanols that promote blood flow to the brain, and heart, and body in general," says Schenck. Not only that, but "the phenylalanine in chocolate improves the mood by increasing the brain's neurotransmitters of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine."
Hit the floor for some yoga
Even if you're not quite ready to take on crow pose, doing some yoga poses on your back can make you feel equally amazing. "This gets the spinal fluid moving and feels like a massage, giving an immediate pickup and greatly diminishing depression," explains Schenck.
A little mindfulness can go a long way when it comes to making yourself feel amazing. According to a 2014 review of research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation and mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and even physical pain.
Reminisce about good memories
Want to feel great without spending a dime? Bust out those old photo albums and think back on happy memories. A 2017 study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior reveals that reminding yourself of positive past events can reduce your body's response to stress.
Get a massage
Even if you don't have time to hit the spa, having your friend or partner give you a quick massage can be a major pick-me-up. Just a few minutes can reduce your levels of cortisol, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience.
Clean up your space
According to a 2016 study published in the journal SSRN, chaotic and cluttered environments can trigger coping mechanisms like stress-eating—so channel your inner Marie Kondo and get organized! Even if it's just your desk or nightstand, a little bit of cleaning can make you feel a whole lot better.
Sit up straight
Good posture does more than make you look good; it can make you feel good, too. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that individuals with depression who sat upright both reduced fatigue and improved their mental wellbeing.
Smile at a stranger
Smiling can make you feel just as good on the inside as you'll look doing it on the outside. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Science, people who smiled during a strenuous task had a lower heart rate along with a reduced overall stress response. That just goes to show there's truth to the phrase "grin and bear it."
Or talk to a stranger
Hanging out with friends can be a great pick-me-up—but if everyone is busy, talking to strangers may give you a similar boost. According to a 2013 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, study participants who had short conversations with baristas had a more positive perspective than those who kept the transaction short and sweet.
Give someone a hug
Whether you're giving your partner a squeeze or just hugging a close pal, the very act of embracing someone else can make you feel pretty amazing. Studies not only show that hugging can improve your mental wellbeing, but a 2014 study published in Psychological Science even reveals that hugging someone can reduce your risk of getting sick.
Start your day with a cold shower
Sure, warm showers feel nice, but it's those cold ones that help kick your day into high gear. In addition to being an energizing way to wake up in the morning, a 2016 study published in PLoS One found that study participants who took cold showers took fewer sick days than those who maintained their typical warm shower routine.
Take a long walk
Or go for a run
Even if you don't have a gym membership, heading out for a jog in the park can still get you that coveted runner's high. In a 2018 study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, after two hours of endurance running, study subjects reported significant increases in their feelings of euphoria.
Do a review of your finances
Money can't buy you happiness, but that doesn't mean it can't make you feel pretty great. In Northwestern Mutual's 2018 Planning and Progress Study, 87 percent of individuals polled said that having their finances in order made them feel both happier and more confident. So if you need a boost, go ahead and check those bank accounts, pay off that credit card bill, or put a few bucks into savings.
Hide money to find later
Who doesn't love finding a surprise $20 in the pocket of a jacket they haven't worn for months? If you want to help your future self feel amazing, hide a few bucks to find later—and when you do find the spare change, treat yourself to a sweet treat.
Complete a task you've been putting off
Procrastinating may be easier than tackling all the tasks you've been avoiding, but it rarely feels good in the long run. So, if you want to feel amazing today, complete a task you've been putting off. Even if it's as simple as taking out the trash or calling a family member, getting it done will definitely boost your overall contentment.
Try something new
Having a sense of accomplishment can make anyone feel pretty great—and trying something will give you that feeling. Just knowing you're challenging yourself is enough to put a smile on your face all day long.
Even if you're not exactly Ginger Rogers, busting a move can make you feel pretty great. In addition to the psychological and physical benefits of the exercise you're getting, a 2014 study published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills links dancing to a reduction in depressive symptoms among stressed individuals.
Listen to your favorite song
Pump up that favorite song and sing along if you want to feel great. In one 2019 survey from Sonos, listening to music was associated with reduced stress, increased productivity, and a confidence boost to boot.
Pop a blue bulb into your lamp
Want to feel better in no time? Put a blue bulb in the lamp next to your bed. A 2017 study published in PLoS One found that among a group of adult subjects, exposure to blue light was associated with the fastest rate of de-stressing following an anxiety-inducing situation.
Pack some healthy between-meal snacks
Running to the vending machine at work between breakfast and lunch may solve your hunger, but it probably won't make you feel great in the long run. Thankfully, taking just 15 minutes each week to portion out healthy snacks with a mixture of protein and carbs can prevent you from reaching that hangry state that makes you irritable and distracted. Not only that, but prepping snacks will also save you money and keep your health goals on track!
Say thank you
Whether you're thanking the barista who made your coffee or thanking your parents for their love and support, expressing your gratitude to others can make you feel fantastic. In fact, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people actually enjoy greater physical health. There's no time like the present to start saying your "thanks you's."
Pat yourself on the back
It's time to be your biggest cheerleader, because feeling a sense of accomplishment for a job well done can instantly make you feel amazing. A little affirmation from your numero uno—yourself!—can make all the difference in your mood and overall wellbeing.