We all find ourselves feeling down and out on occasion. But good news: it’s ways easier (and faster) than you’d think to turn your frown upside-down. What follows are 20 amazing tricks that are guaranteed to cheer yourself up. Oh, and the best part? They’re all easily accessible, inexpensive, and take almost no time at all. In just a few minutes, you could be feeling like your old self again. And when you’re ready to improve your mood for good, try out these 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy!
Try Rapid Thinking
If you’re feeling blue and the concept of clearing your mind and meditating sounds completely impossible, try the opposite. Researchers from Princeton and Harvard found that having people brainstorm up as many solutions to a problem as possible in 10 minutes (they didn’t even have to be good solutions) made people feel elated, creative, energetic, and powerful. And when you want to give your brain an additional boost, try out these 13 Tips For a Sharper Brain!
Try Some Aromatherapy
Research conducted at Ohio State University found that lemon essential oil causes an immediate measurable improvement in mood, so carry a bottle around and take a whiff if you’re feeling down, or keep lemons around the house. You can bring oil to the surface by dragging your nail across its surface or by twisting the peel before dropping it into glass of water.
Surprisingly, lavender oil was not found to improve mood, despite its reputation for calming frazzled nerves. However, there’s no denying the power of the placebo effect, so if it works for you, by all means don’t stop. And for more ways to calm down in a hurry, try out these 13 Best Non-Exercise Stress Busters.
Pet a Dog
Just 10 minutes of petting a dog can increase your levels of oxytocin, a hormone that has effects similar to anti-depressants, according to research from Uppsala University in Sweden. And it turns out that, the stronger the bond you have with the dog, the greater the effect. And if you want to seriously strengthen that bond, learn Why You Should Talk to Your Dog Like It’s a Baby.
Have Some Chocolate
A study published in Nutrition Reviews found that chocolate has definite mood-improving qualities. So if you’re feeling down, indulge in a little bit of the sweet stuff. Don’t overdo it though; you want to feel better, not guilty. And for more reasons to indulge, Learn How Chocolate Will Boost Your Workout.
Getting a hug releases oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine—a triple whammy of feel-good neurotransmitters that will lift your mood, for sure. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, while dopamine is the neurotransmitter that gives us feelings of pleasure and helps us enjoy life. Oxytocin is known as “the love hormone” and can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, in addition to promoting social bonding. And for more ways affection can affect your mood, Here’s Why Scientists Say Holding Hands Is Amazing for You.
Look Through a Photo Album
A study conducted by Open University Doctor of Psychology Peter Naish for Orange Photography found that flipping through a photo album consistently improved moods by 11 percent. Digital photos also work, so you don’t have to lug a big book around with you if you want to feel better fast. And for more ways to boost your mood, try out these 50 Amazing Jokes You Can Text to Friends!
Make Some Art
Creative expression—whether that’s painting, playing an instrument, writing, dancing, or anything that flexes your creative muscle—can all improve your mood, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. If you can’t express yourself for whatever reason, there’s good news. The same study also reported that merely observing something creative can lift your spirits, so cue up the Bob Ross and get ready to feel better. And to hone your artsy tendencies, master the 6 Ways to Become a Creative Genius.
Stand Up Straight
If you find yourself feeling down in the dumps, try standing or sitting up straight, with your shoulders back and your head up, instead of slouching with your arms crossed over your chest. This kind of stance is called a “power pose,” and can actually make you feel more powerful to the extent that it can even alter the course of your day, according to research published by the Association of Psychological Science. Improving your mood isn’t the only perk of good posture. If you find yourself stiff or sore at the end of the day, ask yourself What Is Tech Neck, and Do I Have It?
A study published in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences found that chewing flavored gum can trigger a state of “relaxed concentration” similar to that of monks who practice Zen meditation. Peppermint flavor, specifically, increased cognitive function and was found to have a mentally relaxing effect. And for more snacks that improve your happiness and your health, add these 40 Best Foods For Your Brain to your menu.
Singing requires good posture and regulated deep breathing, both of which can improve your mood. On top of that, it reduces stress, boosts endorphins, and releases oxytocin, according to music therapist Melissa Wenszell. All these things combined makes singing a great way to put yourself in a good mood. And to really make the most of it, cue up the karaoke and laugh yourself silly with the 30 Funniest Lines From Country Songs.
Having a good laugh can improve your mood by lowering your levels of stress and depression, according to research conducted at Ohio State University, so hit up YouTube and watch a funny video if you’re feeling down.
In addition to causing a release of oxytocin, kissing is a great way to get a rush of dopamine, the feel-good chemical that has you walking on cloud nine in the beginning stages of a relationship. So, if you’ve got somebody you can lock lips with, a little smooch might be just what the doctor ordered.
Take Deep Breaths
Deep, regular breathing, defined as breaths taken through the nose that fully expand your abdomen before being released, can help calm down a stress response and help you get back to feeling like a million bucks. Making a conscious effort to take deep breaths is a great way to get your body to relax and can cheer you up in no time.
It turns out there’s a reason people say to “grin and bear it.” Research published by the Association for Psychological Science found that regardless of whether a person was actually happy or not, smiling lowers the body’s stress response. So, if stress has got you feeling bad, crack a grin. Even if you’re not actually feeling happy, your lowered stress level could have you feeling cheerier in no time.
If you’re in a slump and exercise is the absolute last thing you want to do, there’s good news for you: The tonal opposite of exercise can also boost your mood. Meditating is a quick way to wipe away the stress that’s bringing you down. And research published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice found that a regular meditation practice can provide an overall reduction of depression and anxiety, so you can actually reap benefits in the short and long term. To make the most of your moments of solace, brush up on these 10 Ways to Focus Better During Meditation.
Listen to Happy Music
If you’ve long-suspected that pump up music makes you feel good, there’s science to back you up. Research conducted at the University of Missouri found that cheery music—in this case, peppy tunes by composer Aaron Copeland, as opposed to more dour-sounding songs by Stravinsky—improves mood both right away and in the long-term. If you can dance along without publicly embarrassing yourself, that’s a feel-good double whammy.
Going out for a walk can increase creativity, and being creative can improve your mood. Sunlight also provides exposure to Vitamin D, which can alleviate seasonal depression. In addition, a walk can lower stress. All told, getting outside is a great way to cheer yourself up if you’re feeling down.
By this point, pretty much everyone has heard of a runner’s high. The rush of endorphins you get from exercise isn’t a myth. More vigorous exercise guarantees a bigger rush, though, so you might consider sprinting in spurts. Fortunately, even milder forms of exercise like walking around the block can improve your mood, according to the Mayo Clinic, so you don’t have to gear up and make a whole production of it, if your schedule doesn’t comply.
Call a Friend
Experiencing a positive event in your day is a great way to cheer yourself up, and having a conversation with a friend is a great way to do that. Just make sure the friend you reach out to is somebody who’s generally positive; happiness is contagious, but so are negative feelings, according to research published in Edge. When it’s your turn to be the positive friend, share these 40 Random Facts So Funny You’ll Be Dying to Tell Your Friends About Them.
Carbohydrates make it possible for more tryptophan to enter your brain. Once it’s there, your brain starts producing more of the feel-good hormone serotonin. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy carbs like whole grains. You don’t want a blood sugar spike to set you up for misery when you come crashing down later. And if you want to learn which carbs are decidedly not the devil, start eating any of The 10 Healthiest Carbs That Won’t Derail Your Six-Pack.
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