Life gets all of us down sometimes. And that’s perfectly normal – you shouldn’t push your sadness, anxiety or loneliness away. But it isn’t helpful to get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, feelings and behavior either.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to instantly boost your mood. You might be tempted to drown your sorrows by eating junk food, having one more glass of wine or obsessively checking your phone. Those actions might brighten your mood for a moment, but they’ll only make you feel even worse afterwards.
To really get out of your funk, take a look at these 45 ways to cheer yourself up when you’re down (that don’t involve ice cream).
- Call a friend to catch up.
- Do something spontaneous and different. Camp out in the living room, try an exotic new cuisine or watch a speak preview in the movie theater. Being surprised – even by yourself – activates the pleasure centre in your brain.
- Make yourself some hot chocolate. A warm mug of cocoa doesn’t just taste comforting, the chocolate also contains chemicals that release feel-good hormones.
- Take a nap. Everything looks rosier after getting some sleep.
- Watch a comedy movie: The Hangover, Yes Man or Crazy, Stupid, Love – anything that makes you giggle.
- Let go of things that weigh you down, from people who drain you to limiting beliefs.
- Sing! Studies revealed that the musical vibrations moving through your body releases the happiness chemicals endorphins and oxytocin.
- Who can resist the cute looks of puppies and kittens?
- Learn something new. Novelty increases dopamine levels in your brain, motivating you to search for a reward. Master the basics of French or Italian, soak up the wisdom from the world’s greatest philosophers, pick up an art history book or work on your programming skills.
- Remember, a cup of tea makes everything better.
- Browse your local bookstore.
- Bring out your inner kid and blow bubbles, build a fort or dig up your old Lego. Play has more transformative power than you might think.
- Make a list of all your accomplishments, big or small. Remind yourself which qualities you’ve used in the past to achieve your goals.
- Be kind and generous to someone else. It may surprise you, but brain-imaging research shows that giving to others is as rewarding as receiving. So do good and feel good at the same time by performing acts of kindness.
- Play your favorite upbeat songs and dance along!
- Go for a walk around the block. Moving your body is a proven way to boost your mood. Maybe you could even buy flowers or a magazine to cheer yourself up?
- Bake healthy thumbprint cookies. The smell in your kitchen alone will take you back to happier times.
- Take a power pose. Unconsciously, your posture influences how you feel. So instead of slouching, stand tall and walk with your head up high.
- Did you know that spending time in the woods has major perks for your health and happiness? Try squeezing in some ‘nature time’ every day to boost your mood.
- Curl up on the couch with some feel-good fiction.
- Create a vision board of who you want to be and the life you want to lead. (But only if visualizing your goals and dreams motivates you – it shouldn’t make you more sad or frustrated!)
- Fly a kite. Imagine your worries and sadness drift away like the clouds in the sky.
- Do you hate the sound of your alarm clock? Start your morning on a better note by leaving the curtains slightly open or use a Wake-Up Light to feel more refreshed.
- If you struggle with your self image or other uncertainties, create a compliment jar to read on bad days.
- Express yourself creatively. Paint, write poetry, knit a comforting blanket or document your daily life in photographs. Art therapy provides distraction, relieves stress and improves you mental health.
- Browse your cookbooks and come up with a weekly meal plan or a festive menu.
- Smile! We smile because we’re happy – but the reverse is also true. The act of putting a smile on your face, even if you don’t feel cheerful, can boost your mood.
- Practice a loving-kindness mediation.
- Do you live close to the beach? Get your vitamin Sea and paddle in the water, build sand castles and look for beautiful shells.
- Change your password to a positive mantra – it may change you life.
- Make lists of all the cool things you hope to do one day and start planning to make it happen.
- Write postcards to your friends.
- You know how an intense workout gives you a ‘high’? That’s because exercising triggers the release of endorphins – natural painkillers and feel-good chemicals- in your body.
- Go analogue for a day. Yes, you’ll miss your favorite shows, updates from friends and interesting podcasts. But you might also reconnect with activities you used to enjoy, like playing board games and doing crafts.
- Hug your kids, partner or pet.
- Open your curtains and let the natural daylight in. This triggers the production of serotonin and fine tunes your biological clock.
- Create a Pinterest board with quotes and images that cheer you up.
- Treat yourself to an inspiring coffee table book, like Jimmy Nelson’s Before They Pass Away; National Geographic Journeys of a Lifetime; or The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman.
- Dress up. Like the saying goes, never underestimate the power of high heels and red lipstick.
- Work with your hands. From woodworking to gardening and quilting, research has shown that creating things by hand reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
- Watch an inspiring TED-talk.
- Give your morning routine a makeover. The things you do after getting up in the morning set the tone for the day ahead. Instead of snoozing your alarm and drowsily scrolling through your email, why not do something for 6 minutes that nourishes your mind, body and soul?
- Keep a happy journal. Each morning, write down your positive intentions for the day and at night, reflect on what made you happy.
- Finish a project that’s been on your to-do list for ages. You’ll be relieved to finally put it out of your mind, plus, accomplishing a task gives you a dopamine boost.
- Going through a tough period? Create your own coping box to help you get through bad days.
What do you do to cheer yourself up when you’re down?
This blog post contains affiliate links to resources I thought you might find helpful, at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
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