23 Instant Mood Boosts You’ll Want to Make a Habit

When you’re down in the dumps, give yourself a dose of happiness.

1/23 View as List

Break out of your routine


Get out of a rut by adding variety to your usual routine. Go to a nice restaurant on a random Tuesday, drive a different route to work, or pick an outfit unlike what you typically wear.

Just get out and walk


It sounds obvious, but grab your dog, best friend, or your significant other and head out on a brisk walk. Just a little bit of exercise can boost your mood and give you a fresh perspective on problems that have been bothering you. Think walks are boring? Try walking to a place where you can accomplish an errand or treat yourself to something fun. Take a trip to the mall and walk a few laps around this season’s sales, or even walk to get some frozen yogurt. Make it a fun trip and you’ll surely make it part of your routine. Here's how to make your daily walk even happier.

Have an outdoor adventure


Exercising and spending time in nature have both been shown to have mood-boosting effects. Sub out your usual walk around the neighborhood to go biking, hiking, or even kayaking. They’re vigorous exercise but are so fun that you won’t feel like you’re working out.

Eat more fruits and veggies

iStock/Pamela Moore

A healthy diet won’t just benefit your body in the long term—you’ll quickly find yourself with a happier disposition. Australian adults who increased their fruit and vegetable intake also had a boost in life satisfaction, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers looked at food diaries from 2007, 2009, and 2013, and found that those who started eating eight more servings of produce every day had happiness boosts equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. Keep your produce fresh longer with these tips. These are 10 of the healthiest vegetables you can eat.

Bang a drum (or whatever you have on hand)


Drumming could help relax your whole body. One study found that people in a retirement community felt less depressed six weeks after a drumming class than before they started it. A drum circle could have the added bonus of camaraderie, but if that’s not your thing, try rhythmically pounding any object sitting on your desk.

Give it a rest


DVR late-night television and head to bed earlier. Increasing your amount of sleep can reduce your stress level and leave you feeling energized to tackle your day when you wake up. Don't miss these natural ways to sleep better.

Force yourself to smile


The act of smiling actually makes you feel happier, even if you weren’t feeling cheery in the first place. If cheesing it up for no reason sounds, well, cheesy, give yourself a reason to grin. Watch a funny YouTube video, read the comics, or get a joke sent to your email every day. Start by checking out these hilarious restaurant sign fails.

Thank someone


Acknowledge something that someone has done for you and send a note or a small bouquet of flowers. You’ll put a smile on their face and yours. This is the key to writing a truly heartfelt thank-you note.

Play with a dog


Non-pet owners’ levels of mood-boosting chemicals serotonin and oxytocin rose after they played with a dog for just a few minutes, found a University of Missouri study. If you don’t already own a dog, ask to play with a neighbor’s or volunteer at a local animal shelter. Here are more science-backed reasons to spend time with pets.

Compliment a stranger


Love her hair color? Dying to know where he got that awesome hat? Tell someone that you like something that they have and you’re guaranteed to brighten their day. Seeing good things in others will help you start to see good things in yourself. Who knows, you may get an unexpected compliment.

1/23 View as List

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.