12 Instant Mood Boosters You Won’t Want to Live Without
In real life, achieving an upbeat or relaxed mood can come down to the little things we do for ourselves—or others. We asked happiness experts, social workers, and more what they do to feel good right this instant.
Bring fresh flowers home
As a writer, I often work from home, spending a lot of time on the computer. To stay connected to nature while indoors, I decorate my space with flowers. One of my favorite pick-me-ups is walking to a nearby grocery store to buy inexpensive tea roses, sunflowers, or gerbera daisies to bring home. I put the flowers in mason jars on the windowsill, on my bookcase and at my desk. The sweet smell and colorful sight make me feel light inside. The boost of happiness I get from fresh flowers made me wonder what others do. What I discovered was a slew of readily available (and good-for-you!) ways to feel a variety of positive emotions including energized, calm, empowered, and joyful. Read on for 23 instant mood boosters.
Do an act of kindness
Candace Payne went viral for her infectious laughter when she put on a Chewbacca mask and the Internet hailed her “Chewbacca Mom” after falling in love with her joy. She went on to write Laugh It Up: Embrace Freedom and Experience Defiant Joy. In an email, she told Reader’s Digest, “One of my favorite simple joys is to ‘create’ for others. I think about making something fun/pretty/useful to give away and I get to it. It might be crocheting a hat for a friend, lettering my favorite fun quote in sparkly markers, putting together a grocery bag of goodies and a taco recipe to drop on the doorstep of a neighbor, or causing an unexpected Nerf battle with the hubs after the kids fall asleep. When I do for others, I feel my mood instantly changes. My focus shifts from my problems and helps me find a way to brighten someone else’s day.” Inspired by Candace? Don’t miss 24 stories about the kindness of strangers that’ll make you tear up.
Do 10 jumping jacks
By now, we know that daily exercise brings mental and physical vitality but even if you work out regularly there can be moments during a day or week where you’re tired, unmotivated or in a slump. Gretchen Rubin, the author of the best-selling The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies, has a remedy for such times: She knocks out ten jumping jacks. She says, “Doing jumping jacks always boosts my mood and also gives me a shot of energy. It’s quick and easy—and feels a little goofy.” Find out even more amazing benefits of exercise.
Take a morning bath
Nighttime baths are revered for their ability to reduce stress, but Marie Virella, a New Jersey resident, found that a morning bath helps her start her day on the right foot. Two to three times per week, before work she takes a 15 to 30-minute bath with sea salt, oil (coconut or olive), and lavender essential oil. “It makes me pause even it’s only for a few moments to be alone with my thoughts. I also know that when I do it in the morning I know that I am making my health a priority and making time take care of myself,” she says. Here’s why a grown-up bath is the stress melter you need right now.
Write a list
Therapeutic list making can happen in many forms such as a to-do list, a list of people to reconnect with, or imaginative list like a “desert-island” list. For the past six years or so, that’s just what Thomas Fucaloro, a professional poet in New York City, has done. “(Making lists) help get my wires get uncrossed,” Fucaloro says. “I think in fragments and I think creating lists help put those fragments together and calms me down. It definitely helps my mood and allows for me to create art.” (Some of Fucaloro’s lists were published in a book of poems called There’s Always Tomorrow.) Find out how to start a gratitude journal of your own.
After Jessica Galletta, a Philadelphia-based yoga teacher, read about acupuncture as an alternative to an antidepressant, she gave it a try and found that regular sessions, over time, improved her mood. “I’ve noticed that I always leave with my mood feeling more balanced. I feel calm and more in control of my thoughts. My mind is less clouded.” Here’s how acupuncture works.
Make a stress ball
Tammie Rosenbloom, a Minneapolis-based licensed social worker who owns Walk Talk Therapy LLC, has found that some of her clients are tactile and like to use sensations as a way to calm themselves. So she has them make stress balls by placing rice and essential oils like lavender (a proven stress-reliever) into a balloon. “The action of squeezing a stress ball gives people a way to expel nervous energy. Others report it improves their concentration,” she tells Reader’s Digest. Here are 37 more tips for easing stress.
Make an empowering playlist
Music is scientifically proven to improve focus and lower anxiety among many other health benefits. Molly Gallagher, an actor, writer, and teaching artist in New York, created a Spotify playlist called “Go Molly Go” to power her through her unpredictable life as a freelance artist. Her playlist includes favorites like “Girl is on Fire” by Alicia Keys and “Rise Up” by Andra Day. “I do a lot of writing at my desk in my apartment—submitting for jobs, writing scripts, grant applications, lesson plans—the constant hustle can feel mundane especially if you aren’t seeing the results you want to manifest,” Gallagher says. “I think the playlist reminds me to enjoy the process on a daily basis.” Find out more of the health benefits of music.
Keep a file of uplifting notes
In the email inbox of Aviva Patz, RD.com’s deputy editor, there is a file she keeps for posterity. She says, “I keep messages that make me happy. If I feel blue, I open the file and read the drama teacher’s emails about my daughter’s star performance or my colleague’s message about how much she loves working with me.” Research shows that affirmation boosts self-efficacy so reminding ourselves of kind words we’ve received is bound to provide a boost. Here’s how to give a compliment that sticks.
Surprise someone in need
Molly Butts, a health and physical education teacher in Vermont, often gets her family or a group of students together to make “blessing bags,” (bags filled with essentials such as Kleenex, hand warmers, gloves, granola bars, etc.) for people in need. “One time we gave a bag to a man and his eyes got so big. As we were walking away he opened the bag, took out the toothbrush, started doing a happy dance and kissed the toothbrush,” she shares. “This was incredibly uplifting because we were able to make someone’s life a little bit easier (and bring him joy), with just a toothbrush.”
Don’t miss these stories of inspirational kids doing good in the world including one about a nine-year-old who gave out 3,000 blessing bags.
Wear fuzzy socks
Joy Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker in Georgia has a simple way to feel toasty: wear fuzzy socks. Bonus points if you have fuzzy and funky. “It’s a fun, silly thing that can be your secret for the day, a fun conversation starter when someone sees the socks, or an extra way of showing yourself care when you’re at home. No extra planning or money needed.”
Take a photo
Amanda Stemen, a licensed social worker in California, explains that activities that lead to surges in happiness often have to do with mindfulness. To that end, she knows a photographer who reported feeling happier after spending time taking pictures. “When you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re more easily in the present moment,” she explains. “In the present moment, there is peace and ease when you aren’t worrying about the past or future.” Here are the photos that top photographers say make them happy.