Sometimes we just have those days — the ones when we feel overstressed, grumpy, or just like nothing is going our way. It's why having a few ways to instantly feel better can majorly come in handy.
I often find that once something goes wrong in my day, or even at the start of my weekend, I tend to think it's the beginning of a "pattern of badness" and that the whole day is shot. My bad mood and negative-thinking sets a tone, and because of this I often end up just bringing more negativity onto myself.
The truth is, often times if I just mentally reset or take some time to do something small that makes me happy after a stubbed toe or broken mug, I'd feel a whole lot better and even forget about the "bad day" I'm certain I'm going to have. I've also found that the more I force myself to remember that my actions can actively affect my mood — both for better or worse —the better I am at actively doing things that will make me happier.
Because of this, I've compiled a list of nine simple, relatively non-time-consuming things you can do today that will make you feel better almost instantly. Some of these things will just make you feel a little more productive and in-control, and others will simply make you feel good. Either way, they'll all help kick a bad mood to the curb.
1. Organize Your Closet
According to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a lack of organization can have negative effects on our mental health, with women who describe their homes as "cluttered," generally having higher rates of stress and depression as compared to women who described their living spaces as "restful," and "restorative." So when you're feeling out of sorts, go to town on a closet or shelf in your home that consistently feels out of order. Even if it takes a few hours, you will absolutely feel better once it's done.
2. Take Care Of Paper Clutter
This one leap-frogs off number one, especially because, according psychologist Dana Gionta in an article for Psychology Today, the more control we perceive we have over our lives, the less stress we will feel. And this means that piles of paper clutter and stacks of unopened mail is a recipe for increased anxiety in our lives. Take an hour to tackle all of the paper clutter in your home, or better yet, take some time to implement an actual system for dealing with it as it comes in.
Blogger and Slow Your Home podcaster Brooke McAlary recommended investing in a filing cabinet and spending some time putting all unorganized paper in an appropriate file category. She also recommended creating a "to do" pile and keeping it in plain sight, such as keeping bills you need to pay right by your computer.
3. Listen To Music
According to a 2013 study published by the University of Missouri, listening to upbeat music can actually improve your mood. The study's author, Yuna Ferguson, noted that it's important not to overthink, "Am I happy yet?" while listening, and instead just allow yourself to enjoy the experience. So don't be afraid to turn up the jams when you're feeling low.
4. Drink Something Hot
According to a University of Colorado study featured in The Guardian, the mere act of holding a warm beverage in our hands helps put us at ease and even gives us a more positive connotation with people we meet or talk to while we hold it. So grab your favorite mug and put that kettle on!
5. Schedule Something Fun
In a Huffington Post piece on simple ways to feel happier instantly, psychologist Barbara Holstein recommended scheduling something fun that you can look forward to in the relatively immediate future. The anticipation of something like a dinner with friends or even swinging by your favorite take-out place at the end of the day can give you an immediate and sometimes much-needed mood boost.
6. Make Your Bed
This is admittedly a personal tip. There's absolutely nothing like a freshly made bed, and coming home to one after a long day just feels awesome. Plus, in a piece on tips for staying organized on Apartment Therapy professional organizer Jeni Aron said, "A made bed encourages me to hang up clothes and return magazines and books to shelves instead of piling them up on gathered sheets and tilted pillows."
OK, it's not exactly news anymore that exercise makes us feel better, but there's a term called "exercise-induced euphoria" for a reason. In a piece for the American Psychological Association, professor of psychology Michael Otto said, "The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect." So if you're not feeling great, take a brisk walk for 20 minutes or so and regroup — odds are you'll feel better.
8. Call A Friend
According to a piece featured on PBS, research increasingly shows that us humans are incredibly social creatures, and that we're generally happier when with other people than when alone. Because of this, it's important to schedule time with friends and loved ones, and even just calling (not texting) a friend to catch up can instantly make us feel better.
9. Brush Your Teeth And Wash Your Face
In an article on Psych Central, professional life coach Natasha Lindor recommended brushing your teeth and washing your face to help you instantly relax and calm down. “By connecting to something that is part of your ‘start the day’ routine, you give your brain signals that you’re starting fresh," she said. I personally have always found that splashing some water on my face and even applying a little makeup always helps me recenter after a particularly stressful morning.
A bad mood or stressful encounter don't have to ruin your whole day. There are plenty of simple things you can do that will make you feel better almost instantly — and better yet, they often take less than five minutes.