On days when we are feeling down or are having a bad day, it's often good to have some sort of pick-me-up to lighten the mood. Although we can't always spend the day how we would like it, there are little ways to make yourself feel instantly happier, and these tiny tricks happen to be backed by science. Having these tricks up your sleeve can help you on days when you need a quick-fix for feeling glum or out of sorts.
"Our moods can shift rapidly due to our thoughts, physical surroundings, the people we are surrounded by, and of course by mood-altering substances," says Sharon Martin LCSW over email. Since we are so easily influenced, making small changes in the moment can have profound effects, if you're willing to put in just a little bit of effort.
Nothing is worse than feeling down in the dumps in the moment and just wallowing in your pain. Instead of feeling bad for yourself, make some little tweaks that will have you feeling even just a moment of temporary relief. If you're ever feeling a little bummed out or not quite yourself, try these seven ways to feel instantly happier that have been proven by science.
1. Inhale Some Pleasant Scents
If you're feeling a little upset or stressed out, the solution might just be through your nose. A study from the journal Chemical Senses found that the scents of vanilla and clementine boosted people's moods, with the vanilla scent inducing a more relaxed positive state and the clementine creating happy stimulation.
2. Go Outside
Going outside for a walk, or even just basking in the park for 20 minutes, can have a big effect on how you feel. Sunlight boosts your levels of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that is responsible for your mood. One study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that people who were exposed to one hour of light everyday for three weeks showed improved mood and reduced stress that lasted into the evening.
3. Listen To Some Upbeat Music
Jamming out to your favorite tunes can help you feel better — but there's a catch: you must listen to music with the intention of improving your mood. Research from the University of Missouri found that upbeat music was successful at making people feel happier more so than somber music, but people reported higher levels of happiness when they attempted to feel more positive through the music. Looks like all it takes is a little effort and your favorite beats.
4. Chat With Someone
Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of social interaction (even if we might think otherwise). One study from the Proceedings of The Royal Society B found that even just calling your mother can help reduce stress and release oxytocin, the mood-boosting "love hormone." But it doesn't have to be a conversation with your mom. Another study from the Harvard Business Review found that people who evenly briefly chatted with someone like a cashier or another stranger reported greater satisfaction and better moods throughout the day.
5. Watch A Funny Video
As if you ever needed an excuse to watch a funny YouTube video, now you have one. A study from Oxford University found that laughter releases endorphins, which can help relieve stress and even relieve painful physical sensations.
6. Think Of Something To Look Forward To
"If you're rather limited in being able to implement the other strategies, let your mind focus on something you're looking forward to for a minute," says Martin. "Mentally anticipate the good feelings and interesting experiences that lie ahead." One study from the journal Applied Research In Quality Of Life even showed that looking forward to a vacation gives people just as much happiness as the vacation itself.
7. Force A Smile
If all else fails, force your mouth into a smile. A study from the journal Psychological Science found that manipulating a smile on people's face using chopsticks helps lower people's stress levels and even encourages positive affect. This is because your brain associates these physical changes with happiness and therefore it creates the associated positive emotions.
Although these tricks might not fix any of your major life problems, they can definitely help make you feel better in the moment.
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