If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably always searching for simple ways to boost your mood. And if you’re not, then you probably should be, because bad days happen to everybody. The fact is, life periodically gets weird for all of us, and our emotional state can negatively affect everything from our relationships to our overall health and wellbeing. No matter how emotionally and mentally stable you are, you can’t always predict when things like low serotonin activity and rough breakups will try to mess with your brain. And if you struggle with anxiety, depression, and/or some other mood disorder, then it’s particularly important to learn how to trick yourself into feeling good.
Fortunately, there are dozens of ways to feel happier quickly, and most of them are free and easy. Of course, it goes without saying that eating well and drinking plenty of water is an important part of maintaining overall health and happiness — but did you know that looking through old photo albums can boost your mood, too? Even weirder, paying bills and postponing major life decisions can effectively turn your frown upside down as well.
On that note, here are seven simple ways to boost your mood right now. You’re welcome!
Look Through Old Photos
Researchers at the United Kingdom's Open University found that flipping through old photos was even more effective at boosting people's moods than chocolate, TV, music, or alcohol. So the next time you're feeling sad or out of sorts, try flipping through one of your old photo albums before you switch on Netflix. You should also consider uploading some old photos to your phone and laptop; that way, you can utilize this mood-boosting trick even when you're away from home.
The next time you're feeling stressed out or completely unmotivated, try chomping on a piece of your favorite gum. I can tell you from personal experience that chewing on gum can be an easy, effective, and reliable way to cope with nervous energy and trouble concentrating. (I keep gum in my laptop bag and my writing desk for this reason.)
You don't have to take my word for it, though. Multiple studies suggest that chewing on gum reduces cortisol while increasing blood flow to the brain, which results in less anxiety and stronger focus. (This is probably why humans have been finding stuff to chew on for millennia.)
Pay A Bill
OK, so paying bills might not sound like the best way to boost your mood, but research suggests otherwise. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, debt is literally bad for our psyche, but paying off our debts can actually improve our mental health.
So if you can afford to, consider paying a little bit extra on your car payment/student loan/credit card bill this month. If you can't afford to do that right now, then maybe try paying your bills earlier than you have to. I know it's not as fun as buying concert tickets, but you probably won't regret it. Plus, it's just an incredibly responsible way to feel better quickly.
Sing A Song
Music therapists believe that singing can improve our mood. On top of that, one German study found that singing actually enhances immunity by increasing antibodies that fight illness. So not only does singing make us feel happier, it can literally make us healthier, too. Whether you sound like Ariana Grande or you can't carry a tune, try singing along to your favorite Spotify playlist the next time you're blue. It might not sound great, but it will probably bring you joy.
Postpone A Major Decision
To be clear, procrastination isn't always healthy. I can tell you from personal experience that putting things off usually leads to late nights and regret. That said, there are times when actively choosing to "shelve" a major decision is exactly what we need to do.
If your low mood is the result of a depressive episode, then right now might not be the best time to quit your job, take out a personal loan, or move to a new city. Instead, give yourself permission to postpone any major decisions until you're well again. Whatever it is that you're trying to figure out, choosing to revisit the decision at a later date should help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that you might be struggling with. Plus, it will almost definitely help you make better choices in the long-run.
Physical touch can slow down the body's stress response, and orgasming releases the endorphins dopamine and oxytocin. So the next time you're feeling overwhelmed and/or bummed out, try touching yourself. Whether this means placing a hand over your heart or rubbing one out in the privacy of your bedroom, you should be feeling better in no time.
Go For A Walk
I've been dealing with anxiety and depression for many years, but even on my worst days, forcing myself to go for a walk always helps me feel happier and more capable. Plus, a figurative mountain of research suggests that walking can increase creativity, fight depression, and reduce the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. So if you're looking for a free, easy, and restorative way to boost your mood with exercise, then go take yourself for a walk.