We all get a little down from time to time. Sometimes it’s because of major events such as divorce, job loss, death of a loved one, etc. Other times it’s simply because we are human and naturally experience sadness. During these times it can feel really good to have a little emotional pick-me-up. Here are a few small but powerful ways to boost your mood and lift your spirits.
One of the fastest ways to feel better when you’re low is to listen to music. Put on your favorite song, dance around, rock out in your car or bedroom, and remember that there’s a lot to be joyful about in life. Research shows that the type of music (country, pop, hip hop, etc.) doesn’t really matter; just pick something that you like! It doesn’t even have to be a happy or upbeat song, either. If you’re going through a breakup or something else that’s particularly tough, sometimes you have to go through that painful emotion to move past it and get to a more cheerful one. Might be time to break out the Adele…
Another way to quickly improve your mood is simply to smile more. Studies show that even a fake smile can help you feel better, and by continually practicing this technique you can quit faking it and truly be happier. There’s a great feedback mechanism that when we act as if something is true, it can actually become true. So show the world your pearly whites and feel your mood lifting.
Sunlight is an important tool to beat the blues. Who doesn’t feel better after spending some time in the sun? The light and vitamin D that you get from being outside are so good for our bodies and our spirits (don’t overdo it, though: Skin cancer is a real thing, so sunbathe with caution and always wear sunscreen.) Exercise can also be a great way to get those endorphins going. Get to the gym and work up a sweat to improve your mood. If you’re not up for a full workout, then just take a walk up and down the street or do something else to get moving.
The next tip may surprise you a bit. Do you remember being taught as a little kid not to talk to strangers? As a professional therapist, I’m telling you to toss that advice aside, get outside of your comfort zone, and converse with people you don’t know! Research shows that this actually makes us feel better (cool, huh?) We’ve culturally been brought up to be a bit more cheerful to new faces, so this can help us feel cheerful and happy as well. So why not strike up a conversation with the cashier at the grocery store, the woman you sit next to on the train, or the new co-worker you haven’t met yet? Interacting with strangers (or new friends) is really energizing and can bring out the best in us.
A final piece of advice I can give you to help lift your mood is to change your mind. When we’re feeling down our thoughts slow down too, so the solution is to help speed up and change our thought patterns. Maybe play a fast-paced game, talk to a friend who’s cheerful and high energy, or try something new—anything to switch up your thinking. Another thing you can do is challenge negative thoughts. Too often, we tend to be self-defeating by saying negative things to ourselves. Become aware of your own internal dialogue, then fight back against your inner critic. For example, if you find yourself thinking that you’re not intelligent, challenge that thought. Ask yourself if it’s really true, if it’s an assumption you’ve made, or if it’s something you’ve been taught. You can often get rid of those kinds of pessimistic ideas about yourself just by confronting them.
I promise that these mini-changes can work for you. From my own experiences (as well as those of my friends, family, and clients, and also as shown by clinical research), they have been shown time and time again to really work to drive out the gloom we all feel sometimes. Try them today if you need an emotional boost.