19 ways to instantly boost your happiness
Feeling a little low, or want a bit of a pick-me-up? No problem. This list will give you plenty of ideas on how to get a quick happiness boost. Try one idea or try a few; each of us is different when it comes to how our moods work, but something here should help you.
1. Flash a smile
Whether you smile to yourself, your reflection, your friend or a complete stranger, the act of smiling is both contagious and mood-boosting for the giver and the receiver. If you need something to smile about, try to think of a happy memory or imagine your idea of paradise before tensing your cheeks.
2. Let the sun in
Not only does it literally brighten up the room, sunshine is proven to increase levels of serotonin – a mood-boosting chemical in the body. If you find you're not able to get much sunlight, try one of Lumie's sunlight simulators – proven to aid SADs sufferers.
3. Open a window
By letting a breeze in, you'll swap stale fug for fresh air. This will help to rejuvenate you and kick your butt into gear while improving your living conditions. It may also encourage you to get outdoors and see things up close.
4. Make a plan
When you have a low mood, it can be hard to feel excited about the future. By planning something to look forward to, you'll have reason to be excited and happy. It needn't be anything big, just something nice that you'll enjoy. Why not invite a friend and share the joy?
5. Read something uplifting
You can feed positivity with positive messages, words and actions. Find a compelling book, read some of your favourite song lyrics or take five to catch up on our series of Simple Pleasures, where we celebrate the best little things in life.
6. Watch a funny video
You know those goofy videos that go viral on YouTube, the ones where animals do something silly or a toddler bites into a lemon and squirms? Well, they actually have a use in life! When you need a quick giggle, turn either to a video that you know you'll laugh at, a comedy programme you love or scroll through some trending funny vids. Cracking up can shift the fog.
7. Do some gentle exercise
Whether you're feeling sad, anxious, stressed or meh, getting up and moving is a great way to break the bubble you're in. You can choose what to do, so go for something fun that will raise your heart rate without exhausting you. You could go for a jog, do some simple stretches, dance in your kitchen or cycle around a park.
8. Add a splash of colour
Being unhappy or bored can feel very grey and dull, so counter it by injecting bright and bold colours to the spectrum. Have a play around with make up or nail varnish, put on an item of bright clothing or get out some paints and let your creativity do what it wants.
9. Go on a smell-a-thon
This might sound strange, but trust us: scents can transport you in an instant. Visit a perfume counter, tea shop or candles counter and play around with the different smells on offer. You don't have to buy anything, and you can sniff your way through lots of lovely smells without looking out of place. (Tip: Lush and Bluebird Tea shops are a great place to do this, speaking from experience!)
10. Breathe properly
Our breathing is inherently linked to our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our mood. It's easy to slip into unhelpful breathing habits, like taking short shallow breaths or sighing. Get back into a better rhythm by taking a steady deep breath in to the count of four, holding it for a second then releasing it to the count of four. Do this again and again over 3-5 minutes and you'll notice a difference in your energy levels and perspective.
As we grow up, we get less opportunities to play. It's such a shame, because playtime can stimulate your brain, make you feel emotions and capture your imagination. Dust off an old board game and play it with a few mates, immerse yourself in a video game or go for a kickabout with a buddy. It really is the taking part that counts.
12. Feed your mood
Eating to comfort yourself isn't a good habit to get into, but including more serotonin in your diet is a tasty way to up your mood. Foods that promote serotonin production include nuts, hummus, oats, fresh fruit, dark chocolate and tofu. Fit them into your diet on a regular basis to see a real impact.
13. Compliment someone
When you say something that makes someone else feel happy, you too will get a warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy. As a population we are quite reserved, but don't let that stop you. If you like your colleague's dress or think someone's got lovely handwriting, tell them! Only say it if you mean it though, otherwise you won't get the same lift.
14. Talk to someone or something
Human or animal, it doesn't matter so much who you talk to – it's simply good to interact with others on a regular basis. Face to face conversations are great because you get to see the other person's reaction and enjoy their responses, but talking over the phone or even via the internet can have positive effects on mood.
15. Make a four-legged friend
Dogs are very receptive to mood changes in people; if you have one of your own you might notice a change in their behaviour when you're feeling down. The good news is that spending time with a dog stimulates your mind and refocuses your attention. They love to play, too, so grab a ball or toy and have some fun.
16. Blast some big music
This will differ from person to person, but most of us have music that makes us feel pumped when we hear it. For me, noisy rock music gives me a surge in energy, but for others it could be anything - trance, orchestral music or cheesy pop. Find what makes you feel alive and let it surround you.
17. Take stock with gratitude
When the mist is sitting low, it's hard to see positive things that you have in your life. With a bit of practice, though, it can become easier to notice good things that you are happy about. Take a pen and paper and list three things that you are currently grateful for - big or small (e.g. I'm grateful for my warm blanket, I'm grateful that strawberries are so delicious...) If you do this at the end of each day, you'll probably find it really rewarding.
18. Clean up
Alright, this may not sound very fun, but pressing reset on your home and making everything tidy can bring a wonderful sense of calm, order and happiness. Add some pep to the chores by playing some of your favourite music while dusting, drawing lines with the hoover when vacuuming carpet and lighting a nice candle when you've finished. Don't forget to reward yourself with a cuppa and a biscuit afterwards!
19. Do something selfless
People volunteer for all sorts of reasons, but many volunteers report experiencing feelings of self-worth, purpose and happiness after helping out other people. You could do something for someone else and see how you feel afterwards. It doesn't have to be a huge commitment; you could simply let someone go ahead of you in the supermarket queue, or help a friend to do their decorating. It's comforting to know that your time and actions have brought someone a better outcome. See, this happiness thing really is contagious!
How do you give yourself a happiness boost?
Have you tried any of these ideas?
Let us know in the comments or tell us on Twitter!