It’s normal to have down days every so often. But if you’ve been feeling more blue than usual recently, you might be looking for ways to boost your mood.
Luckily, research has found that many simple things like waking up earlier, decluttering, and smiling even when we don’t feel like it can have a huge impact on how positive we feel.
With that said, here are 12 simple things you can do every day to boost mood.
1. Make someone else smile
Countless studies show how random acts of kindness, volunteering, and taking time to make others smile can significantly improve our mood.
In this study, researchers considered data from nearly 70,000 subjects in the UK. They found that people who’d spent time volunteering in the past year were more satisfied with their lives and rated their overall health higher than those who hadn’t volunteered.
The study also noted that volunteering more often produced greater benefits. For example, people who volunteered at least once a month reported better mental health than those who volunteered less regularly or not at all.
If you’d like some ideas on how to give back, head over to the volunteering section of our website, or check out our list of 17 meaningful ways to help others and give back to your community.
2. Set an earlier alarm
Research has found that waking up early can boost mood, enhance overall life satisfaction, and improve mental health.
This study of over 840,000 people revealed that those who had a preference for waking up earlier also had a 23% lower risk of major depressive disorder.
However, it’s important to note that these benefits are linked with waking up earlier without sleeping less. So, you may need to adjust your bedtime to reap the benefits and avoid feeling overly tired.
If you’d like to take steps to improve your sleep quality and nighttime routine to allow you to wake earlier, head over to the sleep and fatigue section of our website. Here, you’ll find information on everything from the circadian rhythm to how to design the perfect bedroom for sleep.
Even if you don’t plan on getting up earlier, it’s still worth taking steps to improve your sleep. Sleep and mood are closely linked, and a lack of quality sleep is known to cause stress and irritability.
3. Have a laugh
Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. Research has found that it can help to improve mood, relieve stress, and reduce pain.
In this study, participants were put in an MRI brain scanner and shown funny and not funny cartoons. When participants saw the funny cartoons, blood flow to several parts of the brain’s reward system was increased. And the funnier people found the cartoons, the bigger their brain’s response was.
To learn more, have a read of our article; The benefits of humour and laughing – 9 tips to help you laugh more.
4. Eat more mood-boosting foods
It’s common to want to turn to sugary, processed foods when we’re feeling down as a way to lift our spirits. But these can damage our physical health and lower mood.
In contrast, research has pinpointed several healthier foods with mood-boosting qualities – and studies have even found that symptoms of depression can be relieved through diet changes. For example, this study revealed that a third of people with depression experience significant relief of their symptoms after improving their diet.
Much of these changes centre around eating nutrient-dense foods that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods.
For example, various B vitamin deficiencies – particularly folate and vitamin B12 – have been linked with an increased risk of mood disorders like depression. Meanwhile, eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with better overall mood and a reduced risk of depression.
If you’d like to learn more about how diet can help to improve your mood, check out our article; 9 of the best mood-boosting foods.
5. Have a quick tidy up
Many people turn to things like exercise and mindfulness when they need a mood boost; but for others, giving the shelves a quick dust, wiping down the bathroom, or organising a cupboard can prove just as beneficial.
In fact, for some people, even just the sight of a clean, organised home can make them feel more positive and less stressed. Researchers have also found that people with uncluttered and organised work areas are less irritable anddistracted, and more productive.
Having a cleaner space may feed into other areas that impact your mood too. For example, making your bed and having clean sheets is linked with a better night’s sleep.
Check out our articles, How to declutter and reorganise your home, 24 things to add to your spring cleaning checklist, and 9 ways to declutter your workspace, for ideas on how to get started.
6. Get some sunlight
There’s a lot of evidence that weather can impact mood – and getting enough sunlight is known to positively affect how we feel.
Not only does sunlight help us connect with the outside world, but it’s also a source of vitamin D, which studies have linked with a reduced risk of depression. Research shows that sunlight exposure can boost mood by increasing the production of serotonin. It also helps to keep your circadian rhythm (including your sleep-wake cycle) in check, which can make it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling restored.
Getting outside in daylight can be particularly important during the colder months, when the days are darker and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more common. However, with less sunlight available in autumn and winter, the NHS also encourages people to consider taking vitamin D supplements.
To read more about the benefits of vitamin D, check out our guide.
Note: Overexposure to the sun can be dangerous to health, so it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. For guidance on this, have a read of our article; 11 tips to protect your skin from sun damage.
7. Read something positive
With so much unease and conflict going on in the world, it can sometimes feel like the only news we read about is negative. But, it’s important to remember that there are plenty of positive things going on in the world too – and reading about these can be an effective way to lift our spirits.
If you’d like to read about something positive today, you might like our articles; 20 happy facts to make your day a little better and Acts of kindness – 16 wonderful ways people have spread smiles around the world.
Our article, 8 ways to manage your news consumption, also has tips on how to stay up to date with the news whilst taking care of your mental health.
8. Listen to some uplifting music
As a form of self-expression, escapism, and creativity, music can be a powerful way to make our days that little bit brighter – and it’s been tied with some impressive physical and mental health benefits.
This study found that people who listened to positive, uplifting music in an attempt to improve their mood reported feeling happier than people who listened to music that wasn’t positive or weren’t actively trying to boost their mood.
If you’re after a ready-made playlist to turn to when you need a mood-boost, check our article; 10 of the best Spotify playlists for every mood.
If you find music to be a particularly effective mood-booster, there are also plenty of other ways to enjoy its benefits beyond just listening. For example, you might like to consider taking up an instrument, joining a music group, or simply enjoying a singalong to your favourite tunes.
As American philosopher William James once said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.”
9. Give someone a hug – or hug yourself!
There’s plenty of truth in the healing power of touch, and hugging can be a quick and effective way to boost mood.
Studies have revealed that friendly physical touching can increase the production of oxytocin – a hormone known to promote social attachment – and other studies have noted a reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels when receiving hugs.
Hugs can help you to feel closer to people you care about and increase feelings of happiness and fulfilment by reinforcing the knowledge that other people love and care for you.
If there’s no one around to hug when you need a mood boost, fear not! This study found that touch – even your own – can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Even self-massage has been found to reduce stress and help people feel more relaxed.
10. Get some exercise
There’s plenty of research which shows that exercise can improve mood.
In this study, after participants ran on a treadmill for 10 to 15 minutes, they reported improved mood and lower levels of anxiety compared with before the run. As you’re probably aware, experts suggest that this is because exercise increases the release of feel-good chemicals, dopamine and serotonin.
If you haven’t yet found a form of exercise that you love, head over to the fitness and exercise section of our website. Here, we’ve got information on everything from team sports to home workouts and outdoor activities.
11. Spend time in nature
Taking some time out in nature can be a powerful way to inject some calm into our days.
Studies have shown that spending time outdoors in a green space for just 20 minutes was enough to boost well-being. If you live in a town or city, the idea of finding a space green enough to be considered ‘nature’ might feel a bit tricky. But, the results of this study were actually based on participants who visited urban parks in Birmingham, UK.
For further benefits, research suggests that experiencing something awe-inspiring, such as watching the sunrise or gazing up at a star-filled night sky, can be particularly effective at boosting mood. This study found that people who’d recently had awe-inspiring experiences felt more satisfied and were less stressed than people who hadn’t.
Check out our article for more ideas on how to connect with nature and feel inspired.
Did you know that simply smiling (even if you don’t feel like it) causes the brain to release feel-good hormones, like serotonin and dopamine? This means you can effectively trick your mind into entering a state of happiness – whether or not your smile is genuine.
This study found that you can boost your workday mood by acting as if you already feel better than you do.
With this in mind, simply smiling might be the quickest and easiest way for a mood boost on this list!
It’s normal to have a down day every so often, but if you’re looking for a few simple yet effective mood boosters, we hope you’ve found this list helpful.
For further reading, head over to the healthy mind section of our website. Here, you’ll find information on everything from mindfulness and positivity to overcoming challenges.
What simple things help to boost your mood? Will you be trying anything new from our list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.