Everyone has a bad day from time to time, and it’s perfectly normal to experience some fluctuations in your mood based upon the day’s events. If your bad mood seems to linger, though, you’ll need to get proactive and find a few ways to improve it. Here are 11 ways to improve your mood, whether you have five minutes or an entire day.
One of the best ways to get yourself out of a funk involves visualizing yourself in the right frame of mind. It might seem a little difficult, but it really isn’t. A study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry back in 2011 showed that patients who spent some time each day visualizing the best versions of themselves for two weeks became more optimistic.
Thinking about things that happened in the past – or things that may happen in the future – can create anxiety and negativity. Mindfulness is the act of centering yourself in the present, and it can improve your mood in just minutes. Just sit quietly in a comfortable place and take deep breaths for about three minutes. As you do so, clear your mind and focus solely on your breathing. If you find your mind wandering, re-center it on your breathing and continue. Over time, you’ll find your mind wandering less often, which makes this a very powerful tool.
A bad mood is often caused by dwelling on negative experiences or outcomes. While there’s nothing wrong with feeling upset when something doesn’t go as you expected, it’s important that you don’t allow it to control your mood. When you’re overwhelmed and you want to improve your mood, grab a pen and paper and start making a list of the good things in life. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that counting your blessings regularly can improve your overall wellbeing.
If you’ve been feeling down in the dumps and your self-confidence could use a boost, dress up in your favorite clothes. There’s plenty of research to suggest that wearing the color red can improve your self-esteem, and everyone feels better about themselves when they’re putting their best faces forward.
A 2010 study published in the Rivista di Psychiatria showed that even fake laughter can improve your mood by tricking your brain into believing something is funny. Whether you’re feeling grouchy, angry, or just down in the dumps, you can watch a funny movie to spark some laughter, or you can laugh at absolutely nothing. It’ll decrease anxiety, and per the study, it can even combat long-term depression.
Physical contact with your partner can decrease stress immediately, and there is even evidence to suggest that it could improve your physical health, too. Aim for a good 10-minute (or longer) cuddling session. If you’re single, hug a friend. Even this brief contact can improve your mood substantially.
A remarkable 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that people who own pets are often happier – and in some cases, they even live longer. When you feel like your mood could use a lift, play a game of fetch with your pooch or go for a walk. You’ll both be happier and healthier for it.
There’s nothing more fulfilling than crossing something off your to-do list. When you need to improve your mood, try accomplishing a goal. Even something as simple as sending an email you’ve been putting off or sweeping under your bed can make you feel better.
In many cases, the best way to improve your mood involves venting to a friend. Before you pick up the phone, though, make sure you’ve chosen a positive-thinking friend. Having a chat with someone about whatever has you down can make you feel better in minutes.
A 2008 study in the Archives of General Psychology proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that lack of vitamin D can cause depression, especially in older adults, so if it’s been a while since you’ve enjoyed the sunshine, put that at the top of your priority list. Read up on ways to combat seasonal depression here.
Finally, if you suspect your mood comes from being stuck in a rut in life – at home, at work, at school, or otherwise – try changing your environment. Rearrange your furniture at home or get some new décor for your desk at work. This can help refresh you and improve your mood substantially.
In most cases, it’s either your environment or your frame of mind that keeps you in a bad mood. The 11 tips above will improve your mood substantially, and some only take a few minutes out of your day. The more you practice these tips, the more positive you’ll become over time.