Are you feeling down in the dumps? No need to indulge in some retail therapy or a tropical vacation to cheer yourself up. Here are seven totally free ways to be happier today.
- Do something nice for someone else. Research shows that doing kind things for others benefits not only the recipient, but also the doer. Try complimenting a stranger, leaving an uplifting note in a doctor’s office magazine, or bringing coffee and donuts for the office on a Monday morning. Websites like KindSpring.org and Pinterest have loads of ideas for random acts of kindness that you can perform for others. Did you know that even witnessing a kind act can improve your mood? Check out RandomActsOfKindness.org for inspirational videos.
- Let the sun shine in! Exposure to natural light is a natural mood booster. Too many of us spend our days in buildings under florescent lights. Open the blinds as you eat breakfast in the morning. Rearrange your work space to take advantage of natural light. Take your brown bag lunch outside or eat near a sunny window. Take a walk after dinner.
- While you’re taking that after-dinner walk, take notice of the nature around you and rediscover those everyday joys. Is that a bird’s nest in that tree? Look at the amazing shapes in the clouds. Breathe in the fresh air. Research has shown that spending as little as five minutes outside can boost your mood. Exercising outdoors increases that mood-boosting effect. To find some more wide open spaces, miles of hiking trails, and free outdoor activities, check your state’s website to find a state park near you.
- If the weather won’t cooperate for a walk outside, lacing up your shoes and hitting the treadmill can provide mood-boosting benefits, too. Just five minutes of moderate exercise can make you feel happier. No treadmill? No problem. Jog in place, jump rope, or put on some music and dance your way happy.
- Count your blessings and write them down while you’re at it. Being thankful for the positive things in our lives can make us feel instantly better. Writing down the things we’re thankful for gives us a concrete reminder of the good things in our lives.
- Take gratitude a step further and say thank you to someone who has made a positive difference in your life. Whether it’s thanking your spouse for doing the dishes, writing a thank you note to a friend, or even mentally thanking the stranger who let you merge during rush hour, you’ll be glad you did.
- Smile! We all know we smile when we’re happy, but did you know that the act of smiling itself can actually make you happy? A growing body of research has found that mimicking the facial expression associated with a happy mood can cause you to feel the mood as well. So even if you don’t feel like smiling, fake it until you make it.
Practice one or all of these happiness-increasing tips, and you may be surprised to find yourself wearing a genuine grin before you know it.