Fake yourself out
Literally turn that frown upside down: The act of smiling, even if you’re totally faking, can make you feel happier, psychologist Edward J. Cumella, PhD, told Reader’s Digest. Same goes for laughing, so watch a quick video of your favourite comedian or TV show, or the recorded antics of your pet or toddler. Or try these hilarious jokes. They are guaranteed to make you laugh so hard you cry, chasing away your moody blues.
Try color therapy
Wearing red can help you feel more confident, which might help you stare down that bad mood and send it packing. And even if Kermit says it’s not easy being green, colour psychologists tell us that wearing—or even just seeing!—a nice fresh green can evoke happiness. Need to feel more relaxed? Then try a blue hue.
Tune in to a tune
Music is a known mood-booster, so pop on an upbeat playlist of your favourites and cheer up quickly. Research has found that listening to music can reduce the pain and anxiety of surgery, so it should work when you just need a perk-up! It has a cumulative effect, too. If you want a longer-lasting mood boost, prescribe yourself at least one happy song a day.
Give yourself a mini-massage
A full-body massage from a professional therapist is ideal for stress relief. But when you need a quick fix, try this handy trick. Press your thumb into the outside corner of the palm of your opposite hand. Slowly massage, using a circular motion. Then move your thumb inward and repeat your circles. Continue inching inward until you reach the centre of your palm. (Check out these five other self-message techniques.)
Hug it out
Hugging one of your favourite people or animals can instantly lift your mood with a surge of “happy hormones,” serotonin and oxytocin. Grab whoever’s nearby and give them a good 20-second squeeze; you’ll both benefit! And here’s why touch might be the most important of our five senses.
Snack for happiness and health
You can also get serotonin, and a related amino acid, tryptophan, from food. So try a breakfast with eggs, turkey, chicken, or cheese, and add some nuts, banana, pineapple, or plums to pump up those brain chemicals. (Here are three ways to prevent depression.)
Research into the power of essential oils has pointed to orange and lavender scents as mood-boosters. Taking a whiff of either these aromas can help improve your mood and reduce any anxiety you might be feeling. You can diffuse the scent in your home or office, or just take a good sniff from a container of oil or another scented object.
Walk it off
Walk your way out of a lousy mood. A quick stroll—just five or 10 minutes—gives you three cheerer-uppers in one: Fresh air, sunlight, and movement—not to mention a bevy of health benefits. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins in your body, the sun gives you vitamin D, and outdoor air offers a nice hit of oxygen and encourages you to breathe it in deeply.
Just picture it
Outdoor walks are beneficial, and so are walks down memory lane! Research has found that scrolling through pics of your friends, family, and travels can boost your mood as well, or better, than listening to music, drinking a glass of wine, or even eating chocolate.
Do a good deed
Cheer yourself up by cheering someone else. The “helper halo” effect is real! Get inspired and find someone who could use your help today. Offer a cup of coffee, a sweet note, or even just a smile. It’ll do you both good.
Pray or meditate
Whatever your spiritual practice, spending a few minutes on it can elevate your mood. Being mindful can change your brain and improve your well-being. And some time in prayer or meditation helps distract you from whatever it is that’s dragging you down today. See the bigger picture. Try these little ways to sneak more meditation into your day.
Find some flowers
Pick up an inexpensive bouquet for your desk, or just take notice of the flowers outside your window or along your route to work. Getting a glimpse of floral beauty can reduce anxiety and even improve productivity and creativity, whether you are male or female, young or old.
Give yourself a little win to counteract the grumps. What’s your party trick? If you can balance a spoon on your nose, play a quick tune on the piano, or magically pull a quarter from your kid’s ear, do it now—just for the satisfaction of knowing you can.
Stretch and soothe
Yoga poses like these easy ones can reverse a bad mood quicker than you can say “downward-facing dog.” The best postures for changing your mindset include inversions, backbends, and balances. Start and finish with a child’s pose for relaxation. In between, try:
- Inversions (where your head is below your heart) for a literal change of perspective and a lowering of blood pressure: Headstand, shoulder stand, legs up the wall, and down dog
- Backbends for energy and increased blood flow: bow, wheel, dancer, and camel
- Balance poses to shift your focus away from your mood to maintaining your balance: tree, eagle, boat
Originally published as 14 Little Ways to Instantly Turn a Bad Mood Around on ReadersDigest.com.