ver have those days where nothing’s going right? Disastrous days can turn your mood foul, fast. The good news is that while you can’t control everything that happens to you in a day, there’s a lot you can do to get your mood back on track, even when crap keeps hitting the fan.
We’ve got a massive list of suggestions to help turn things around, from quick-fixes to durable habits for shifting chronic mood challenges over time. Plus we’re not just blowing sunshine up your you-know-where and telling you to suck it up 😳.
All these tips are evidence-based.
Quick fixes to smack down the doldrums
If you’ve only got a few minutes to fix your funk, try a few of these:
Step outside and get some fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine.
Fresh air will raise your oxygen levels, helping give your energy and your concentration levels a lift. Sunshine helps raise your serotonin levels by helping your body make vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight also helps you make more red blood cells, which are the vehicles that carry oxygen around your body.
Stop ignoring your own needs.
Sometimes we get in a foul mood because we’ve been ignoring our own immediate needs. Get up, drink a glass of water, go pee and have snack if you’ve been putting off those crucial self-care tasks. Not enough? Take a moment to pause and ask yourself what you need. Don’t assume what the answer will be and allow your body or heart to speak up. Maybe it’s a bath… maybe you want to phone a friend… maybe you need a day off. Listen, and then do the thing you need as soon as you’re able.
Get your body moving.
Exercise is a powerful stress-reliever, and unleashes feel-good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins. So hop up and do twenty jumping jacks – Go!
Scrawl it out.
Grab a piece of paper and write down all the things that are pissing you off right now. Now crumple the paper and throw it in the trash. Better yet, run it through the office paper shredder or burn it! Journaling has been shown to reduce stress and even gives your immune system a lift which can help you deal with other stressors that will soon be coming at you.
Have a quick vent session.
Similar to the tip above, you can talk to a safe friend or colleague about what’s bothering you. The trick is to keep it short and to do sparingly. We also recommend focusing on what you’re feeling, and not about what or who went wrong to make you feel that way. Explore your own experience, don’t drop into blame. A quick, honest venting like that can help you get things off your chest and move on.
Laughter reduces stress hormones and creates endorphins, so turn to something you know will make you belly laugh. We’re pretty sure this is why Youtube was invented.
This one is definitely NSFW, but if you’re at home, give it a go. Because, shocker, orgasms reduce stress through the release of powerhouse neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin.
Reflect on what you’re grateful for.
Grab a journal and set a timer for 2-5 minutes and write down every single thing you have to be grateful for until the timer goes off. Positive psychology research tells us that being actively thankful is highly correlated with being a happier person.
Use your nose.
Having some aromatherapy handy makes it easy to cheer yourself up by taking a deep sniff of something wonderful. Some mood boosting scents include: pine, citrus, grass, rosemary, and peppermint.
Do something generous.
Get out of your own head and your own problems by helping some else out. There’s science behind the idea that being altruistic makes you happier. And it doesn’t need to be some grand gesture. For the price of a cup of coffee, you could turn your bad mood around and make someone else’s day.
Take a mental vacation.
Modern psychology regularly touts the benefits of positive visualization. Close your eyes (or focus on an image) and imagine yourself in a calm and serene environment that would put your at ease and bring you happiness.
Pump up the jams.
Listening to music can actually lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So, turn on a song that makes you happy and crank up the volume. Bonus points for dancing along.
Pet your pet.
You may have noticed that a session of heavy petting not only relaxes your dog, but also you. This kind of touch helps produce oxytocin and reduce cortisol levels.
Eat some dark chocolate.
Yes, we’re telling you to eat chocolate! You’re welcome. Thanks to the flavonoids found in cacao, a few squares of dark chocolate can improve the neuroplasticity of your brain and help boost your mood.
Fake it til you make it.
Few-hour fixes for lasting results
Some days are so rough that it’s going to take more than a few minutes to rescue yourself from your tightening crabby-pants. If you’ve got the time and need a higher level of intervention to turn things around, try one of these:
Go for a long walk in nature.
Turns out that being in nature will help you reduce your blood pressure and heart rate, helping you calm the eff down. It’s why “forest bathing” became such a preventative health care craze in Japan.
Take it to the mat.
If you really want to shake off a bad mood, get your butt on your sticky mat and do a yoga flow that includes inversions. While all exercise is helpful to improve your mood, yoga is particularly effective at getting oxygen flowing and raising the level of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter GABA.
Plan something fun.
Book a trip or activity you can look forward to so you don’t feel trapped in the day-to-day grind. It doesn’t have to be extravagent or long. Plan to try an exciting new restaurant the town over, or seek out a new boutique or bookstore you want to visit. Check out the local gardens, museum or art gallery or take in a show! Breaking up your routine with something unexpected or different can do wonders for your mood.
Get dressed up.
Enjoying the process of finding the best outfit, accessories and makeup (or a clean shave for the fellas) can do wonders for your mood. Keep in mind that this isn’t about proving you’re beautiful or handsome or stressing about your looks. Particularly if you work from home, taking the time to select and put on an outfit triggers your brain to believe you’re going somewhere. It can pick up your mood, boost your energy and hopefully inspire a fun sojourn or maybe an in-house dance party.
Do something you’ve been procrastinating.
There’s nothing like a feeling of achievement to lift your mood, particularly when you do a task you’ve been putting off. In addition to the stress relief of no longer having to worry about getting it done, you also get a dopamine hit from the achievement itself.
Talk to a therapist.
If your mood seems to have taken a semi-permanent nose-dive, it may be time to seek professional help. These days, there are some great tools out there to find a good therapist. You can even set-up virtual therapy appointments.
If the idea of talking to a therapist doesn’t float your boat, we get it. And what we suggest is that you explore therapy sessions that are somatic (focused on the body) rather than the traditional talk therapy. Our emotions are connected to our thoughts, but they’re also stored in our body, can be affected by (and affect) physiology and are chemical in nature. Word on the street is that somatic therapy can work wonders for mood improvement!