Feeling down is a normal part of being human, as everyone feels sad at times. Luckily, there are lots of really simple things we can do to lift our spirits. Here’s 12 scientifically-proven ways you can boost your mood without too much effort.
1. Listen to a song or piece of music that you love.
Music can have a powerful impact, with research showing that it benefits people with depression or dementia, cancer patients, those experiencing pain and children with autism. Listen to your favourite album or put together a playlist of songs you love. A family member or carer can help you do this, if you aren’t familiar with technology.
2. Laugh out loud.
Laughing isn’t just good fun: according to science, it also helps relieve stress, stimulates your organs and even improves your immune system. Some easy ways to enjoy a good laugh is to watch a funny TV show, read some great jokes, chat to a friend who brightens your day, or watch a funny cat video (or more!) on the Internet.
3. Do something kind for someone else.
Helping other people can boost your spirits, as you feel good knowing you have brought a smile to someone’s face. Volunteering is a great way to help others, but you can also start small. Try paying someone a compliment, saying kind words, doing an act of service for someone, or saying hello to your neighbours.
4. Try mediation (even 5 minutes will do!)
You don’t need to go to a yoga studio to try meditating. Simple mindfulness techniques such as focusing on the present moment, slowing down your breathing and relaxing your muscles can do wonders for your health and wellbeing. If you’d like to give it a try, The Smiling Mind is a free app that guides you through some simple meditation practices.
5. Take a walk around the block
Exercise is wonderful for your mental health. It improves your mood, relieves stress and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. A simple way to get some exercise is to go for a walk in your neighbourhood: perhaps to a local park, the shops or around the block. Take your time, knowing that moving your body is doing you some good!
6. Make a gratitude list
In a US study, psychologists asked one group of people to write down things that were thankful for, and the second group to write down the things that irritated them. After 10 weeks, the group that was thankful reported feeling more optimistic about their lives. If you’re feeling down, try making a list of what you are thankful for, even the little things. It will remind you that no matter what’s going on, there’s always something to smile about.
7. Give someone a call for a chat
While new technology provides so many different ways to stay in touch, sometimes you can’t beat an old fashioned phone call. Talking to someone, even for 15 minutes helps prevent isolation, especially if you are living on your own. Have a chat to a family member, friend or perhaps someone you haven’t caught up with in a while to lift your mood.
8. Give your loved one a hug
Did you know that hugging your loved ones is good for your health? When you give someone that you trust a hug, the hormone oxytocin is released into your blood stream, which reduces blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety, while boosting feelings of contentment. This effect also occurs if you hug your pet!
9. Pet an animal
While we’re on the subject of pets, keep your cat or dog close. Alongside the opportunity to exercise and regularly go outside, pets can help us cope with loneliness, offer companionship, and provide us with distraction from our own anxieties. If you don’t have a pet, consider spending time with a friend who has one, so you can reap the benefits.
10. Make a list of things you enjoy doing
When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to lack motivation to do something active. To help you in these moments, make a list of simple activities you enjoy, such as doing a puzzle, taking a bath, going for a walk, drinking a cup of tea with a good book, or doing some drawing. Keep it on hand for those times when you’re not sure what activity might cheer you up.
11. Go outside
Being outside, especially amongst nature, is great for your mental health. It can lower anxiety, improve memory and also give you a boost in creativity. Getting out in nature doesn’t have to be complicated. Try going for a walk in your local park, getting out in the garden or taking your morning coffee outside in the fresh air.
12. Declutter a space in your home
It’s a surprising one, but research shows that being in a cluttered environment can increase your stress levels and reduce your ability to focus. To clear your mind and boost your mood, try picking a small area of your home and taking some time to put a few things away. If you need help, chat to your carer or a family member about how they can support you.
Remember, if you need support with your mental health, reach out to a loved one, friend or your support worker for help. Here are some organisations that can help: