We’ve rounded up 12 ways to lift your spirits that are easily accessible and scientifically proven to be effective. Scroll through the list to find your next mood-boosting strategy.
- Laugh! Laughter is proven to increase dopamine, a chemical that elevates the mood. It also oxygenates our bodies and cools down our stress-response systems, producing an overall calm, happy feeling.
- Indulge in a massage. Several studies have shown that massage increases serotonin levels, especially in pregnant women and infants. Even just rubbing your own shoulders, neck, hands, and temples can help.
- Eat some chocolate. The antioxidant in chocolate (resveratrol) provides a burst of endorphins and serotonin.
- Do a puzzle. Any kind of puzzle will do. Every success we have while working on a puzzle releases dopamine, which grants us a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.
- Play in the dirt. UK scientists have found that a type of friendly bacteria found in soil may influence brain cells to produce serotonin in a similar way that antidepressants.
- Smell lavender. Lavender interacts with the neurotransmitter GABA to help relax the brain and nervous system, reducing agitation, anger, aggression, and restlessness.
- Eat vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli). Vitamin C is essential for your body to create neurotransmitters that regulate mood and combat depression.
- Clear your space! Work on decluttering your home and workspace. Just seeing clutter has been found to cause spikes in cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Consume omega-3 fatty acids. Many promising scientific studies have found that eating omega-3 fatty acids may alleviate depression and other mood disorders.
- Pet a dog or cat. A Washington State University study found that petting a dog or cat for even just ten minutes produced a major reduction in cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Seek sunshine. A study spanning six years discovered that therapy patients reported less emotional distress on sunny days. Vitamin D has also been linked to mental well-being.
- Take slow, deep breaths. By breathing slower and more deeply, you signal your nervous system to calm down. It takes practice to reap profound benefits, so devote some time to deep breathing daily.
Do take notice that if your mood is causing notable problems in your ability to perform day-to-day activities make an appointment to see your doctor. Continuous low mood, loss of interest in normal activities, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating are symptoms worth discussing with a healthcare professional.