If you’ve been feeling a little down lately, you’re not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has required many lifestyle changes, like working from home and remaining socially distanced from friends and family, which may have increased your feelings of stress or sadness. This, combined with more time on social media and less personal connections, can take a toll on mental health.
How to feel happier
If you find yourself in need of some instant mood-boosters and ways to feel happier, here are 10 ways to boost your spirits in just 10 minutes:
- Take a quick exercise break. When you exercise, your blood pumps faster and your body starts to produce mood-boosting endorphins. Longer workouts are great, but research shows even seven minutes may be enough time to reap some benefits. If you’re pressed for time, you can take a quick walk around the block, jog in place, do some jumping jacks in your living room, hold a plank position or take your dog for a walk.
- Call a friend or family member. Sometimes just hearing a familiar voice can help lower your stress levels. Having someone you can turn to can help you feel better connected and supported. Catching up with an old friend on the phone for a few minutes can be a great way to deepen your friendship, have a laugh and instantly put you in a better mood. If you don’t have time for a phone conversation, even a quick text can make you feel better.
- Practice your breathing or meditate. Focusing on something as simple as your breath is one of the number one ways for how to feel happier. Taking a few deep breaths can stop your body’s fight or flight response. If you’re feeling anxious, you can help yourself relax by closing your eyes and just focusing on deep breaths, in and out through your nose for a few minutes. This can calm your mind and lower your stress levels. If you have more time, consider watching a meditation video for longer meditation sequences you can add to your day.
- Grab a healthy snack. Making sure you’re eating regular meals and getting several doses of fruits and veggies can go a long way to improving your health and wellness. But did you know even a quick snack can improve your mood and make you feel better? If you’re feeling low, just reach for an apple, a small piece of cheese, a handful of nuts or even a square of dark chocolate to lift your spirits. Healthy snacks can sharpen your focus and make you feel more productive.
- Plan a trip (even if you don’t take it). We all love taking a vacation to someplace new, don’t we? And traveling can certainly be a fix for the blues. Going on vacation can help you feel rested, less anxious and less stressed. But as it turns out, the happiest feelings you may experience are actually during the planning stages of a trip. Just planning out a new adventure can be enough to make you feel excited and happier. Simply having something to look forward to can be a huge mood-booster. It might be a great time to research some places you’d like to visit once travel opens up a bit more.
- Get a nap in. Skimping on quality sleep can make you less alert. It can also contribute to lower levels of optimism. Making sure to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis helps your overall health and wellness. Even a quick nap during the day can help your body reset, reduce levels of stress or tension, and improve your outlook. If you’re feeling drained, simply take a 10-minute “cat nap” for a quick refresher.
- Listen to a happy song. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that music can affect your mood. Music can put you in touch with your emotions. It can also connect you to a happy memory, like a trip you took, or a friend’s wedding. It has the power to transport you to a better place in time. For a quick lift to your spirits, try blasting your favorite upbeat tune or downloading a complete playlist of mood-boosting songs. And for added benefit, dance and sing along!
- Go outside. Spending some time in nature can be instantly calming. And this can have some lasting mood-lifting perks. Feeling the sun on your face, getting some fresh air and listening to natural sounds like running water, the wind and the sound of birds can quickly put you in a peaceful state of mind. If you have extra time, head out for a hike, go fishing or meet a friend at a local park (just remember to socially distance). Even sitting on your front porch or patio for a few minutes can quickly put you in touch with nature in a positive way.
- Practice smiling. This one couldn’t be easier, right? The mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower your stress, and give your immune system a boost. So, turn that frown upside down! It actually works.
- Have a cup of tea. Drinking a cup of hot tea can be helpful in calming your nerves. If you’re feeling a little stressed, why not try brewing up a cup of herbal tea? Aside from relaxing qualities, many teas such as green tea, chamomile, ginger tea, peppermint tea and others contain antioxidants and have added health benefits. Some have even been linked to improved digestion, increased brain function, better sleep and a healthier immune system.
It’s important to take care of yourself, especially during extra-troubling times. Keeping an eye on your mental state of mind can be key to your overall wellness. You can get started by adding some of these tips for how to feel happier to your daily routine to stay on track toward a sunnier, healthier life.
If you’re feeling discouraged and need to talk to someone, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a national helpline at 1.800.662.HELP. It is a free, confidential, 24/7/365 treatment, referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental health and/or substance use challenges.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.