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25 Ways to Improve Your Mood: How to Boost Happiness Today
Self-Help to Happiness: Improve Your Mood Today
Sometimes Mondays aren't just confined to the beginning of the week. Those doldrums can continue well into the week - or even the weekend! Maybe your boss is nagging you.... the kids are getting to you... the laundry is piling up (again).
Depending on your circumstances, there are a number of small, yet effective ways to lift your spirits, improve your mood and boost happiness! Try one out on Monday, then perhaps another on Tuesday. Repeat as necessary. And remember, as Annie famously sang..... "The sun'll come out, tomorrow!"
1. Call a friend. C'mon. Pick up the phone and call someone. Don't email. Its much less personal. You'll have a laugh and the endorphins will start flowing again.
2. Write to a family member. See my advice above regarding email. Choose someone with whom you haven't corresponded in a while and tell them how much you love them, or appreciate their being a part of your life. Or, tell them a joke. Whatever cheers you up.
3. Exercise. You don't have to sweat it out at the gym to make a difference. Go for a walk. Get some fresh air. If the weather is inclement, go to a shopping mall, if possible. Just get moving. It will make a difference.
4. Forgive yourself. Write down one thing you think you did "wrong" in the past, or one way in which you think you are falling short, and let it go. Completely. If you aren't convinced that you should be forgiven for the alleged transgression, then pick an easier item for self-forgiveness.
5. Take a bath or a shower. Maybe you already cleaned up once in the morning, but a soothing bubble bath or a quiet afternoon shower can be just the ticket to a fresh outlook on the rest of the day.
6. Get organized! Sometimes clutter can make one feel overwhelmed and mildly depressed. If you are at the office, use your lunch hour to tackle some of the piles and stuff crammed in your desk drawers. At home, take on one room, or space at a time. Perhaps your entry area where the bills/keys/coats get left would be a good place to start. Getting things in place can ease your mind and bring a smile to your face too!
7. Plan a lunch or dinner date. Put something on the calendar a few days ahead of the present - with a friend or with a date. This will give you something to look forward to, not only to share the company, but maybe to try a new restaurant, as well?
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8. Set small, achievable goals. Oftentimes, if our busy lives are broken down into more manageable tasks, we can feel happiness at minor accomplishments. Instead, so much of our days may seem like endless loops without end or reward. So tell yourself that you will complete 3 reports at work this week, or that you will cook 2 homemade dinners. Gold stars when you do!
9. Start a journal. It can be a , recommended by Oprah, or any kind of writing in which you relate your thoughts of the day. Sometimes just getting it out releases some of the negative energy. This brings me to... gratitude journal
10. Let it out. Have a good cry. If you have suffered a loss, or are otherwise grieving, it may be helpful to let the tears flow. You may not immediately feel a great deal happier, but in the long term, the sadness will not be so bottled up. Call a friend or family member to share your grief, if possible.
11. Compliment someone. Give an honest, heart-felt compliment, in person, to someone deserving. It has to be given to them directly, or it won't have the same uplifting effect for both of you. Trust me.
12. Forgive someone. You can start by privately forgiving a person that may have hurt you, but try to take this a step further by writing a letter and offering forgiveness, as well. Unless you desire to put 100% of the disagreement behind you - this means no hint of accusations, etc. - tread very carefully to make sure that all involved understand that the white flag has been raised and the battle is over.
13. Breathe deeply. This sounds simple, and it is. Close your eyes and take slow breaths in through your nose as deeply as you can. Hold for a few seconds. Release slowly through your mouth. Repeat 5 times.
14. Return a favor. Did a neighbor or friend pick up mail for you while you were out? Walk your dog? Mow your lawn? Even if it was months ago, its not too late to do something in return for a small favor bestowed upon you. Bake brownies for your office colleagues and bring them in. Take a small plant over to your elderly neighbor. Say "yes" to the girl scouts when they come selling the cookies (even if you're on a diet - give them away!). Karma is a wonderful thing.
15. Volunteer. You may think that you do not have time in your busy life, but I'll bet you can find 2-3 hours a month to make a big difference in a few peoples' lives. This is only 1/2 hour a week - a sitcom's time! Soup kitchens always need extra hands. Religious organizations love volunteers to help with many events throughout the year. What about your local Humane Society? Local communities also have events that can use both volunteers and sponsors. Check your local Chamber of Commerce website.
16. Donate. There are so many worthwhile organizations to which you can donate money, it is easy to become overwhelmed and simply close your wallet. I suggest that you pick one cause that has a personal connection, i.e., for health reasons (breast cancer, diabetes, livestrong, etc.) and make an easy annual limit that is within your budget ($10, $50, or more) and then pledge to make that donation. Most of these are tax-deductible, but please do check before giving any money.
17. Laugh. The simple act of laughter releases endorphins and is shown to improve your mood. Even smiling will have that effect. I like to save some of the funny email jokes that get forwarded to me for just these times. If you need a nudge, here's a few links to get you started. I've included my personal favorite comedian, . Ellen DeGeneres
Music is Key to Happiness
18. Listen to music. Put on your favorite tunes and rock the blues away. Or, perhaps you enjoy soothing classical music. Dance around if you can. Paraphrasing one of my favorite bumper stickers: Dance as if no one is watching!
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19. Escape into a good book. Better yet, go to the library or bookstore and simply escape into the experience- the hush, the shuffling feet and soft sounds. Emerge hours later, with some good reads and hopefully feeling a little lighter.
20. Indulge your hobbies. Pull out your camera, your paints or your clay. Its time to get creative again. Do you play piano? Do you like to write? Scrapbook? Getting that creative spark going may be just the ticket to getting out of a little rut. I passed a sign the other day which said: "100% of the shots you don't take, don't go in." Well, now is the time to go for it - start writing that book. Enter that photography contest. Nothing to lose. Have some fun!
21. Paint your nails or shine your shoes (or both!) Buff what you've got. Put a little shine on. Take a little extra time in the morning getting ready and be proud of the results. I recall reading in some trivia that one purchase that women invariably make to improve their mood is a tube of lipstick. Well - get out there and buy some "Paradise Pink" or "Rhumba Red," then! For those of you that believe a suntan is pretty, then let's do it safely, ladies! Fake (in this instance) is good!
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You Can Boost Happiness Today
22. Tell someone that you love them. This is best accompanied by a hug and a kiss. Start with your spouse, significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend, and kids, if you have them. Include parents, siblings, and other relatives. Continue on to other important people in your life. Pets too! You can always get a positive reaction from your dog. I can't really promise as much from a cat, though. But try!
23. Meditate. Find a quiet place and about 10 minutes all to yourself at the beginning or end of the day. Unplug your cell phone and avoid or limit any other interruptions, if you can. This would be a good time to practice the breathing exercises above. Just sit by yourself and listen to your breathing. "Observe" your thoughts, but try not to judge them during this quiet time.
24. Smile along the way. Gas station attendants, taxi drivers, baristas, grocery clerks - all of these people enter our lives each day and we have an opportunity to try to brighten their day and just possibly have the favor returned. A genuine smile and "thank you," seem to be endangered species in our rush to get the dry cleaning and pick up something for dinner before 7:00 p.m. Slow down and reconnect, from time to time.
25. Remember that tomorrow is another day. Whatever it is that is bringing you down, can often seem more manageable in the light of a new day. Sleep on it and see if you have a better outlook when the sun comes up.
© 2008 Stephanie Hicks