- Mental Health
10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Mood And Feel Happier
How To Deal With Stress
Dealing with stress is something that everyone goes through, but stress doesn't have to ruin your life. There are easy ways to improve your mood and find happiness, even through the toughest of times.
I'll admit, for a long time, I was a very unhappy person. My life wasn't bad; I had a decent job, a loving husband and friends. But I always wanted MORE: a promotion at work, deeper relationships, a bigger apartment. I wasn't exactly materialistic, but always had the sense that I wasn't good enough -- that I needed to lose weight, be more popular, make more money, have more status to be a better person.
And you know what? This mindset really interfered with my life. Instead of enjoying the things that I already had, I spent way too much time dwelling on what could be or what might've been. Instead of celebrating my talents, I concentrated on my negative traits. Because of this, I often became depressed and didn't have a good time when I easily could've. And I'd get stressed out over little things.
The good news is, as I've gotten older, I've become more adept at dealing with stress and finding that so-called happy place. I'm not cheerful all the time -- NO ONE is -- but I'm a lot more positive and happy than I've ever been, mainly because I've chosen to change a few things in my life.
Just to clarify, depression is a very real condition so if you're feeling seriously depressed, please see a doctor or psychiatrist. Also, I do realize that there are times when it is difficult to be happy (i.e. if a loved one dies or you're laid off from work or are ill, etc.). That said, these tips I'm about to offer explain how you can feel happier on a day-to-day basis. So that the next time someone cuts you off in line or a friend annoys you you won't be overcome with anger and depression. It IS possible to change your general mindset, with a little practice!
Lift Your Spirits
Boost Your Mood
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Here are some easy ideas for feeling better about yourself:
1. Don't curse or swear. Yes, adults swear, especially when they're angry. But try not to curse in your everyday life. There's no reason why, when you're speaking with your friend, you need to say, "Oh my God, that f-ing dinner I had was so f--ing awesome." Cursing is understandable in small amounts: When you stub your toe or forget your keys or your boss yells at you, well, who WOULDN'T say a bad word? But when every other sentence is peppered with the F word (believe me, I've heard people who speak like this), it's annoying and makes you look bad. PLUS, it's negative. To me, cursing is something I do when I'm angry or upset, so when I swear, it puts me in an even worse mood. I'm not saying to go around being all, "Oh, gee, golly, heck, H-E double hockey sticks!" but negative words will bring you down.
2. Talk to a friend or write in a journal. When I'm feeling down, I have a few select friends who I confide in. These are close friends whom I can count on, who'll have advice for me or at least cheer me up. I don't like to overshare with everyone -- not everyone needs to know my business -- but my close friends give me guidance and vice versa. When I don't think I have someone to speak with, I write in a blog. Putting my feelings down on paper (or on the screen) helps release them and generally makes me feel better.
3. Act silly! Don't be afraid to access your "inner child" and be a nut. And try to do this when you're not drinking so that your behavior is coming from a genuine place. Sing and dance along to the radio, have a wacky conversation with your cat, play a silly game with your child -- do something kind of ridiculous to make yourself laugh. My friend Karen and I have a little thing we do where we send each other moronic texts with silly words or jokes. They make me smile, let me know that she's thinking of me and cheer me up. Meanwhile, my husband and I will joke around a lot and do silly things just to keep life fun.
4. Get a hobby. Find something you love to do and then take some time to do it -- even just 10 minutes a day. It can be knitting, writing, singing, playing sports, keeping a scrapbook, baking ... there are a million things to do out there that are worth checking out. Last year, while I was laid up with a broken leg, I discovered jewelry making and fell in love with it. Now I'm starting a business and even keep a little blog of my work (see sidebar). But while I've made some money on it, the main thing is that I really ENJOY doing it. When I'm stressed out or have had a bad day, this is something that helps me escape for a while.
5. Make someone else feel better or help someone else out. One of the easiest ways to cheer yourself up is to cheer someone else up first. You can do this by working for a charity or helping someone less fortunate. Or you can even just make someone else's day by sending a card or writing a note to say how much that person means to you. With my aforementioned jewelry making, my favorite thing to do is surprise friends with earrings or bracelets or necklaces. I love seeing their faces when I present them with a gift from the heart. Jewelry is my thing, but you can do this with baked goods or even a pleasant phone call.
6. Get some daylight. I work long hours so there are times in the winter when I literally don't see the sun; I leave early in the morning, come home late and because I'm in a windowless area of the office, get absolutely no daylight. Know what? I was feeling depressed and kind of sluggish. I then made a point to go outside each day, just for a few minutes, so I could enjoy the sun. Even if it's cold, I'll sit and relax and take it in, and just let the daylight wash over me. It's improved my mood and my productivity at work.
7. Take a break from technology. Nowadays, iPads and cell phones let you work anywhere at anytime. But everyone needs a rest, even from the calls of friends and relatives. Take time, if you can, even just a half hour, where you unplug and just can't be reached. Then enjoy time with your book, child, some music, etc. For me, my "break time" is on the bus ride home. During this time, I turn off my cell phone and close my eyes, or sometimes I'll just listen to my iPod and enjoy the scenery. I look forward to this little ritual each day, just having 30 minutes or so where I can be alone with my own thoughts.
8. Eat well. I'm not saying to eat expensively, I'm saying to eat WELL. Drink enough water, have plenty of fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. Stay away from processed foods. When you're busy, sometimes it's easiest to grab something from the vending machine or drive-through, but I always feel my best when I put food that's good for me into my body.
9. Don't worry about others' opinions. Yeah, it's easier said than done. Believe me, I know. I still worry about what other people will think of me. But if you spend too much time worrying about what other people might think, it'll take away from YOUR happiness. Here's a very personal example from me: I recently considered getting involved in a lawsuit that my heart just wasn't in. But because I received some outside pressure, I went ahead and called a lawyer and booked some appointments. I was not happy, but I didn't want to disappoint everyone else who thought I should go through with this. I finally put my foot down and decided to not pursue it after all -- and it was like a weight had been lifted from me. I wish I'd stuck to my guns in the first place!
10. Fake it until you make it. Feeling your emotions is very important. If you deny that you're in pain or upset, everything will build until you explode. But for those times when you can get by with just a boost, give it to yourself. Let's say it's a rainy Monday morning and you just don't feel like going to work: smile and plan to have a good day. Or you have to meet with your annoying in-laws: smile and plan to enjoy the evening. It's impossible to be happy all of the time, but I think it's worth it to at least try to be in a good mood before gving up entirely!