Little things you can do to boost your happiness and keep stress in check—all day long.Improve Few things match the irksome sensation that bubbles up inside of you. Some days staying positive and upbeat can feel like an uphill battle. Maybe it was a stressful day at work, a fight with a friend, or even just an off day — whatever it is, there are definitely things you can do to improve your mood and you can feel the happiness.
“How happiness experts stay centered, optimistic, grateful and satisfied in their busy lives—and how you can, too”
C’mon, get happy: It’s not easy being upbeat when life’s little bumps—from looming work deadlines to a streak of cloudy days—can easily send your mood sinking and stress levels soaring. But what’s sweeter than that warm feeling you get from sipping a peppermint-spiced latte on a chilly morning? These 10 small, feel-good moves offer a major mood boost. Try one—or all—to feel happier and calmer in no time.
Regardless, there will be times when your slump is nothing but quicksand—burying you deeper and deeper until you’re fully submerged. The good news is, life is about perspective. There is a way out; you just have to change the way you see things.
Need an instant mood makeover? Research shows it can take just seconds to go from feeling glum to feeling good, if you pick the right approach. Here are seven of the simplest, most effective ways to fast-track your happiness.
Finding Happiness #1: College left me with a mountain of debt
No matter how you look at it, debt is never a pleasant thing. Instead of thinking about what you don’t have (i.e. a truck full of money and gold), think about what you’ve gained—an education. Millions of people all are around the world would give their right arm to be given an opportunity to educate themselves. People take loans out for houses, cars, businesses, etc., all of which could be revoked instantly. Your education is priceless.
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Finding Happiness #2: Hug Someone You Care About
A shoulder rub or a pat on the hand will stimulate your touch receptors, automatically releasing the feel-good brain chemical oxytocin and at the same time decreasing the stress hormones in your body. Hugging will give you these physical benefits plus the added emotional support that comes from connecting with someone you care about. For best results, try sharing a squeeze for around six seconds, the amount of time some research suggests is necessary to really harness the power of a hug.
Finding Happiness #3: Get A Good Laugh
According to an article on Prevention, a study conducted by Stanford University showed that laughter increases dopamine in our brains, which is a chemical that elevates mood. And according to the Mayo Clinic, laughter also increases oxygen to our bodies and cools down our stress response system, resulting in a positive, relaxed feeling. So the next time you’re in a bad mood, try pulling up some Amy Schumer or an SNL digital short on YouTube — you’ll probably feel a lot better!
Finding Happiness #4: Get Enough Sleep
Even though most of us don’t get nearly enough sleep these days, everyone knows that sleep is important: human beings need sleep to live and function. But what a lot of people don’t know or misunderstand about sleep is how important it is to our overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.
Research shows sleep can help keep our emotions in balance, and a lack of sleep can do quite the opposite. Let’s be real for a second, is there anything better than getting some great shut eye?
Finding Happiness #5: Sing in the shower
The shower, with its cocoon of privacy and superlative acoustics, brings out the diva in us all. And we would be wise to let her take the steamy stage and croon away. Music therapists believe that singing boosts your mood. Bonus: singing also enhances immunity by increasing antibodies that fight sickness, according to one German study. So whether your style is Adele or Britney Spears, belt your heart out and soak in singing’s mood and health benefits.
Finding Happiness #6: Take it all in and Play music
“Little things in life that inspire joy are often subtle and don’t always grab your attention,” says Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, author of Positivity. So be on the lookout for small wonders: butterflies in your garden, an amazingly bright full moon. Listen to your favorite upbeat song and you’ll be happier in seconds. “Music has a powerful influence over state of mind,” says Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Waltham, Massachusetts. That’s because music—especially songs that make you boogie—activates the part of our brain that’s hardwired for pleasure.
Finding Happiness #7: Dress to Impress
Casual wear may equal comfort, but it’s also the dress-code of the depressed, say British scientists. To feel good fast, reach for the opposite type of apparel. According to one poll, a majority of women reach for a favorite dress on days they’re feeling happy, so for an instant perk-up, put on a special occasion outfit. A quick glance in the mirror will help your mood improve.
Finding Happiness #8: My life never goes the way I’ve planned
It wouldn’t be called life if every day was premeditated. What are the memories that are glued to the back of your eyelids? I can take a guess that most of them are the sporadic, spontaneous moments in life when you just “went with it.” If you’ve mapped your entire life out, you might be wildly disappointed when things don’t go your way. On the other hand, you can look at every day like a new adventure. Who knows where you’ll end up?
Finding Happiness #9: Shop smart
Money may buy happiness, but only if you spend it wisely. To get more happiness for your dollar, splurge for experiences instead of stuff. Miriam Tatzel, PhD, of Empire State College surveyed 329 shoppers and found that “experiences”—consumers who are easygoing about spending on a great meal out or a concert, for example—are happier than those who lavish their money on material goods such as clothes or jewelry. Added bonus: Experiences allow you to spend quality time with family and friends; a new pair of shoes is a solo endeavor.
Finding Happiness #10: Touch your toes
“It opens up your hip joints, which is where most people store tension,” says Dr. Oz. Hold the position for a minute, then slowly roll up. As you lift, so will your mood.
What makes you happy?
Besides the big stuff like family, health, work and faith, you probably treasure at least one small, regular ritual that brings you peace, joy, sanity, flow and reflection. Unwittingly over the years, you have probably developed and perfected a strategy for cultivating qualities proven to feed a positive outlook: gratitude, optimism, awe, compassion, mindfulness and physical health, for instance. And it’s probably not by writing in a leather-bound gratitude journal every night or sitting in the lotus position chanting “om” each morning. Happy habits don’t need to be formal or fit idealized notions of tranquility or all-out jubilation, but they should be personalized.
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