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10 Instant Mood Boosters

Jan 26, 2013 03:03PM ● By Erin Frisch

10 Instant Mood Boosters

Sometimes, quick fixes really do work best. When the winter blues hit, it’s hard to stay cheerful. Luckily, there are endless ways to boost your mood and feel no-cost, instant joy. Once you have tested these, make your own personalized list for when you need an extra pick-me-up.

• Smile. Yes, it’s as simple as that. The first step to being happy is convincing yourself that you are. And nothing will convince you better than a great big grin from ear to ear. Look in the mirror and turn up those corners, no matter how forced it feels. Tell yourself a really stupid joke, and see yourself lighten up. I keep a log of all the funniest moments I have experienced so that all I have to do is recall the instance, and I can’t help but chortle.

• Get some physical contact. Whether you hug your husband, your wife, your child, your Labradoodle, or yourself, nothing is more humanizing than physical connection. Take the time to touch someone, rub your pet behind the ears, or kiss a loved one good night. Physical attachments are a reminder of what we live for. You will be surprised how much warmth you get in return.

• Warm up. Besides sharing a hug, there are other ways to warm up those numb toes. Keeping your body at a regulated temperature will help you stay in a good mood and prevent you from wasting energy trying to get warm. Make it a habit to pull on wool socks in the morning so your feet stay toasty all day in the office. When you go outside, always add layers of winter gear: hat, coat, scarf, gloves, and boots. You won’t regret having too many layers on. When you’re sitting around at home, pull on an extra sweater or fingerless mittens. Use a heating pad or wrap your fingers around a mug of hot tea. Don’t let being cold distract you from the joys of life.

• Enjoy citrus. Studies show that lemon and orange scents can improve your mood and energy, so burn a citrus candle in your home or office. Load up on oranges and grapefruits at the grocery store; they’re at their peak this time of year. You can cut them up and float slices in ice water or make lemon tea. Try lemon-scented hand sanitizer for an extra bonus. You’ll lighten your mood and purify your hands of all the flu and cold germs floating around.

• Sing your heart out. Even if your voice isn’t Broadway-worthy, singing is a great way to release fear and raw emotion. Pick a time when you are sure to be alone and uninterrupted (the shower is a great starting venue). Belt out Gloria Gaynor, Elvis, Hannah Montana, or Italian opera. Take yourself back to a time when you didn’t care what others thought. You might even find that you judge yourself and others less.

• Accomplish one task. My favorite happiness-inducer is checking things off my to-do list until it turns into a Ta-Dah list. Even completing basic, habitual actions is enough to give you a sense of accomplishment. If you can do something in one minute or less, why put it off until later? Pick any task that you have been recycling into the “Ignore” pile at the back of your mind, and just sweep it out of the picture. Your life will feel more your own when you have control over the loose ends. Organization is one of the many keys to happiness.

• Chug eight ounces. In the dead of winter, it’s easy to get dehydrated, which can make you feel cranky, weak, and tired. A perfect fix is to fill a tall glass with fresh water and down it. Little else is as energizing and gets your heart pumping with so little effort. Just as you tend your houseplants, keep yourself well watered to avoid becoming limp and wilted.

• Reach out/make a connection. One of the most energizing ways to brighten your day is to bring old memories back into the picture. Send an e-mail to a long-distance friend, or even better, call him or her on the phone for a real-time chat. Focus on really listening to your friend, and then enjoy your turn to unburden and share news. For a more traditional means of communication, send a handwritten note via snail mail. Have fun making it creative and fancy. You might be surprised by what you get in return. Brighten the recipient’s day with a handcrafted bookmark or a recent photo of yourself or your pet.

• Go for a walk. Peace. Quiet. Light. Movement. All these can be accomplished in about ten minutes, in one of the simplest and most acclaimed mood boosters. Even when it’s blustery out, bundle up and charge outside. A short walk around the block or even just down your driveway to the mailbox will get your blood pumping. This is one of the easiest ways to feel good, and you’ll have more energy as a result. In the winter months, it can feel daunting to exercise everyday. But three short walks over the course of a day can add up to an hour or more of walking.

• Bake something. There are few things more satisfying than taking a mound of flour, sugar, and eggs and whipping them into pie pans, muffin tins, or cookie trays. This is an almost foolproof way to instant satisfaction; all you have to do is follow the recipe. No matter how badly your day is going, you can be sure that if you mix together brown sugar, flour, eggs, butter, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate chips, and bake for fifteen minutes at 350 degrees, you will end up with a tray of warm, classic, melty chocolate chip cookies. No amount of stress can take that away from you.

So now that you have a list, choose one and catch some instant happiness. What do you do to put a smile on your face?


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