Whether it’s due to stress, hormones, or seasonal shifts, finding yourself feeling blue from time to time is perfectly normal. Thankfully, there are a plethora of research-backed natural pick-me-ups proven to boost your mood. Just pick your favorite … or two.
Call a friend. Not only could a phone date with your mom or BFF offer social support when you’re down, hearing a supportive, familiar voice prompts the brain to release the mood-boosting hormone oxytocin, according to research from University of Wisconsin at Madison postdoctoral fellow Leslie J. Seltzer, PhD. So, go on, phone a friend … it will make their day and yours.
Follow the sun. Just 20 minutes spent outside in good weather can boost your mood, plus broaden thinking and improve working memory. That may be due, in part, to sunlight hitting your skin stimulating your production of Vitamin D, a known mood-booster.
Grin and wear it. If you’re fake smiling and you don’t really mean it, you’re bound to worsen your mood. But if you smile as a result of a positive thought – like a tropical beach vacation or your child’s art project – you’ll be genuinely happier in a flash.
Get out and embrace nature. Participating in sports and other recreational activities (think running, gardening, or bird-watching) outside are associated with increased well-being and happiness.
Plan a vacation. Even if you don’t end up actually traveling, just taking a quick break from work to think about your next trip could lead to a happiness boost. The reason: You’re likely to enjoy that sense of anticipation. In fact, if you actually have a vacation scheduled, it could lead to an elevated mood that lasts eight weeks.
Donate or volunteer. Even the smallest charitable act can have a lasting positive effect on your mood. Specifically, try spending money on other people or giving money to charity in a way that will foster a social connection (think giving a gift to your mother-in-law or donating to a local charity in person). This simple act was found to significantly bolster happiness.
Cultivate gratitude. Merely practicing grateful thinking regularly can increase your set point of happiness by as much as 25 percent, according to positive psychology researcher Robert Emmons, PhD. Try using a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks, which could lead to better sleep and more energy.
Sniff a citrus oil. Perhaps the brighter a fruit, the sunnier your mood? Citrus oils, like sweet orange, grapefruit, and lemon, can be used to uplift when you're feeling down and draggy, explains Leslie Cohen, aromatherapist and founder of A Blissful Heart Wellness Collective in New Jersey - USA. “With these oils, just beware of putting them on your skin before you go out in the sun, as they can cause photo sensitivity.”