Maybe you had a stressful day at work and now you can’t seem to shake the bad mood. Or maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and have been doing your best Grumpy Cat impression all day. Don’t worry, we’ve got you! Read on for 9 little things you can do right now that have been proven to shake a bad mood in minutes:
1. Sing at the Top of Your Lungs
Good news, shower singers. Columbia University researchers found that those who sing along to their favorite songs are 81 percent less likely to fall into a bad mood. Apparently, doing your best Mariah impression does more than wake up your neighbors. It also produces vibrations in the brain that kickstart endorphin production, helping you feel calm for an hour or more.
2. Smell Something Old
No, not like old socks. But you know how a whiff of the perfume your high school sweetheart used to wear 15 years ago can instantly transport your brain back to that lovey-dovey time in your life? Specific smells are great at triggering memories and nostalgic feelings—and you can use that to your advantage. If the memory a scent evokes is a pleasant one, it can actually improve your mood and lower your stress level. So go ahead and sniff some Play-Doh or oatmeal cookies or whatever brings those happy nostalgic memories flooding back.
3. Watch YouTube Videos
Remember that time you visited the Grand Canyon? You probably felt pretty amazed and awesome and all other sort of good stuff, right? Well, according to a study published in Psychological Science, there’s an explanation: awe-inspiring views make us feel more present and expand our sense of time, which in turn makes us feel happier and can even lead to a better quality of life in the long-term. The good news? You don’t have to live by the Grand Canyon to get the benefits—just watching a video of something like space exploration or waterfalls (even for a few seconds) will do the trick. So now you can show your boss this article when she catches you on YouTube in the middle of the workday!
4. Pet a Puppy
Research says that petting a fluffy friend can lower your heart rate, decrease your body’s cortisol (a stress hormone) levels, and boost your levels of feel-good oxytocin. One study even found that petting a stuffed toy animal can have immune boosting effects—so whether you pet your pet Fido or go through your kid’s stash of stuffed animals, you’ll feel better after!
5. Give Someone a Compliment
Hey, you look really nice today! Love your hair! Man, I feel better already. And that’s probably because giving compliments has been shown to boost mood and lower stress; research has found that being uplifting to other people boosts your levels of happy hormones dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin.
6. Eat a Spicy Meal
Bad day at work? Get Indian food takeout on your way home. Spicy foods contain something called capsaicin, a compound that adds that element of heat to your food. It also gives your brain an endorphin boost, putting you in a better mood in minutes, say researchers.
7. Buy a Plant
Just the other day, a study found that gardeners are less likely to display signs of depression than non-gardeners, and that 80 percent of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners. But you don’t have to have a green thumb to get the benefits: just added plants to your home or office can reduce stress and make you feel more motivated and productive, according to a study published in HortScience.
8. Get Under a Blanket
There’s something about a bad day that just makes us want to get under the covers and hide (alright, or nap). Follow your instincts! Your brain and body are linked, and researchers have found that the sensation of having something soothing touch your skin really can have a significant impact on your mood. Commence afternoon napping!
9. Take a Hot Shower
Heating up your body’s core temperature affects the muscles, decreasing internal activity and giving you a feeling of relaxation. You can warm up by working out, but if you’re feeling a little too crabby to make it to the treadmill, you can get the same temporary mood boost by taking a hot shower or bath.
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