5 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Mood

by | Feb 3, 2020 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

Author: Brittany Winfrey

We all have emotions, both good and bad. While it’s part of being human to feel sad, stressed, angry, anxious, etc., it’s not our preferred state of mind. We want to be happy and many of the choices we make are to bring us more happiness.  But sometimes staying positive is tough. Everyone has stressful days at work, arguments that leave us feeling upset, or days where everything feels off. The good news is, you don’t have to make big changes to instantly improve your mood. You can instantly feel more joyful by practicing some of these quick strategies: 

1. Take 10 big breaths

Practicing deep breathing can regulate the nervous system, gives you an anchor so your attention is away from negative thoughts, and brings you back to your body. By breathing slowly and more deeply from your abdomen, you signal your nervous system to calm down. Try this technique either sitting down or standing up. Keeping your spine tall, slowly inhale from your nose and exhale from your mouth, allowing your belly to expand and diminish with each breath. 

2. Spend 2 minutes thinking about something you’re grateful for

There’s a strong correlation between gratitude and well-being. People who are grateful are likely to be happier, hopeful, energetic, and they possess positive emotions more frequently. We can all find something to be grateful for. Do you have running water, good health, a sturdy pair of shoes, or a comfy bed? Find gratitude in what you already have no matter how small it seems. Make it a daily routine to write down five things you’re grateful for when you wake up and you’ll begin the day with more joy for the life you have! 

3. Go for a 15-minute walk outside

Getting outside and moving can give you a natural high. As you log miles, your brain releases “happy” chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, that can lift your mood both during and after your workout. Walking outside has also been shown to lower rates of depression more effectively than walking indoors. The fresh air helps wake us up and the sun can give us a healthy dose of vitamin D. When you’re looking for a quick boost in energy and mood, lace up those shoes and take a walk around the park.

4. Perform an act of kindness

Being kind can be one of the greatest ways to help yourself. Giving to others can give you what is known as the “helper’s high.” Whether you’re giving tangible things, an act of service, or a compliment, being kind pays back. Some quick ways to give when you’re feeling down include: holding the door open for someone, texting nice words to a friend, offering food to those in need, or just paying for someone’s coffee.  

5. Meditate for 5 minutes

Meditation can help lower stress levels. Being stressed signals us to go into fight-or-flight mode, which results in increased heart rate, blood pressure, upset stomach, aches, and pains, etc. When we meditate, we teach the body to relax in the moment. Even just five minutes of meditation can bring ease to the body and calm our minds.  Many people find that habitual meditation may also help improve anxiety and depression. There are many great apps that offer short guided meditations. Even just sitting quietly for five minutes focusing on your breath and body sensations can be an excellent way to bring your mind back to the present and away from your thoughts. 

While having undesirable emotions is part of being human, we have more influence over our mood than most of us realize. By incorporating one or more of the above suggestions into your daily routine, you’ll be more likely to maintain an even mood throughout the day, which will help you live a more joyful life.