Give your mood a boost with these happiness-enhancing tips
Michelle von Hahn
Welcome to Next Gen Natural, a column where we share a Gen Z perspective on natural health and wellness. I’m Michelle—alive’s Digital Assistant and creator of the Healthy Num Num food blog. I love healthy living and want to inspire you to integrate wellness into all parts of your life, regardless of your age.
We all know that each day has its ups and downs. The good news is, to help with the latter, there are proven ways to lift your spirits, including grounding yourself outside or enjoying a piece of dark chocolate (yes, really!). Even if you’re not feeling down, you can implement these feel-good tips to help you live a happier and healthier life.
Brighten up a friend, family member, or even a stranger’s day by performing an act of kindness. Doing the dishes for your spouse, gifting your neighbor a homemade treat, or giving a thoughtful compliment to a passerby on the street are just a few ways to make someone’s day. Not only does this improve someone else’s mood, but it also helps you feel uplifted. This benefit applies to kids as well as adults: a recent study found that children who were generous felt calmer overall.
Heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”? I often compare parts of my life to others’ after scrolling through apps like TikTok and Instagram. Social media can also subtly affect your mood by making you feel anxious and may even contribute to depression. Try turning your phone off completely or placing it in another room for one hour. Up for taking a longer break? Research shows that disconnecting from social media for one week improves well-being, depression, and anxiety.
Studies show that gratitude journaling can increase your happiness and overall mood. Try writing down or saying out loud a few things you are grateful for to remind yourself what you can be appreciative of. Expressing gratitude for the simple moments in life (such as finding a new favorite book or having an unexpected day off) is just as important as celebrating the big events. You can also keep a running gratitude list in your phone’s note-taking app that you can quickly reference whenever you need a mood boost.
For all the chocolate lovers, here’s another reason to enjoy a piece. Research suggests that even a small square of chocolate may be enough to induce positive effects on your mood (just hearing that boosts my mood!). But before reaching for just any chocolate bar, keep in mind that evidence shows the greatest benefits come from dark chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao solids. Evidence also suggests that the experience of eating the chocolate matters: you must enjoy the piece for mood improvements to occur. So, if you enjoy eating chocolate, then you’ll enjoy the mood-boosting effects it brings!
Interacting with a dog increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is the same hormone that bonds mothers to babies. Don’t have a pup? Set up a visit with a friend who has a dog or offer to pet sit. You can also go for a walk outside (which provides its own benefits) and hope to pass by a neighbor walking their dog. If you have a cat, you can reap the benefits too! In one study, cat owners claimed to feel happier and more confident than non-pet owners. Another study concluded that the typical temperament of cats may have a positive impact on owners’ physiological and psychological health.
One study found that grounding, also known as earthing, improves mood more than just relaxing without earth contact. Summertime is my favorite time to practice earthing by walking barefoot on the beach or grass. Live in a city or don’t have easy access to nature? Even a few breaths of fresh air can leave you with an uplifted and calmer mindset.
Your clothing has the power to alter your mood for the better. Dress to impress yourself by wearing clothes in which you feel your best. If I’m wearing an outfit I love, my day seems to go better and my outlook on my daily tasks is more positive. So, this is your reminder to stop saving your clothes or accessories for special occasions and start enjoying wearing them!
Referred to as the sunshine spice, saffron shows promise in reducing anxiety and balancing mood. Research shows it may also be effective in alleviating mild to moderate depression. Reap the mood-elevating benefits by diffusing saffron oil in a diffuser or steeping saffron threads for a cup of tea. This Saffron Quinoa with Almonds and Currants recipe is a delicious summer meal to enjoy and uses 1/2 tsp of saffron threads.
Studies show vitamin D supplementation may have a positive impact on depression. Get your daily vitamin D from certain foods, such as 1 Tbsp of cod liver oil or a single serving of salmon. Or soak up your vitamin D from the sun by being in direct sunlight (not through a window) for 10 to 30 minutes. Especially if you are inside during most of the day, taking a vitamin D supplement helps ensure sure that you’re getting enough.
If your mood is feeling low for long periods of time, reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or professional to get support. They may be able to offer advice to improve feelings of stress or anxiousness.
Having flowers around is a mood booster that lowers not only stress, but also anxiety. In fact, simply looking at a photo of flowers can help increase positivity! Reap the benefits of flowers by finding a rose bush outside to smell or creating a bouquet with flowers from your garden. Quick tip: look for red and yellow flowers, as a study found these colors give you a higher amount of cheerfulness and relaxation compared to white florals.
See how many of these tips you can incorporate in a day for the ultimate mood boost.