1) Wear a bright color. Or have it visible near you throughout your day. Color psychology works to prime your mind for certain messages and moods, like joy or energy. Full yellow, rich pink, warm orange, lively blue, and spring green are all invigorating visual stimuli to gear your mind up for a positive vibe.
2) Make music. Listening to tunes that emphasize a certain mood cause you to feel that mood more easily! Either play an instrument or take ten minutes to cultivate a short pep playlist to plug into during your down days. If you feel crunched for time and making your own mix is not in the cards, try a pre-made playlist on sites or apps like 8tracks or Google Play where you can search by mood or genre.
3) Say cheese. Practicing a half-smile — even lifting just the corners of your mouth into a smile-like shape — is proven to trick your body and its chemicals into thinking you’re happy even when you’re not. Eventually, your body’s production of happy-chemicals like serotonin and dopamine will lighten your mood and leave you smiling for real. A very easy (if silly!) way to leave your mouth in a semi-smile is to bite crosswise on a pencil or chopstick for a little while, like a happy dog holding a bone.
4) Get moving. We’ve been told by countless studies that exercise is firmly tied to our levels of exercise. But it can be so hard to get to the gym, especially when it is cold and dark out when your day is finally done. If dancing through your morning routine isn’t really your thing, the exercise effect can be achieved in part with short, brisk walks built into your everyday life; walking to and from class or the break room, striding to your lunch date, or even pacing a hallway in your house while dinner is on the stove (checking on it often, of course!) are good ways to get that little dose of endorphins in.
5) Have a laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine, and they are right! Much like the semi-smile trick, laughter creates certain chemical production in the body that de-stresses and relaxes. Google a list of your favorite kind of joke (dad jokes, anyone?) or ask a child to tell you one they learned at school recently — kids say the darndest things, after all — and have yourself a good chuckle. Then you can share your new jokes and spread the joy!
6) Eat a healthy lunch. Soulfood can come in the form of real food, too. I’d be a hypocrite if I told you to eat salad for lunch (or any full meal, really), but having some dark leafy greens mixed in with you midday meal can help energize you for the rest of your day. Folate, Vitamin K, and magnesium are only some of the extremely vital nutrients that “rabbit food” provides.
7) Pat a pet. Animals are documented to have seriously positive vibes and to be very good at passing them onto humans. If you don’t have a pet of your own, talk to a friend who has one find a dog park nearby. If you are allergic, allow yourself to look up a cat video or two – it isn’t the same by a long shot, but as has been stated above, laughter is great too!
8) Vitalize with your eyes. Vitamin D — a highly necessary nutrient that is directly linked to happiness — is most commonly absorbed through the skin, though during the winter that can be hard to manage. But vitamin D can also be taken in through the eyes! Try to be out and about in the shortened daylight hours at some point every day if you can — connecting even briefly with the natural world can do wonders. And if you can’t, try looking into a lightbox during breakfast or at your desk at work or home to simulate the sun’s effects on vitamin D production.
9) Treat yourself! Even finally getting around to doing little “wouldn’t it be nice” deeds that you’ve been putting off for ages are good for your mood. Paint your nails, cook your favorite meal, do something creative, or watch that new movie in theaters that you’ve been wanting to see. If you’re mindful of being good to yourself now and again, you’ll have more energy, patience, and happiness as you go about your daily life.
Leave us a note and let us know what else always seems to brighten your day!