By: Sharon Boone
If long workdays and a lack of time for yourself have you feeling down, try one (or more!) of these quick ways to immediately boost your mood and make you smile.
1. Get a foot massage. Targeting the reflexology points on the foot stimulates the release of endorphins -- feel-good hormones that can produce a feeling of euphoria. Unfortunately, getting frequent massages involves dropping a dozen not-too-subtle “Boy, do my feet hurt!” hints to your significant other -- and a grudging foot massage won’t exactly have you breaking into a satisfied grin. Instead, head to the nearest nail salon. That minute-long foot and calf massage that comes in between the pumice and the polish is pure bliss.
2. Change your ringtone to the sound of your niece laughing, or get your boyfriend to record the punch line to your favorite inside joke to signal a call.
3. Do something new. Take a different way home, reverse the route for your run, turn a cartwheel or do some inverted yoga poses. Viewing the world from a different angle can help you see the funny side of life.
4. Smell sweets. Certain aromas can instantly transport us to happier times. The scent of freshly baked apple pie wafting from a bakery reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen. That hit of fruitier-than-nature-intended strawberry, cherry and sugar from bubble gum can take you back to fun times in grade school -- when smiles were plentiful, life was simpler and only your mom worried about your cavities.
5. Tune Pandora or your radio to some salsa or dance music, even for just a few minutes.
6. Play with a dog. Studies show that spending time with animals is an instant mood-lifter. Don’t have a dog? Log on to an Internet puppy cam, such as the Southeastern Guide Dog website.
7. Skip the status update. Instead of tweeting your memories, set a date to see your pals. Studies show that actual human interaction can improve not only your mood, but also your health.
8. Write a fan letter. Make like a teen and gush about your love for someone. (You don’t have to declare yourself Team Edward or Jacob.) Sending a note to your favorite author, the chef at your go-to restaurant -- even if that’s the corner pizzeria -- will make someone’s day … and yours too.
9. Love yourself. While you’re sharing your accolades, give some to yourself. Blow yourself a kiss in the mirror just before you leave the house in the morning. Or practice repeating a self-positive mantra any time you need a little boost.
10. Go fly a kite -- literally. Dutch researchers found that making upward movements, such as reaching toward the sky, produced positive memories and resulted in an improved mood. And a slew of studies have shown that just being in nature can boost your happiness factor.
11. Leave a (slightly) risque message on your partner’s cell phone. The naughty grin you’ll have as you leave it will only be matched by his beaming with excitement as he listens to it later.
12. Do a whole lot of nothing. Sometimes, doing nothing is all you need to feel like you’re experiencing a little indulgence. Take a sick day and go to the cinema, or spend an entire Sunday lounging around in cozy pajamas and slippers.
13. Pay it forward. Instead of silently grumbling about the brusque barista or rolling your eyes in exasperation at your grumpy cubicle-mate, find something good to say and pay them a compliment. The more befuddled they look as they try to work out why you’re being so nice, the bigger your smile will become.
14. Set your DVR to record a few episodes of your favorite old-school cartoons to cheer yourself up.
15. Smile. Often, faking it until you make it actually works.
Also read: “2012: Your Year of Passion”
Sharon Boone is the former lifestyle editor at Fitness and has been on staff at Essence, Glamour, Seventeen and Woman’s Day. Her work has also appeared in Health, Natural Health and InStyle Weddings.
Do You Have Hang Ups About Swimsuit Season?
How much does your weight fluctuate in a year?