I have a confession: I’m on a constant, ever-evolving search for the best mood boosters that’ll immediately pull me out of a funk. Because here’s the thing about feeling down—it can happen in an instant. One moment, you’re taking a hot girl walk, feeling your best… but the next? Negative energy sweeps you away. Don’t get me wrong: We can’t be happy all the time, nor should that be the goal. But feeling down doesn’t feel great. So to reconnect with the lighter side of life, I made a list of my go-to, tried-and-true mood boosters

Remember: There’s zero shame in finding yourself in a funk or a rut every now and then—it happens to us all. The important thing is to find a few proactive things you can do to help lift yourself out of it quickly and turn your mood around.

If you’re craving a good old belly laugh or simply need a break from the headlines, the 13 mood boosters below are guaranteed to do the trick. Keep scrolling for the practices, routines, rituals, and indulgences that help me out on the regular, preventing my funks from lasting too long and quickly propelling me back to my happier, more joyful self! I have a feeling they’ll do the same for you, too

Feature image by Belathée Photography.

Image by Michelle Nash

1. Journal Those Feelings!

When you’re feeling down, it’s tempting to want to distract yourself from those negative emotions by scrolling through social media or finding a show on Netflix in hopes of numbing them out. But the truth is, this rarely works to truly lift my spirits. When I finish the binge session, my funk is usually still there. Instead, find a journal you love and take a few minutes to write down your thoughts. Allow yourself to openly and honestly express your feelings, move through them, and get to the bottom of why you’re feeling that way.

Releasing those negative emotions onto the page and closing them away inside your journal gives your feelings the attention and expression they deserve. Plus, the practice frees up your mind from continuing to mull them over. Negative energy now released, your mind can approach the rest of your day with positivity! Don’t forget to keep that journal in your purse so that you can boost your mood wherever you are.

2. Plan Something To Look Forward To

Having a fun carrot dangling in my calendar makes a huge difference in my ability to power through the harder moments and days. I’ve realized that my funks are often from getting a little lulled into boredom by the rhythms of normal weekly life responsibilities—work, meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, parenting—you know the drill. I stay so busy with the everyday that I often forget to take the time to pencil in any fun additions to my calendar to get excited about. Alternatively, the second I schedule in a drink out with my husband or a walk around the lake with a friend, my mood is entirely different! Even looking forward to it brings a sense of joyful anticipation.

So, whether it’s happy hour with your girlfriends, a date night with your partner, a special outing with your kids, or an exciting vacation in six months, plan something fun that you’ll look forward to, and put it on your calendar, stat!

Image by Michelle Nash

3. Treat Yourself to Flowers

It’s widely known that having plants in your space reduces stress levels and serves as one of the ultimate mood boosters. So, head over to your favorite flower shop or grocery store and pick out some flowers that bring a smile to your face. My personal positive mood-inducing color palette? Anything yellow or white with a mix of greenery. On a budget? Baby’s breath (a.k.a. Gypsophila) is super affordable, goes a long way, and on its own adds a sweet, whimsical touch to any space. Back at your home or office, take the time to trim your flowers (this process in itself has a therapeutic effect!), break them up into a number of small vases and display them where you’ll see them often. I’m all about a guilt-free purchase that keeps on giving, and flowers are an all-around winner—no buyer’s remorse here!

Image by Michelle Nash

4. Tidy One Small Space

I believe 100 percent in the words of Gretchen Rubin: Outer order leads to inner calm. And for me, inner calm absolutely translates to a better mood. So for a quick pick-me-up, choose one small space—maybe it’s your desk or the top drawer of your vanity—and tidy it completely. The satisfaction you’ll feel by completing a small, manageable project from start to finish and being able to find things a little more easily will propel you forward with renewed energy.

5. Get Out in Nature

Find a spot where you can step outside, breathe some fresh air and have a view of nature. It doesn’t have to be anything special, but there’s something about simply seeing leaves rustle, hearing the wind blow, or watching a bee move from flower to flower that slows you down, calms the mind, and makes you feel part of a bigger, beautiful picture. Suddenly, those worries feel a little smaller and your mood is lifted. Mother Nature, she’s pretty magical!

Image by Claire Huntsberger

6. Do Some Deep Breathing

I ran across this little exercise the other day that’s meant primarily to encourage mindfulness in children, but I immediately thought—why not for adults, too? I’ve seen it called the Take Five Exercise, 5-Finger Breathing, the “Starfish Practice,” or just plain old hand-tracing breathing. Regardless of the name, it’s a fantastic practice that will lift your mood quickly and effectively by flooding your blood with oxygen, calming your thoughts, and allowing you to be present where you are. Using your index finger, simply trace around your opposite hand’s fingers slowly as you breathe in and out. On the in-breath, trace up the outside of your pinky finger. On the out-breath, trace down the other side. Repeat for the next four fingers. If you enjoy it, go wild and repeat to your heart’s content!

7. Put Yourself on a 24-Hour Social Media Fast

For 24 hours, do. not. touch. your social media. Even the most self-assured of us are susceptible to the negative effects of the online comparison game, so let’s experiment with eliminating any opportunity for it. Pick a start and stop time and notice where the extra time you find in the in-between moments takes you. Pay attention to where your mind goes, what you find yourself wanting to do, and how you start to feel. If you’re anything like me, missing those little updates on my friends made me crave social connection, encouraging me to—wait for it—call someone and have a few lovely, truly connecting conversations. And as we all know, true social connections and deep relationships are one of the best mood boosters around.

8. Learn Something New

Life-long learners, unite! Newsflash: You don’t have to be in school to immerse yourself in a new subject or discover a topic that transforms your worldview. I have a friend, who, every spring, welcomes in the season of growth and opportunity by identifying one thing she wants to learn more about. From there, she dives in head-first, obsessing over every angle of her self-designed course. The process of brainstorming what you want to become an expert in can be both energizing and inspiring. Trust me, even if you’d rather not relive your high school years, you’ll want to take this mood booster for a spin.

9. Turn on Some Fun Tunes

I’m that girl who cannot help but move when a fun beat comes on. I probably unknowingly embarrass myself on the daily in my car at stoplights and in traffic, and I’m OK with it! Why? Because a fun song instantly boosts my mood. So, put in those earbuds or crank up your favorite dance song on Spotify, and I dare you not to perk up a bit! Don’t have a dance playlist at the ready? We’ve got you covered—just hit play on our May playlist and get moving.

10. Connect With Your Community

It’s been alluded to throughout, but there’s nothing better than dedicating intentional time to your family or friends. Call up a pal you’ve lost touch with just to see how they are, or send an email to an older relative who’d love to hear from you. Even simply putting away your phone (see mood-booster #7) and listening to your kiddos’ days or your partner’s work can remind you that your presence alone is a gift to receive.

11. Go on a Quick Beauty-Finding Mission

Give yourself five minutes and just one task: Find something beautiful. It might be a dainty leaf you see, an adorable laugh you hear, a mesmerizing pattern or shadow on the sidewalk, or an entrancing song you hear. Not only will you find a few mood boosters that you enjoy, but just the act of looking for small glimpses of beauty in your surroundings will give you a happier outlook on the world around you.

Image by Michelle Nash

12. Have Fun With Food

Sure, some mornings you just can’t be bothered with breakfast and weeknights are hectic enough without a 30-minute meal on the books. But if time and resources allow, try pausing and really connecting with your hunger, asking yourself what would make you feel satiated, supported, and fill you with joy? If it’s a yogurt or grain bowl, curate a colorful mix of components that are a visual feast for the eyes. Or, if a salad’s calling your name, lean into the feeling of gratitude for having so many fresh, in-season options available. Bonus: Cook with a friend or family member, reveling in the quality time you get to spend in the kitchen.

13. Dream Up Your Brightest Future

Vision boarding strikes the paradoxical balance of being both inspiring and relaxing. There’s nothing that fills you with more energy and appreciation for your journey than mapping out the life of your dreams. Take some time to gather magazine clippings, favorite quotes, and materials and objects that connect you with the future you want for yourself. It’s a simple practice, but one that puts you a step further along the path of transformative growth.

This post was originally published on October 5, 2020, and has since been updated.

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Comments (9)
  1. 1
    Kaelen | Darling Marcelle October 10, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    These are all such good tips! I am doing a month without drinking alcohol and it’s really made me realize how much I’ve been using it as a mood booster/ relaxation short-cut. Not drinking has made me realize that I need to come up with other, healthier ways to relax and improve my mood – these tips are a great starting point!

    xoKaelen | https://darlingmarcelle.com

    Reply
    • Catherine Sanderson October 16, 2019 at 3:01 pm

      I’m so happy these tips could be a good starting point for you! I hear you on the using alcohol as a relaxation short-cut, when I was having the same feelings last week I pulled out this list and it made a big difference! I hope the month goes well!

      Reply
  2. 2
    Miss Behavior Music October 10, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Yes to big belly laughs and good tunes! :)))

    Reply
  3. 3
    Camilla Thurman October 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Going outside is always a good mood booster for me!

    Reply
  4. 4
    Melanie October 16, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    I love all of these. Bookmarking for sure!

    Reply
  5. 5
    Kate October 18, 2019 at 6:59 am

    Cleaning out a drawer or cupboard works wonders as a mood booster. It gives such a nice feeling of accomplishment. I emptied out the cupboard above my ovens and am so pleased by how clean and organized it looks. Next…the linen closet!

    Reply