It’s not easy being upbeat when life’s little bumps—from looming work deadlines to a streak of cloudy days—can easily send your mood sinking and stress levels soaring. But what’s sweeter than that warm feeling you get from sipping a peppermint-spiced latte (or any of these mood-boosting sips) on a chilly morning? These 10 small, feel-good moves offer a major mood boost. Try one—or all—to feel happier and calmer in no time.
- Smile. It’s cheesy, but apparently, it’s true: The act of smiling really can turn a frown upside down.
- Jump around. Get happy-making endorphins pumping fast with some jumping jacks, jump rope, or random flailing around (hey, no judgment here).
- Sniff certain scents. Inhaling the scent of orange (or essential orange oil) or lavender can reduce anxiety and improve mood.
- Chew gum. The repetitive action of gnawing on gum can promote relaxation and reduce anxiety and stress.
- Ogle (or buy) some flowers. Studies find flowers provide an instant—and lasting—mood boost. Bonus: they can also make us more productive.
- Eat some chocolate. As if we needed a reason other than delicious: Eating chocolate can make us feel happy.
Pitching in for a regular cause in your community is ideal (such as serving food at your church’s soup kitchen), but you can make a difference in other ways in mere minutes. Become an organ donor or sign up for a charity walk. For the person on your holiday gift list who has everything, consider donating money to a good cause in their name. Check out for ideas: Just $20 buys a water filter to give Kenyan orphans clean drinking water, and $35 is enough to purchase 10 mosquito nets to help prevent malaria.
- Get present. Studies find the best way to stay cheerful is to stay centered in the present—even when it’s not all that pleasant. In contrast, a wandering mind and daydreaming can bring people down. The best way to re-center? Sit quietly for a few minutes and try some deep, calming breaths.