1. Better yet, hug a friend
If you have a good friend in hugging distance, have at it. The physical connection releases oxytocin, a hormone that is produced by the hypothalamus and gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling. Bonus: It makes you feel less stressed and can have long-term health benefits.
2. Do a silly dance
Move your way into a better mood. Acting out happy movements—like skipping, hopping, jumping or just throwing your hands up in the air—can make you feel happier. (It’s like the smiling thing, but with wiggling.) There’s also lots of research into the positive mood effects of moderate exercise: They are near-immediate and can last for minutes or hours.
3. Tune into an uplifting playlist
Music can have a powerful effect on mood. Try making a playlist of songs that always make you want to tap your toes or sing along, and turn it on whenever you need a hit of happy. Or head over to Moodfuse.com where you can select the mood you want (e.g. happy, cheerful, whimsical) and a genre you like to enjoy the sounds of a custom feel-good broadcast.
4. Walk to the window and look into the light
Work inside all day? Exposure to natural light during the day (especially in the morning) is crucial for keeping your body rhythms in sync and regulating sleep, metabolism and mood. Windows in the workplace have been associated with improved well-being. If you don’t have an office with a window, barge into someone else’s. Bonus: It’ll get you away from that frustrating/annoying/upsetting email you’ve been stewing over.
5. Better yet, take a walk outside
And better still, head toward the nearest park, however small. Yeah, you’ll need to set aside more than 30 seconds for this one, but research says just five minutes meandering in green spaces is a great pick-me-up.
6. Sip a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea
Caffeine has been shown time and again to have positive effects on mood. Just a cup’ll do ya. (Though java newbies beware: Caffeine can also make you feel nervous if you’re sensitive to it.)
7. Talk to a stranger
Research shows that simple social engagement—smiling, making eye contact, brief conversation—makes you feel immediately more chipper. So go ahead and chitchat with your barista when you order your morning latte.
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Just smiling makes you feel happy. The old standby really does work.
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