30 Easy Ways to Improve Your Mood

If you find yourself stuck in an emotional rut, here are 30 easy ways to help improve your mood. They can also be used to uplift your mood whenever you’re not in a rut. In fact, incorporating the things that make you feel good into your daily routine is a life-changing strategy for success and happiness. The secret is that successful people plan for happiness. That’s not to say that successful people don’t have low points in their emotional cycles (because we all do), it’s to say that successful people know they are going to have days slumps and plan accordingly. Part of what makes these people so successful is how well they know themselves. They have found what makes them happy and pursue it relentlessly. If you’re ready to tackle your down days and become successful, here are 30 ways to improve your mood.

  1. Listen to Music

    Music is one of the quickest ways to change your mood. Seriously. Have you ever noticed that a certain song with a particular beat can come on and make you forget about everything but the song? Music has a plethora of neurobiological benefits including dopamine release, relaxation of neural pathways, and lowered cortisol levels. Try it. I’ve created an entire playlist of such songs and it never fails to make me feel good. If music with lyrics isn’t your thing, you can always listen to soundtracks from your films or television shows. You’d be surprised at how well the music from a good film score, especially from a fight or a victory scene, can uplift your mood and make you feel more determined. Instrumental tracks are some of my favourite musical categories, especially orchestral rock. If you’re looking for something a little more esoteric in nature, I have always found mantras (both singing and chanting) to be incredibly transformative and powerfully calming. Solfeggio frequencies and harmonics are also an option.

  2. Dance It Out


    Once you’ve got that beat going, shake your stress out. Seriously. Dancing is an excellent way of raising endorphins. It’s physical exercise, so it’s good for your lymphatic and cardiovascular systems and will boost your mood like any form of exercise will. Combining the feel good power of music with the mood-boosting powers of exercise is a win-win scenario. Plus, dancing just makes you feel good. It’s hard to be in a bad mood while dancing.

  3. Sing Your Heart Out


    If you’ve chosen some tracks with lyrics, try singing them. Put on your favourite song that you know all the lyrics to and belt it out. Singing along with others is an excellent way of boosting oxytocin levels in your brain and making you feel better. Singing has also been used in therapy for stroke patients or those who are nonverbal for other reasons. More and more research shows that it uses our language and music centres simultaneously, which can help to repair brain damage.

  4. Make Music


    As powerful as the brain-boosting impact of music is, creating music is even more powerful. Studies comparing musicians’ brains to normal brains show that they are noticeably different and healthier overall. Even if you aren’t a musician, taking music lessons or teaching yourself an instrument has a profound impact on your neuroplasticity and neurological health.

  5. Inspirational Quotes


    Looking at inspirational quotes is another easy way to improve your mood. Whether your taste is generally uplifting, specific to your spiritual path, or rooted in fandom, there are quotes (and Pinterest Boards full of quotes) to uplift you. You can even find them in YouTube videos, such as this one that I made specifically to uplift people.

  6. Read Something That Inspires You

    Reading anything that inspires you is another easy way to improve your mood. Anything that can take you out of the self-repeating cycle you’re in and remind you that there is still goodness and kindness in the world is of benefit to you. There are entire websites like Thought Catalog and Upworthy that are dedicated towards this purpose.

  7. Watch Inspirational Videos


    If you are a visual person (as many of us are), inspirational videos can be a quick and easy way to improve your mood. There are plenty of videos circulating the internet that have inspirational messages at their core. Watch one. Watch several. Keep watching them until you find yourself crying in awe at the beauty of love. Rinse, repeat.

  8. Connect with Something Spiritual

    Whatever your path is, connecting with something you find to be spiritual is an easy way to uplift your mood. (If your spirituality doesn’t uplift you, it’s not serving your highest good). If you’re not a spiritual person, look for things that make you feel connected with the universe. Listen to some Neil DeGrasse Tyson or watch some episodes of the Cosmos. Marvel at the size and scale of the universe. Wherever you feel connected to something bigger than yourself, go there. Focus on that.

  9. Appreciate Beauty

    Appreciating beauty is another easy way of improving your mood. There’s an ever-growing body of research that shows the profound impact positive visuals, including colours, have on our brain and moods. Look for things you find beautiful. Appreciate the beauty of whatever you’ve chosen for at least fifteen seconds. Try for a full minute and see how much your mood has improved.

  10. Go Outside

    Spending time in nature is essential to your mental and emotional health. For the majority of human history, our lives involved daily contact with nature. It makes sense that our bodies would have evolved to receive the most benefit from our natural environment. Our body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D from sunlight is one example of this principle in action. Various studies have shown that populations who still live in contact with nature tend to live longer and be happier. There are many ways to include more outdoor time in your world. The one that is of most benefit to your mental health is gardening. Microbes found in the soil stimulate our brains to produce neurochemicals that increase happiness. Another way to enjoy the outdoors is through photography. Because it combines the appreciation of beauty with all of the benefits of nature, photography is a wonderful way to improve your mood. If you’re a night owl, or just love the stars, astrophotography is an excellent way to improve your mood as well. It’s hard to be in a funk when confronted with the powerful beauty of nature. If you’re seriously geeky, find a LARP that plays outside. Playing pretend does wonderful things for your neuroplasticity and combining it with the benefit of the outdoors is a win-win situation.

  11. Spend Time with Animals

    If you’re unable to go outside (or it’s just a miserable day out there), connecting with nature indoors is possible too. Animals are a time-honoured method of improving your mood. Studies have shown that petting animals releases a variety of feel-good brain chemicals including prolactin, serotonin, and oxytocin. It also lowers cortisol and blood pressure. Animals are so successful at helping people handle mental and emotional stress that many service animals are provided to those with mental and emotional challenges to help them function in day to day life. If owning an animal doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, looking at pictures of animals is another easy way to improve your mood. Baby animals, in particular, tend to elicit the “aww” response and make us feel better. It may sound strange, but the next time you find yourself feeling in a funk, try looking at pictures or videos of baby animals. See if you don’t notice a difference.

  12. Look at Flowers

    Another fix for being unable to go outside is to spend time with plants, especially flowers. There’s a reason why it’s customary to bring flowers to sick people, or even to funerals. Various studies have found scientific evidence to support the idea that flowers actually boost moods and make us feel better. If having real flowers doesn’t work for you, try looking at photos of ones you find to be beautiful.

  13. Get in the Water

    Water is another easy way to improve your mood. Ever notice how even a few hours at the beach can make you feel amazing? Even if going to the beach isn’t an option, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the water. Taking a shower can calm you down and help reset your nervous system. Visualise your bad mood as something gross coating the outside of your body and see the water wash it away bit by bit until you feel clean and renewed. Taking a bath is another great way to boost your mood. Try taking a bath with some calming essential oils such as lavender or chamomile, or try adding baking soda and Epsom salts to your bath water for added relaxation. Another great way to boost your mood with water is to go swimming. Swimming is also an excellent form of exercise for almost any and every body type and it can have huge mood-boosting benefits.

  14. Spend Time with Loved Ones

    Another easy way to improve your mood is to spend time with your loved ones. Studies have shown that a healthy human being really needs at least eight 20 second hugs a day for optimum levels of oxytocin. If you’re not a hugger or cuddling person, try doing another together activity with your loved ones such as singing together, playing games together, or even watching a favourite film. No matter what you are doing, simply spending time with your loved ones helps build healthy relationships and boost neurotransmitters and other important healthy brain chemicals.

  15. Be Part of a Community

    Reaching out for human contact is another easy way to improve your mood. Most of human history was characterised by humanity living in large family groupings where they shared eating and even sleeping space with one another. Modernity is an oddity in that post-modern humans are cut off from each other, which often results in emotional and psychological stress. Studies with rat populations have shown that drug addiction disappears when addicted rats are given the opportunity to rejoin a community. Even if your family and friends aren’t available, or you don’t have anyone you can rely on, there are support communities around the globe who can provide you with the human contact you need. There are even support groups and communities online where you can find like-minded individuals who can provide moral support to you in times of need.

  16. Read a Good Book

    Sometimes a little escapism is helpful. Reading a book about a character who successfully navigates life challenges similar to yours can be inspiring and encouraging. Finding a connection, even with fictional characters, can help when you feel lost and misunderstood. Plus, books can be a really excellent way to bond with others. Harry Potter is an excellent example of a positive and uplifting book series that encourages readers to overcome challenges while building a huge international community.

  17. Make Art

    Multiple studies have shown the efficacy of art in mental wellness. Art has been so successful at helping people work through psychological challenges, that art therapy is a specialization within the psychology field. Art can be used to examine painful memories, work through challenging situations, and boost your mood. Creating art activates the pleasure centers of the brain and causes the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Art can also aid in self-awareness and communication of complicated concepts.

  18. Write it Down

    Writing can be a wonderful way to improve your mood. For those of us who have spent a lifetime being disconnected from our feelings or even disassociating from them, writing them down can be a powerful way to connect with your feelings and express them in a safe space. Poetry, in particular, is wonderful for this because there are so few rules involved in writing it. It is a medium well suited to emotional expression. Expressing your feelings through speculative fiction is another good option. Sometimes turning your story into a work of fiction helps you to see it in a new light. Plus, sometimes you wind up with something really powerful that you can share with others that might help them as well.

  19. Write in Your Journal

    Writing down your feelings in a non-threatening, non-judgemental place can be the first step to releasing them. You can write letters to people expressing yourself honestly without fear. Sometimes just the simple act of expressing your feelings can help you move through them into another headspace. If you’ve been journaling for awhile (and make an effort to keep positive things in your journal as well), rereading your journal can be a source of comfort and accomplishment.

  20. Focus on the Positives

    Shifting your focus to the positive can be a very effective way of boosting your mood. On a blank sheet of paper, begin listing all of the positive aspects you can think of about a situation, no matter how trivial they may seem. By deliberately placing your focus on the positive aspects of a situation, you can break out of a cycle of negativity. Plus, by doing this exercise regularly, you will become a more positive person naturally. Once this becomes a habit for you, you will find that even in times of stress, your brain looks for the silver lining.

  21. Make a Gratitude List

    Similar to a positive focus list, a gratitude list is another easy yet effective way to improve your mood. Research suggests that those who deliberately cultivate an attitude of gratitude are the happiest. Gratitude increases the formation of positive memories and the amount of pleasure we receive from those memories. Experiencing gratitude encourages feelings of connectedness. When we take time to focus on how much a loved one does for us, it makes us appreciate them more. Greater appreciation leads to healthier relationships. Gratitude can also help dissolve negative feelings such as anger, fear, or resentment.

  22. Go on a Happy Rant

    Have you ever been so excited that you couldn’t help but ramble on about something? Remember how that felt? Talking yourself into that place is one of the ways to feel better. Think about something you love or are passionate about. Start listing all of the reasons why you love it. Say them out loud, deliberately beginning each sentence with, “I love…”, “I am grateful that…”, “I am so excited that…”, “It makes me so happy when…”, etc. Work yourself up into a fever pitch of feeling good and watch those blues fade away.

  23. Show Some Self Love

    When you are experiencing a slump, showing self-love is an easy way to improve your mood. Desiring comfort is a natural reaction to stress. Children instinctively reach for their mothers for comfort. But what is an adult to do? Practice comforting yourself. Put on your favourite song. Eat your favourite food. Wear your favourite outfit. Go out to eat. Get a massage. Buy yourself that book you’ve been wanting. Take a bubble bath. Drink some tea or hot chocolate. Pamper yourself. Do whatever makes you feel good.

  24. Eat Some Comfort Food

    One of the easiest ways to pamper yourself is to eat comfort food. Have your favourite meal. Indulge in a snack. Have some cake or ice cream. Order pizza. Have take-out for dinner. Treat yourself to whatever will make you feel the best right now. Make a habit of telling yourself you deserve it.

  25. Indulge in Your Fandom

    Photograph by Angela Pritchett

    Another easy way to pamper yourself to improve your mood is to indulge your fandom. Does binge-watching every episode of Star Trek or Doctor Who make you feel better? Do it. Does The Flash make you feel better? Watch it. Are you a musical buff? Pop in those musicals, grab your snacks, and remember to sing along! If you’re a cosplayer and there’s a particular costume that makes you feel awesome, put it on! You’d be surprised at the amount of happy brain hormones that dressing like a superhero releases.

  26. Play a Video Game

    You can also play a video game to improve your mood. We enjoy video games because they activate the pleasure centers of our brain and release neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Some video games have been found to be so successful at taking people out of their heads that they have been used in clinical settings to treat patients with PTSD. One study found that gamers were more likely to handle stressful situations better than their non-gaming counterparts. Other studies have shown that playing violent video games can help people manage difficult emotions such as anger or stress. Yet other studies have shown that people who play video games after work were quicker and more likely to de-stress than those who did not.

  27. Exercise

    Exercise is another easy way of improving your mood. It can relieve stress, depression and anxiety, improve memory, help you sleep better, and just improve your mood in general. Studies have shown that exercise is just as beneficial as medication in treating mild to moderate depression. Focusing on your body and cultivating mindfulness while exercising can help reset the nervous system for those coping with PTSD or other traumatic events. Exercise releases powerful endorphins that have both immediate and long-term benefits.

  28. Breathe Deeply

    Focusing on your breathing is another easy yet effective way to improve your mood. Taking six deep breaths through your diaphragm can switch your brain over from using your sympathetic nervous system to your parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, breathing deeply and focusing on your breath resets your body’s flight or fight response and cues it to enter rest mode. Studies have shown that deliberately manipulating the breath can cause significant changes in emotions. Make a habit of breathing deeply several times a day.

  29. Practice Yoga

    Practising yoga is another way to improve your mood. Yoga is a powerful mood booster because it combines the positive effects of deep breathing, meditation, and exercise in one discipline. Yoga can increase body awareness, relieve stress, reduce muscle tension and stress, increase self-esteem, and many other positive benefits. Yoga has also been shown to increase the neurotransmitter GABA, which regulates communication between brain cells and activity in the central nervous system.

  30. Meditate

    Meditation has been found to be beneficial in so many areas of health that many doctors encourage patients to practice it to help with pain relief, anxiety, depression, stress, and other medical challenges. Meditation actually alters the structure of your brain and engages your neuroplasticity to work on your behalf. There are a wide variety of methodologies and techniques, from simple mindfulness practice to smartphone apps with guided meditations. Experiment with any and all of them and find what works best for you.

What about you? Do you have any tried and true methods that help to improve your mood when you’re feeling low? Do you have a feel better practice that isn’t listed here? If so, leave a comment below!

Committed to improving your life? Start from the beginning, with Part One. Or continue reading with Part 3: How to Create an Effective Plan to Improve Even Your Worst Days.

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