We live in a world where we are led to believe that the only way to boost your mood is through some form of drug. The pharmaceutical industry is a billion dollar industry, and most of them are in both the politicians pockets and the doctors. It’s not uncommon to be watching TV and to see a commercial about some new drug that promises to boost your mood. The show images of happy people, bright sun-shiny days, and children laughing. They want you to associate your mood to their drug.
Then we have the other side of the mood boosting coin: spirituality. Religion. For the record, I am a spiritual person, so I’m not bashing religion. However, I feel like that religion is often touted in the same way drugs are touted: a way to escape your problems and boost your mood. Often the most addictive drugs are not drugs at all, they are mindsets. They are things we do on a daily basis. Every time you grab a cookie when you aren’t hungry and every time you drink a cup of coffee because you feel like it will keep you awake, you are reaching for something external to boost your mood.
And then there is the most subtle drug of them all: self help and personal development materials. When I went through divorce, I dove headfirst into the self help arena. I started reading every book I could get my hands on. Some were awesome (like Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! ), some were terrible, and others fell somewhere in between. Most became repetitive after a while. In time, however, I began to recognize that I was using personal development stuff more like a drug than an actual tool to help me change my life.
The point I am trying to make is that we all seek our own drug of choice to help boost our moods. But what if you could boost your mood in ways that aren’t going to leave you feeling hungover, judged, or like you are in an episode of Mr. Rogers? What if there were ways you could boost your mood that would allow you to feel the effects deep into your emotions and spirit? Are there fun ways to boost your mood that don’t make you feel like you’re living in hokey affirmation land?
When I started this website, I wanted to create something that would help people find true, deep joy inside of themselves. To do that correctly takes time (regardless of what the popular self help gurus say). It requires deep introspection. It requires you to face the pain that is buried inside of you like a splinter. It requires you to remove the splinter that keeps hurting you so that you can heal.
Imagine if you had a cut on your hand that was so deep that it required stitches. You wouldn’t go out the day you got cut (or any time in the weeks after) and play baseball or swing an ax or any activity that requires blunt force with your hands, would you? You understand that when you are physically hurt, you need time to heal. The same is true for your emotional well-being. There is no shortcut to healing your grief. Granted, you may be able to shorten the amount of time you spend grieving, but that’s only because you may not have learned the tools to help you process your grief. Often we grieve and feel emotional hurt for much longer than we need to. But, at the end of the day, we all need time to heal.
So, I’m not advocating a shortcut with this article. We will deal with the depths of how to heal our grief, mend our wounds, and find joy within us in other articles and products. However, there are many times in our journey that we need a pick-me-up. There are many times we feel down and we need something to snap us out of our funk and boost our moods to put us on the path back to emotional wellness. That’s what I want to talk about.
#1 The Most Well Known and Obvious Way to Boost your Mood: Physical Activity
Let’s get the most well known and obvious one out of the way first. I don’t normally like to retread things in personal growth that have been done a thousand times before, but sometimes hearing it a thousand times is what we need to get it through our thick skulls. The best and most effective way to boost your mood is to engage in physical activity.
The science behind it is pretty straightforward. Exercise and physical activity release chemicals in the brain that make you feel good. (Source 1, Source 2: The Exercise Effect, Source 3: Exercise eases depression symptoms). Oddly enough, however, psychologists and psychiatrists rarely prescribe exercise as a treatment for common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. I’m not sure why that is, but I’d wager it has something to do with money. Prescribing a pill makes someone money, prescribing exercise doesn’t.
The type of physical activity is irrelevant (in terms of boosting your mood), but some are more effective than others. There are several benefits to a long walk, but you’ll have to do it for longer if you want to improve your mood. Some of the happiest moments in my life came from long walks in the woods hiking trails, climbing mountains, etc. It’s a great way to get physical activity while also listening to music, podcasts, and audio-books.
My favorite way to boost my mood through physical activity quickly, however, is to simply get up and dance to one or two songs. It takes at most 5 or 6 minutes and, when you are done, you feel a lot better. A few times in my life I’ve even challenged myself to a “daily dance” month-long challenge. If you want to boost your mood, take that challenge. Get our of your seat right now and dance. Dance hard. Dance like you would dance if nobody was looking.
#2 The Second Most Obvious, but Equally Effective, Way to Boost Your Mood: Breathing
There are different types of breathing for different types of moods. The most common type is slow, deep breaths that you do in conjunction with meditation. If you suffer from anxiety, there are many benefits to slowing your breathing. Being more deliberate with your breathing helps you to refocus the mind, center yourself, and calm your nerves.
That, however, is not the type of breathing that I am talking about here. Remember, our goal with this article is to BOOST your mood, not calm you down. Granted, there is a positive boost to calming yourself and you will definitely feel better after a meditation session like that.
The best way to boost your mood through breathing is to actually breathe faster. Try taking quick sips of air and, as quickly as you take them in, breathe them out with force. Do this for 30 seconds and take a break. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed. It also helps to have a little mantra that you can’t chant as you do it. (You don’t have to actually say it out loud unless you want to.). Just a little something quick and positive that may not really have any deep meaning, but helps to anchor you to the pace of the breathing. I’ve recently started chanting “it’s good to be alive” in my head as I do these quick, short breaths. I know it’s silly, and it seems hokey as hell, but it works. Do it for a minute or two and you’ll feel pumped up in the same way you feel pumped up when you hear the music from Rocky.
Remember, the goal is to boost your mind to pull you out of a slump or funk, not to create lasting happiness. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is boost your mood like this because it’ll set you on an entirely different emotional path for the rest of your day than it would have if you just did nothing.
#3 A More Obscure Way to Boost Your Mood: Embrace the Weird and Laugh
Now that I’ve given you a couple of ways to boost your mood that you could find on any personal development website, let me give you one that you probably won’t find anywhere. The idea is simple: find a way to make yourself laugh. Now, obviously you could turn on a funny TV show or listen to a stand up comedian (both are things I do regularly to laugh), but sometimes you don’t have access to that.
So, I use a visualization technique you’ve never heard of. It’s called: think of the weirdest, stupidest thing you can possible think of. If you’re listening to a song, change the lyrics. Take a commonly used phrase and turn it on it’s end. My kids call me weird all the time because I do stupid things to make them laugh. I put eyes on an oven mitt and pretend like it’s a puppet. Every now and then I send them a picture of it just to be stupid.
Let’s get real here: life is LOOOOOONG. Yeah, I know that that’s not how that saying goes. But think about it. If you focus on the past, life is very short. You look back across those years and they all seem like a blink. But if you focus on the present moment, then life can be very long. It can be boring. It can be a boring, mundane drudge sometimes. Life is a lot of boring moments connected between some great moments. If you want to be consistently happy, then you need to find ways to spice up those boring moments. I’ll close this article with one of my favorite speeches ever (and my favorite YouTube video):
So if you want to BOOST YOUR MOOD INSTANTLY, just keep reminding yourself: this is water, this is water.