Have you been finding it harder and harder to be happy lately? If you have, know that you’re not alone.
A 2020 study from the University of Chicago found that more Americans than ever are unhappy. Only 14% of people polled reported feeling “very happy”, and 38% of people reported being flat-out depressed (1).
While statistics like these might be alarming, they shouldn’t come as a surprise when you stop and consider some of the present circumstances facing the world. From climate change and COVID-19 to regular old stress, times are tough.
However, even in the darkest of times, there are many simple things you can do to boost your mood. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
1. Plan out your days
It’s tempting to lie around and mope when you’re unhappy, but most of the time, doing so only exacerbates feelings of negativity. Planning out your days can help you take control of them, motivating you to get out of bed and tackle the obstacles holding you back.
If you have a lot on your plate, creating daily plans can also help you approach things systematically, ensuring that you end up scratching every task off your to-do list.
2. Head outside
While there’s nothing wrong with spending the occasional lazy day indoors, it’s essential to make time to get outside.
A lack of sunlight can lead to a drop in serotonin levels, which, in turn, can lead to feelings of depression (2). Whether you go for a walk, embark on a bike ride, or even just read a book on a spot of grass, outdoor time can help boost your mood.
Not everyone enjoys exercise, but most people feel satisfied and accomplished after working out. That’s because exercise increases endorphins, adrenaline, and dopamine—chemicals that can help you feel happy.
It doesn’t matter whether you hit the gym, swim a few laps in a pool, or just do a ten-minute workout at home—you’ll feel better once you get your blood flowing.
Many people may be social distancing again, but that doesn’t mean your social life needs to suffer.
FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype are great ways to connect with the people in your life virtually. In times of difficulty, leaning on those close to you is essential. Don’t be afraid to turn to a friend for mental support (or even request that the two of you have a wine night over a video call).
5. Tidy up your house
Not all successful people are neat freaks, but there is a correlation between messiness and stress. Numerous studies have found that excess clutter causes your body to produce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress (3).
Taking the time to clean your home can therefore be therapeutic in many different ways.
6. Dress for success
As we work from home and practice social distancing, we don’t always have an excuse to don our Sunday best. That said, dressing for success—even when success means just getting out of bed—can help boost your confidence.
When you look good, you feel good. You’ll find that tackling your tasks for the day will be much easier.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
You can be the most upbeat person in the world, but if you’re running on three hours of sleep, you’ll struggle to maintain that persona. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to feeling happy and motivated.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep and that your mind is relaxed before you turn out the light.
Visit your doctor when necessary
While the points mentioned in this article can help you boost your mood, remember that depression and unhappiness are different. If you feel that your mental health is struggling, don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
They can help you sort things out and get back to enjoying your life to the fullest.