Everyone needs a pick-me-up sometimes.
And as it turns out, there are a bunch of healthy things you can do to lift your spirits.
We’ve scoured the research to find some of the best ways to improve your mood — no pill or special elixir required.
Here are a few:
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Get out in nature.
If you’re feeling down, it might be because you’re not spending enough time in nature. Living in cities has been linked to stress and mental illness, but a dose of greenery could go a long way.
In one 2012 study published in the Journal Psychological Science, researchers gave more than 10,000 people questionnaires about their mental health over nearly two decades, and found that people who lived in urban areas with the most green space (such as parks) reported feeling the least mental distress and the highest well-being.
But you don’t need to live near a park to get all its benefits — preliminary research suggests that even a 90-minute walk in nature can chase away negative thoughts.
Listen to happy music.
Often all it takes is some upbeat tunes to shrug away those sad feelings.
A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to positive music while attempting to improve their mood reported feeling happier than people who listened to music that wasn’t positive, or didn’t actively try to boost their mood. So crank up the Pharrell Williams!
Do something awe-inspiring!
If you want to stop feeling awful and start feeling awesome, consider this: Several recent studies have found that experiencing a sense of awe — the feeling you get looking up into the night sky, for example — can leave you feeling less stressed and more satisfied.
As part of a two-part study published in 2015, students filled out a questionnaire and submitted samples of their spit for analysis. The students who said they had recently had awe-inspiring experiences had lower levels of a stress-related substance called interleukin-6 in their spit, compared with those who didn’t feel awe.
So next time you’re feeling blue, why not take a scenic hike or watch the sunrise?