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10 Free Ways to Improve Your Mood

by Kay Lynn

Now that the holidays are over it was probably a rude awakening back into daily routines. Only it is still winter with the cold and shorter daylight hours which can put a damper on your mood.

If you need a little something to brighten your day, here are ten ideas that are mostly free or pretty inexpensive (as opposed to a trip to a warm beach!).

1. Flowers. A bouquet on our dining room table is what inspired this article. Walking in and seeing the beautiful blooms made me smile. I don’t have a green thumb so do buy these, but you could grow them yourself.

2. Take a Walk. Exercise is know to improve mood by releasing endorphins. I always attribute it to the fresh air, but it’s biology working in our favor.

3. Fire. If you’re going to be in the house due to bad weather, make it cozy with a fire.  This advice is only for those that have a fireplace or wood stove.  In good weather, use an outdoor firepit or ring.

4. Picnics. Picnics are fun because you eat on the ground and outdoors.  So pack that basket and head outdoors, if it’s nice enough, for a meal.  If not, have an indoors picnic.  Kids will especially think this is fun.

5. Scented Candles.  Smells can have a powerful effect or casinos wouldn’t be spending so much money figuring out which scent to pump into them.  Maybe a outdoors scent such as ocean or forest would bring the essence of those places indoors.

6. Bright Colors. Here’s another thing that marketers spend tons of money researching.  Bright colors tend to be happy so wear that bright sweater your got for Christmas or decorate with brightly colored throw pillows and other accessories.

7. Music. There are songs that I can’t resist moving to and it always makes me feel happy.  Play these types of songs and just dance around the house.

8. Laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine and there’s a lot of credence to it.  Watch one of of your favorite comedies, do something silly, or play with your kids.

9. Visualization. Spend 5-10 minutes daily imagining yourself happy.  The subconscious mind works to make it happen.  I need to try this technique with some of my goals.

10. Socialize. People are not meant to be solitary and socializing increases life span. Why?  Because happy people live longer in general.  So visit friends or family.  It doesn’t have to be expensive as you can have a game night or a potluck.  The important thing is spending time together.

These ideas won’t help with depression, but can help with the occasional bad mood.  What do you do to improve your mood?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharlyn Lauby January 7, 2011 at 6:19 am

Two things that always help me are (1) games – like Angry Birds or Bejeweled, whatever…it’s a fun little distraction. And (2) on a cold day, a nice cup of hot cocoa – with lots of marshmallows of course!

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DoNotWait January 7, 2011 at 7:32 am

The ones you pointed out are all on my list as well. My favorites are take a walk, music, laugh and socialize. I’d say playing with kids also helps. Most kids are always in a good mood when they play and you have no choice but to be as enthusiast as them.

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Kay Lynn January 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm

@Sharlyn, those are great ideas. Having a treat can be something to look forward to. I haven’t played those games but know they can help by concentrating on something different.

@ Do Not Wait, playing with kids is always fun!

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krantcents January 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

These are all good ideas. I (as a couple) would add changing things up, bring a dinner in , light the fireplace and even light candles can create a romantic or uplifting mood.

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Andrea January 7, 2011 at 9:00 am

Great topic!

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lovely leverage January 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

I want to add two more things:
- Exercise / Physical Activity: if you are mentally exhausted this works great
- Meditation: if you don’t know how, just take a nap

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Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter January 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I have always enjoyed going for a walk when I need to sort out my thoughts or am feeling stressed. I also find a getting into a good book works well…gets your mind distracted.

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Jenna January 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I totally agree with the walking one. When ever I’m feeling gloomy getting outside and moving always makes me feel better. My other option, for rainy days, is escaping into a book for about a half hour. That usually does the trick.

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iamtheworkingpoor January 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm

LOL loved the disclaimer on #3. Only set a fire if you have a fireplace or woodstove.

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Sustainable PF January 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Stand in the sun! Seriously, when the sun is out go soak up some rays. This time of year (in Canada) you won’t burn by having those warm beams strike your face.
For people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (like me) the sun can really REALLY help you get out of your funk.

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Kay Lynn January 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm

@Krant Cents, that’s a good idea as well. Get out of the routine, right?

@ Andrea, thanks!

@ Lovely Leverage, meditation is a great idea. I would probably fall asleep though.

@ Miss T, reading a good fiction book is like being transported somewhere else.

@ Jenna, another vote for exercise and books. Thanks for the ideas.

@ Working Poor, I was worried that people would set things or buildings on fire. :)

@ Sustainable PF, I can’t believe I forgot the sun! I guess it’s kind of a given down here. We’re complaining because the high was only 58 today.

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youngandthrifty January 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

These are great, Kay Lynn!

I love flowers- they are an instant pick me up, though expensive to have fresh flowers in your home all the time.

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Kay Lynn January 9, 2011 at 6:59 am

Young and Thrifty, I can pick up flowers at Trader Joe’s for under five bucks although that’s a pretty small bunch. They’re also a good buy at the Farmer’s market here.

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Barb Friedberg January 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Kay Lynn, I was expecting not to learn anything new (was I too pessimistic?). I WAS WRONG. There are some great ideas here. I’m going to get some flowers tomorrow.I love to wear bright colors. And I need to pick up another candle, as I love the smell. Thanks for the tips!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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