Had enough of the winter blues? We have too. So we looked for ways to lift our spirits, at least until “spring forward.” What we found is that sometimes, the tiniest changes can have a huge impact on overall happiness. These twenty ideas will help you go from grumpy to giddy.
1. Make Your Bed Every Morning
I’ve heard this one before, and not just from my mother. For most people, outer order leads to inner calm. And making your bed is one quick, easy way to get some semblance of a tidy room (even when your closet is anything but.)
2. Shorten Your Commute
Okay, this one may not be a cinch. But if there’s any way you can shorten your commute, it’s certainly worth the effort. Spending two hours a day in gridlock traffic is enough to drive even the most Zen commuter up the wall. Not only is the drive itself infuriating, a long commute eats up time that could be spent on proven happiness boosters, like sleeping or interacting with other people.
3. Find a Rocking Chair
You know it works for babies. Now it seems that rockers bring similar comfort to elderly sufferers of dementia. Researchers at the University of Rochester encouraged twenty-five residents to rock as much as they like and they became less upset and anxious and required less pain medication. Who’s to say it couldn’t work for you?
4. Make Lists
Writing it down (whatever “it” may be. is a successful tool for managing stress. Just make sure your list doesn’t get out of control. After all, your list is supposed to help with your stress, not add to it. Remember that you can always adjust your priorities.
5. Paint Your Toenails … Even in the Winter
In the winter months, it’s easy to ignore your feet until they morph into a Shrek-like monstrosity. Who’s going to see them anyway, right? Wrong. You are! So give them a soak, a scrub, a bit of moisture, and a dash of color. You’ll feel better instantly.
6. Wake up the Right Way
Are you coffee lover? Wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee by investing in a percolator with a programmable timer. Tired of waking up to the shriek of a buzzer or the irritating voice of the talk radio host? Get yourself an alarm clock that wakes you up with natural light and sounds.
7. Talk About Something New
People tend to get stuck on the same old topics of conversation. Stimulate your mind and encourage others, too, by finding one little interesting tidbit a day and starting a conversation by saying, “Did you hear about _________? What do you think?”
8. Refuse to Give Advice
The easiest way to get sucked down the negative spiral is by participating. Do your friends a favor: when they start unloading their problems on you, let them figure it out on their own. The reverse is also true—don’t bore your friends with your problems. Focus on fun!
9. Rearrange Your Furniture
It may sound silly, but even the tiniest shift of a kitchen table or couch can make all the difference. It’ll make the room—and you!—feel new again. And the best part? It doesn’t cost a thing. (Tip: If you need to move a large item on your own, stick a dish towel under each leg and push; or if you’ve got carpet, use furniture sliders.)
10. Smile on the Outside
Even when you’ve got nothing to smile about. Forcing a smile can trick your body into changing your mood. You’ll also find that other people will react better to you when you’ve got a smile on your face. Voilà! You’ve just created a snowball effect of fuzzy feelings.
11. Gaze at a Photograph
If the photograph is of a loved one, it can stimulate blood supply to the brain, says researcher Andreas Bartels from University of London. Imagine them giving you a hug.
12. Get Informed
Stuck on a problem that just won’t go away? Try Googling it. Reading up on how other people have handled your situation may give you some clues on how to tackle it yourself.
13. Turn off the TV
Happy people don’t watch TV. Instead, they socialize, which brings them more long-term satisfaction. We’re not saying to skip your favorite shows altogether. But if the choice is between watching something just because it’s on, and grabbing a friend for a last minute dinner date … well … you know what to do. Delicious and good for you!
14. Eat Avocados
Avocados are good for your skin, your hair, and—more importantly—your heart. But did you know they’re also good for your mood? They’ve got monounsaturated fats and tryptophan, which boosts feel-good chemical endorphins in the brain.
15. Sing or Hum a Tune
Listening to music can make you feel good, but singing or humming your own tune is even better! Try making up the words to one of your favorite songs, and sing it out loud. Even if your cat is the only one who appreciates it, you’ll feel good about it.
16. Break the Rules
Here’s a little known confidence booster: when you follow your own path, (especially when you go against the grain. it’s incredibly intoxicating. We’re not advocating anything illegal, just saying that you should do exactly what you want sometimes and not what you think you should be doing.
17. Invigorate Your Senses
A quick spray of lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, or lemon can clear your head quicker than you think. For an extra-calming treat, take a nap on a pillow scented with lavender—either in fabric spray form, or crumble some of the plant itself and put it in your pillowcase.
18. Visit a Quiet Place
Libraries, museums, gardens, and other quiet places can give you a break from the frantic pace of everyday life. Find a secret spot and make it your sanctuary, whether it’s in your backyard or the Reference section.
19. Forgive Someone
Research shows that those who are able to forgive are less stressed, less angry, and more optimistic than those who aren’t. So, if you’re holding onto old grudges for the sake of it, it might just be time to let go.
20. Spend More Time with Your Happy Friends
Misery loves company. Too often, we find ourselves surrounded by soul-crushing negativity. The good news? Happiness really is contagious. Research shows that happiness, even when removed by three degrees, can make you happier than an extra $5000. Focus on spending time with the optimistic people in your life and you might just become one of them.
By Tania Khadder and Kayla Baxter for Excelle
Updated on Feb 13, 2011