Who needs a vacation to feel happier? Simple things (like hugging your pup) can brighten your day. Here’s our list of things to do to boost your mood now!
Play with a furry friend
Petting a dog for just 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol, a University of Missouri–Columbia study says. You’re more of a cat person? No worries: Other research has found that playing with your kitty gives a similar mood and health boost.
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Make yourself smile
Fake it and you’ll feel sunnier. In a Clark University study, one group of participants was told to smile and another group was told to frown. Afterward, both groups were shown cartoons—and the smilers rated the shows funnier than the frowners did. The simple act of smiling seems to activate happiness centers in the brain, reports lead researcher James Laird, PhD.
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Eat for ecstasy
Add these “joy” foods to your diet: fish, for omega-3s—a University of Pittsburgh study found that people with low levels of this healthy fat were more likely to be depressed; Brazil nuts, for selenium—being low on this antioxidant can get you down; and orange juice, for folate—too little causes a dip in happiness-helper serotonin.
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Human touch releases uplifting endorphins like serotonin, and reduces blood pressure and heart rate, making you more relaxed and content, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study says.
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Unleash your inner Picasso and reverse your negative outlook. Participants in a Boston College study became happier when they distracted themselves by creating artwork that expressed their negative feelings. Writing in a journal has been shown to have a similar effect.