You slept through your alarm. You’re PMSing big time. Unfortunately, crawling back under the covers isn’t a viable bad-mood solution. But there are a number of minimal-effort fixes to help you face the day with a smile (a false one counts, too). Use these strategies to rewire a lousy mood—or even amp up a good one.
Go for a run
Post-jog euphoria extends beyond the release of endorphins; recent animal research suggests that running leads to a rush of endocannabinoids, chemicals in the brain linked to pleasure. You could feel perked up within five minutes of finishing a run. Research also shows that running may help alleviate symptoms of depression.
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Crack a grin
Even if it’s totally fake. Research out of Clark University in Worcester, Mass., revealed that smiling appears to activate the happiness centers of the brain. A different study found that smiling during a tense moment may help reduce your body’s stress response, whether or not you actually feel happy.
Take a bath or shower
It’s an old natural health remedy known as hydrotherapy. A review published last year in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences suggests that 10 minutes of whirlpool bathing increases feelings of well-being and decreases anxiety, while cold showers may have an antidepressive effect.
The sweet snack contains the compound phenylethylamine, as well as caffeine, both of which are stimulants with mood-enhancing abilities. Cocoa also boosts levels of serotonin—nicknamed the “happy hormone”—in the brain. Stick to a square (or two) of dark chocolate; it typically packs more antioxidants and less sugar than milk chocolate.
Hug or high-five a pal
Touching releases oxytocin (the love hormone) and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make you feel more at ease.