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Write a list

Write a list
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Therapeutic list making can happen in many forms such as a to-do list, a list of people to reconnect with, or imaginative list like a ‘desert island’ list. For the past six years or so, that’s just what professional poet, Thomas Fucaloro, has done. “(Making lists) help get my wires uncrossed,” Fucaloro says. “I think in fragments and I think creating lists help put those fragments together and calms me down. It definitely helps my mood and allows me to create art.”

These natural wonders of the world should go on to your bucket list.

Do an act of kindness

Do an act of kindness
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Candace Payne went viral for her infectious laughter when she put on a Chewbacca mask and the Internet hailed her ‘Chewbacca Mum’ after falling in love with her joy. In an email, she told Reader’s Digest, “One of my favourite simple joys is to ‘create’ for others. I think about making something fun/pretty/useful to give away and I get to it. It might be crocheting a hat for a friend, lettering my favourite fun quote in sparkly markers, putting together a grocery bag of goodies and a taco recipe to drop on the doorstep of a neighbour, or causing an unexpected Nerf battle with the hubs after the kids fall asleep. When I do for others, I feel my mood instantly changes. My focus shifts from my problems and helps me find a way to brighten someone else’s day.”

Here are 14 simple acts of kindness you can do in 2 minutes or less.

Try acupuncture

Try acupuncture
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After yoga teacher, Jessica Galletta, read about acupuncture as an alternative to an antidepressant, she gave it a try and found that regular sessions, over time, improved her mood. “I’ve noticed that I always leave with my mood feeling more balanced. I feel calm and more in control of my thoughts. My mind is less clouded.”

Don’t miss these everyday habits that could up your risk for depression.

Make an empowering playlist

Make an empowering playlist
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Music is scientifically proven to improve focus and lower anxiety among many other health benefits. Molly Gallagher, an actor, writer, and teaching artist, created a Spotify playlist called Go Molly Go to power her through her unpredictable life as a freelance artist. Her playlist includes favourites like “Girl is on Fire” by Alicia Keys and “Rise Up” by Andra Day. “I do a lot of writing at my desk in my apartment – submitting for jobs, writing scripts, grant applications, lesson plans – the constant hustle can feel mundane especially if you aren’t seeing the results you want to manifest,” Gallagher says. “I think the playlist reminds me to enjoy the process on a daily basis.”

Read on for 21 hidden health benefits music lovers wish you knew.

Surprise someone in need

Surprise someone in need
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Molly Butts, a health and physical education teacher, often gets her family or a group of students together to make ‘blessing bags,’ (bags filled with essentials such as tissues, hand warmers, gloves, muesli bars, etc) for people in need. “One time we gave a bag to a man and his eyes got so big. As we were walking away he opened the bag, took out the toothbrush, started doing a happy dance and kissed the toothbrush,” she shares. “This was incredibly uplifting because we were able to make someone’s life a little bit easier (and bring him joy), with just a toothbrush.”

Wear fuzzy socks

Wear fuzzy socks
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Social worker, Joy Johnson, has a simple way to feel toasty: wear fuzzy socks. Bonus points if you have fuzzy and funky. “It’s a fun, silly thing that can be your secret for the day, a fun conversation starter when someone sees the socks, or an extra way of showing yourself care when you’re at home. No extra planning or money needed.”

Check out these absolutely brilliant uses for old socks.

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Take a photo

Take a photo
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Amanda Stemen, a social worker, explains that activities that lead to surges in happiness often have to do with mindfulness. To that end, she knows a photographer who reported feeling happier after spending time taking pictures. “When you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re more easily in the present moment,” she explains. “In the present moment, there is peace and ease when you aren’t worrying about the past or future.”

Find out the 7 things creative geniuses have in common.

Crack a smile…

Crack a smile…
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…even if you really don’t feel like it. Simply pulling the sides of your mouth into a grin impacts your mood quickly, in a couple different ways, Dr David Ludden. “The first way is what’s called facial feedback. As your brain detects that your ‘grin’ muscles are engaged, it seems to think to itself: ‘I’m smiling so I must be happy.’ The second way is through social feedback. Emotions are contagious, and as your colleagues respond positively to your ‘faked’ cheerful mood, you starting feeling better as well.”

Want to be happy? Here are some secrets to a happier life.

Grab a bouquet of flowers

Grab a bouquet of flowers
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There’s a good reason we send flowers when someone is in the hospital or to show people we care on their birthdays: the blooms really do make people happy! A 2018 study by researchers at the University of North Florida found that women reported less stress and more happiness after having fresh flowers in their houses for several days. An older, smaller study, done by Harvard evolutionary psychologist and TED-talker Dr Nancy Etcoff, had similar results. People who were given a bouquet of flowers and kept them on display for a few days felt more relaxed and experienced less anxiety and depression. Most large grocery stores sell fresh flowers these days, often for as little as $10 – so next time you’re feeling blah, why not pick up a bouquet?

Enjoy our life-affirming podcast, What I learnt at the flower shop.

Step outside

Step outside
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You don’t have to spend an hour forest bathing to get the happiness-boosting benefits of Mother Nature. Just five minutes of ‘green exercise’ – moving your body outdoors in the presence of trees or other natural scenery – can improve mood and self-esteem, according to a 2010 review of research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The positive effects were even greater when water was around; no wonder a lakeside stroll is so refreshing!

Check out these natural landscapes that even scientists can’t explain.

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