What do you do if you’re feeling blue because of the financial crisis? Or if you’re just having an extremely lousy day? Here are nine strategies that can boost your mood right now in a happiness emergency. In the next thirty minutes, check off as many of the following items as possible. Each one will lift your spririts, as will the mere fact that you’ve tackled and achieved some concrete goals; by doing so, you boost your feelings of self-efficacy, which can boost happiness.
1. Boost your energy: stand up and pace while you talk on the phone or, even better, take a brisk ten-minute walk outside. Research shows that when people move faster, their metabolism speeds up, and the activity and sunlight are good for your focus, your mood, and the retention of information. Plus, because of emotional contagion, if you act energetic, you’ll help the people around you feel energetic, too.
2. Reach out to friends: make a lunch date or send an email to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Having warm, close bonds with other people is the KEY to happiness, so take the time to stay in touch. Somewhat surprisingly, socializing boosts the moods not only of extroverts, but also of introverts.
3. Rid yourself of a nagging task: answer a difficult email, do an errand you’ve been putting off, or call to make that dentist’s appointment. Crossing an irksome chore off your to-do list will give you a big rush of energy and relief.
4. Create a calmer environment: clear some physical and mental space around yourself by sorting papers, pitching junk, cleaning a closet, stowing supplies, sending out quick email responses, filing, or even just making your piles neater. A large stack of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but often just a few minutes of work can make a sizable dent. Try to get in the habit of using the one-minute rule — i.e., never postpone any task that can be completed in less than one minute. And always make your bed in the morning! For most people, outer order contributes to inner peace.