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5 Simple Ways to Start Feeling Better

2. Be extra-friendly to a stranger.

Eastman Childs/Unsplash
Source: Eastman Childs/Unsplash

We all sometimes need a mood boost. But, when you're in a funk, executing that can feel too hard. For example, you might know yoga makes you feel better but you're too flat or exhausted to schlep to a class.

For those times, it can help to have a repertoire of very simple options for how you can feel better. Try these.

1. Be extra patient with someone who is struggling or doing their job poorly.

Acts of kindness are well known as effective mood boosters. Being extra kind and patient with someone who is struggling (and getting in your way), or not doing great at their job are examples of this that you might not have considered.

Why it works: It can seem like the modern world only tolerates high performance at all times. These acts of kindness can help you feel like the world is not such a brutal place, even when it's you offering the kindness and patience.

Do unto others. No doubt there will be a time when you're sucking at something, struggling to understand instructions, going slower than others, etc.

2. Be extra warm and friendly with a stranger.

On a similar theme, you can boost your mood by being extra warm and friendly with a stranger.

Example: This morning, I overheard another customer at the post office complimenting the worker for being so helpful to her. I chimed in and said, "Yes, the people at this branch are super nice."

It was obvious our comments were appreciated.

3. Ask yourself, "What can I control about this?"

People often feel highly anxious when they're in a situation that's uncertain or complicated. You may not be able to control every element of the situation, but there are probably a few practical things you can do. While you might not be able to guarantee a good outcome or smooth sailing, you can take actions that increase the probability of that.

  • Even the smallest behavior to exert some control over a difficult situation can be a quick way to feel better. It may even help you feel more accepting of the uncertain elements.
  • Example: You have a medical bill and you call to negotiate a payment plan.
  • Even easier example: You organize your medications into a dispensing box with compartments for each day of the week, to make taking them simpler.

4. Skip a task or a step in a task.

Sometimes we put extra pressure on ourselves to always be diligent. If there are tasks that need doing, we expect ourselves to do them all.

However, you don't. You've got agency.

  • Example: You bought a cheap pair of shorts, but the sizing doesn't work for you. It's almost the end of your return window and you keep trying to get back to the store. You can choose not to do the return, and relieve yourself of the deadline. You can always put them in a clothing donation bin at some later point.
  • If you usually do something in a fussy way, you can skip a step in that task to do it in a less fussy way.
  • Or just do a simpler version of a task, like making an apple crumble rather than an apple pie.

This action can help you recognize you're not just stuck on the treadmill of life and unable to get off or change speed. You actually can opt out more than you think.

5. Tell someone what you value about your relationship

We don't always see our own strengths. You might value a friend, family member, coworker, or client for some specific qualities that person has. For example, perhaps a friend excels at being always accepting and non-judgmental. Perhaps you've got a colleague who helps you navigate awkward situations, but they never make you feel awkward for asking awkward questions.

Tell the person very specifically what you value about your relationship with them.

Doing good leads to feeling good. Plus, doing this will help you reflect deeply on the sources of support you have, and help you feel supported and cared about. This self-reflection may also help you better understand what types of support are most valuable to you, or even what you're missing, and help prompt you to seek those out.

The better you can manage your mood, the more challenges and excitement you'll be able to take on. You'll also be more resilient when unwelcome challenges arrive on your doorstep. These will rock you less. When you have a big repertoire of strategies for boosting your mood, there will always be at least one that feels doable and is effective.

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