When you’re feeling blue, it can be difficult to get out of your routine and make positive changes, but it doesn’t take a large effort to start to improve mood and mental health. The items on this list are low-effort but high-reward and can help you overcome inertia that’s keeping you stuck.
After reading through, pick the one that appeals to you most and do it – forget about the others for now. The idea is to make a small change and stick with it.
Go for a Short Walk
Exercise is a well-known mood lifter. It not only provides a short-term boost of feel-good endorphins for a few hours but long-term improvements in mental health as well. The good news is that you don’t need to commit to a lot of vigorous exercise to reap the benefits. One study found that a short daily walk of just 12 minutes was enough to improve mood.
Write it Down
The simple act of writing things down is very powerful. Keeping a journal can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce stress, and aid in recovery from a traumatic event. One option is a gratitude journal, which can help you become aware of the good that’s already in your life. You can also write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences as a way to help your process what’s happened in the past and look forward to the future. How you do it is up to you; the key is to write regularly.
Connect with Others
Social isolation and loneliness are deleterious to both physical health and mental health. It can become worse with age, as family and friends move away or pass on, yet it’s so important to maintain and foster these connections. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Pick up the phone and speak with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Strike up an old-fashioned correspondence by mail with a beloved aunt or nephew. Better yet, meet up for some face-to-face time with an old friend or a new one.
Limit (or Avoid) Social Media
We may know that all those posts and pictures we see on Facebook and Instagram are highly curated and don’t reflect an accurate picture of reality, but it’s still easy to compare ourselves and feel “less than.” There’s also the pressure to present to the world an equally enviable façade. If you’re looking to improve your mental health, the best thing you can do for now is limit time on social media – or even delete your accounts.
Do Something for Someone Else
Find a volunteer position in your area or just be on the lookout for opportunities to do good in your daily life. Why? Because when we do good, we feel good. Altruism is a part of our biology. It strengthens our bonds to the community around us and reminds us that we’re part of a large network that extends beyond ourselves. It reminds us that we can make a difference in the world – and that we matter.