Life’s stresses have a way of getting us down, and there are so many ways to unwind to get serotonin levels spiking again. The problem is, too many of these outlets, like shopping, eating out and getting a Swedish massage, will set the budget back a bit – or a lot!
Take a deep breath and relax. With an open mind and the willingness to try new things, you can lift your spirits for less. Here are 8 ways to boost your mood without spending a penny.
- Take a walk in the woods
Nature has the remarkable power to soothe our minds and lift our spirits – and science backs this up. Research shows that “forest bathing”, or spending time alone in a heavily wooded area, can lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol in the body. Take a walk in the woods and you’ll likely come home with a far better mindset than you were in when you left.
- Eat more chocolate
Dark chocolate is a known mood-booster, and it provides other health benefits, too. Studies show that chocolate also enhances brain power and helps improve focus. Look for chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content, and the next time you need a mood lift, take a chocolate break.
- Pet a furry friend
When life’s got you down, your pooch can provide the perfect pick-me-up! Scientific evidence proves that stress levels in humans decrease when they pet a furry friend. Give your pet a little extra love when you need to de-stress and you’ll feel your muscles relax almost instantaneously. If you’re currently pet-less, you can stop by an animal rescue center to spend time with the animals there.
- Listen to music
Everyone knows that music is a fabulous mood-lifter, but did you know that science has shown it can mimic the body’s reaction to addictive substances? Researchers in the Nature Neuroscience journal reported that people’s brains released large amounts of dopamine when they listened to their favorite music. The study only worked for the listener’s best tunes; when the scientists chose the songs on the next day of the experiment, the participants’ brains did not let out as large amounts of the feel-good hormone as they had on the previous day. So, when you’re feeling blue and you need to de-stress, tune into a playlist of your favorite songs and you’ll soon be smiling again.
- Take a bubble bath
When it’s been a long day at work and you just need to relax, there’s no better place to do it than in the tub. Let the warm, sudsy water wash the tension away and improve your mood. Extra points if you add scented soap and light some candles for a fully immersive experience.
Meditation is a powerful tool for grounding yourself and finding inner peace. Sit comfortably in a quiet space and focus on your breath or on a calming mantra. Free your mind and let go, allowing your thoughts to travel anywhere without judgment. Engaging in just a few minutes of mindful meditation each day can make a noticeable difference in your stress levels and leave you in a lighter frame of mind.
- Tune your brain
Our brains operate in different states of mind at various times, each of which affect our mood. You can learn to fine-tune your brain frequencies through intense meditation practice. Or, you can take the easy way out and find a free audio that automatically tunes your brain to a certain state of mind.
The frequency you’ll find relaxing is specific to you. In general, though, most people find listening to alpha frequencies to be the most relaxing. A quick YouTube search will bring up free audios for you to try for an instant lift. For the best experience, use stereo headphones when listening to alpha frequencies.
- Digital detox
While using a touchscreen can release small amounts of dopamine in the brain, spending hours glued to a screen can also leave you feeling moody, or as if your brain’s been fried. Studies consistently show that electronic devices can cause sleeping issues and mental disorders. Of course, any time you’re spending with your devices is more time you’re not spending engaged in activities that will relax you or make you happier.
For a daily mood boost, challenge yourself to unplug from your devices for an hour or more each day. Use this time to read a book with pages you can actually turn, pick up an old hobby that doesn’t require a screen, play a board game or sport with your family or just sit and be.
We can all use a little more lightness in our lives, but that doesn’t have to cost a thing. Use the tips here to boost your mood without spending a penny.
Your Turn: What gets you out of a funk? Tell us about your free mood-lifters in the comments.