15 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Mood this Holiday Season
Like millions of other people in the world, I live for the holiday season. The twinkling lights. The constant cycle of cookies in the oven. The Family Stone and Elf playing on repeat. Peppermint and gingerbread EVERYTHING. I mean, what’s not to love? Heck, I even adore the tacky ugly sweaters.
Yet as therapeutic as I find the evergreen aromas, I’d be lying if I said Christmastime is 100 percent holiday cheer. From the clusters of crowds and the extra spending to the tumultuous travel and increased social obligations, there’s no doubt the non-stop hustle can take its toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. And before you know it, what’s supposed to be a joyful family-time marathon quickly spirals into a holiday nightmare full of Scrooges galore. Sound familiar?
Well, the good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Despite the lack of time we might have to tear through uplifting self-help books or escape to a rejuvenating retreat somewhere off the beaten path during the holidays, there are quite a few ways to recalibrate your mind when the going gets rough and instantly improve your mood. And the best part is they’re all quick, easy, and *drumroll please* FREE, catering to even the most tightest of schedules.
So no matter if you only have one, 10 or 30 minutes to spare, below are 15 simple solutions you can do to make this season truly the most magical time of the year. You know, and not go insane in the process.
- Drink more water: Okay, I know what you might be thinking — Drink more water, really? Yet despite the simplicity, it works. Being dehydrated can negatively impact your mood, not to mention your metabolism. So keep a bottle by your side, set an alarm, and at the top of each hour, CHUG.
- Jump around: Whether it’s bringing out the jumping jacks, using an invisible jump rope, or cranking up the volume to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” do whatever you have to do to get those positive endorphins pumping.
- Light up lavender: Ambient scents of lavender can work wonders on your mood, so light a candle and burn away that unwanted layer of stress. (The scent of orange has also been proven to reduce anxiety.)
- Go toward the green: Not only does the color green symbolize happiness, but psychologists have also said it can create the feeling, too. Now, you have even more reason to stare at the tree.
- Say cheese: While smiling can immediately turn a frown upside down, snacking on pieces of Parmesan can, too. Seriously! It’s one of the best foods for beating stress, with 400-500 mg of mood-boosting tryptophan per 100g.
- Seek the good: Cultivating gratitude is one of the quickest ways to improve your mood. Even it’s acknowledging the most basic of needs — the clothes on your back, the roof over your head, not to mention the beating of your heart — in doing so, you’ll instantly start radiating the happy vibes.
- Conduct a quick-clean: Is it just me or is Clorox a one-wipe wonder? I can’t even begin to explain how much lighter I feel mentally after a quick cleaning session. No matter if it’s wiping down the counters or simply taking out the trash, having a tidy space — even if it’s just one corner — will keep your sanity intact.
- Snuggle up and cuddle: Who doesn’t love a good cuddle session? Not only can climbing under a warm blanket make us feel more relaxed, but studies have shown physical touch can decrease stress, too.
- Eat without distractions: Instead of using your mealtime as a quick opportunity to scroll through the latest news-feed updates or catch up on that missed show you’ve been dying to watch, put away any digital distractions and eat in peace. Trust me, even the smallest digital-detox can reduce anxiety.
- Escape to somewhere quiet: Whether it’s stepping outside for some fresh air or simply heading to the room across the hall, escaping to a quiet space will allow your mind the time it needs to rewire and refocus.
- Get Moving: Although it might seem like a quick run or sweat session will cramp your to-do list, exercising will actually boost your energy levels and make you more focused. So do your mind (and body!) a favor and tie up those laces.
- Give yourself a mani/pedi: Or any kind of self-care for that matter. No matter if it’s painting your nails or taking that long, hot bath you’ve been dreaming about, remind yourself that self-care is not an indulgent; it’s a necessity for your well-being.
- Meditate: If you ask me, nothing relaxes the mind quite like a few hip openers. (Child’s Pose, anyone?) But even if yoga isn’t your cup of tea, simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breath through meditation will have a huge impact on calming your nerves.
- Dial up an upbeat friend: Moods are contagious. So to infuse more happy vibes, call that upbeat friend to catch up or invite them over for an Olivia Pope size glass of wine (or two, or three — no judgement!)
- Dive into something new: Is there a new coffee shop you’ve been wanting to swing by? How about that recipe you bookmarked a while back? Experiencing new things — no matter the size — will renew your creativity, bring forth a newfound perspective, and leave you with fun memories to share.
Kathryn McLamb is a writer and photographer on a mission to inspire others to celebrate the everyday. She runs her blog Pineapple Street, and when she’s not plotting her next travel adventure, you can find her wandering the colorful city streets of San Francisco.