With the cold setting in and in the midst of finals—among other things—it can sometimes be hard to keep our heads up. Whether homework is taking a toll on you, you’ve been through a bad breakup or you’re just in a rut, we can all use some cheering up at times. Lucky for you, we consulted some collegiettes and a few experts for their favorite pick-me-ups and found the top nine methods to making yourself happier.
While happiness seems like a mental concept, that’s not always the case. Keeping your body in check is important for balancing your mental health. Exercising can release stress, help you sleep better and boost your energy throughout the day.
“While there are literally thousands of published studies showing the cardiovascular and musculo-skeletal benefits of activity, we should also never discount the 'above the neck' benefits,” says Todd Whitthorne, president of ACAP Health. “While 'happiness' is a state of mind, we know with certainty that well-rested, physically active people that consume a healthy diet are much more likely to enjoy life and have a positive influence on others.”
Of course, it's easier said than done.
“Sometimes it's difficult to motivate myself to go for a run after work when it's already dark and cold out, but it really clears my head after a long day like nothing else can,” says Jenna Adrian, a sophomore at Drexel University. “When I finish my run I feel so much calmer and refreshed than when I started.”
Even if the thought of leaving your bed is getting you down, we promise you’ll feel better after getting some exercise. A quick jog, some burpees or even 15 minutes of yoga can boost your mood and make you feel productive.
2. Help someone out
If you’re feeling down, the last thing you might want to do is interact with... well, anyone. But trust us when we say that doing something nice for another person will make you feel better! Lending a helping hand not only makes someone else’s day, but it can boost your own mood, too.
“Doing something to make someone else happy has always been something that improves my mood!” says Jules Sippel, a sophomore at Gettysburg College. Sign up to volunteer in your community with a friend, or do something as simple as helping your parents out by vacuuming the living room. Lending a hand helps out others and makes you feel a bit more productive yourself.
3. Have a warm drink
If you’re feeling down or stressed, fixing yourself a hot drink is an easy and quick go-to fix. It’s simple, fast and soothing—perfect to pick you back up.
“Warm drinks are perfectly cozy,” says Jules. “I prefer tea or cider when I'm sad or stressed!” If you’re feeling off, consider putting the teapot on the stove or fixing yourself a cup of hot cocoa (with mini marshmallows, of course)!
4. Take a bath
An oldie-but-a-goodie, taking a bath is a surefire way to relieve a little stress and pick up your mood. It might seem a bit cheesy, but don’t be afraid to break out the bubbles, candles and even the romance novels. There’s nothing like some hot water, nice aromas and soothing music to cheer you back up!
5. Eat antioxidants
Just like exercising can help with your mental health, so can healthy foods. If you eat right, you’ll feel right—so try to keep your meals on the healthy side. Antioxidants can boost your energy, clear your skin and support your immune system—and they happen to be found in the yummiest kinds of food, like fruit and dark chocolate.
“I keep a bag of dark chocolate Hershey Kisses in my pantry,” says Alexandra Blessing, a student at Millersville University. “Dark chocolate has been proven to increase happiness because of the antioxidants,” she says. “Any time I'm stressed out, I eat a few!”
According to experts, there's a direct link between what we put into our bodies and how we feel emotionally.
“What we eat affects how we feel, because food is the building block not only of our muscles and bones, but of our very thoughts and emotions as well,” says health and wellness expert, Peggy Hall. “That might seem strange, but everything we do, feel and think is a matter of chemical reactions. And the food we eat affects those chemical reactions.” Next time you hit the dining hall, opt for some fruit, or stop by the grocery store and pick up a bag of chocolate to cheer yourself up!
With all the business that comes with college—studying, spending time with friends and extracurricular activities—it can be hard to make time for yourself. Most of us spent a good chunk of time reading back in elementary school and probably throughout high school, but dropped the habit when other priorities took over in college.
Set aside some time to sit back, relax and do some light reading. A good book can take you into another world and make you completely forget the negative things in your life for a few hours. If you don’t have the interest or time to invest in a book, flip through your favorite magazines or read a short story!
7. Talk to a loved one
Sometimes when you’re feeling out of it, it just takes someone you love to get you back in the groove. Feeling lonely or distant is common, and connecting with someone special can bring you back to reality and make you realize that your situation probably isn’t as bad as you think.
“Talking to a loved one, even if it's about something totally unrelated, can be an amazing mood-lifter,” says Jules. Next time you’re feeling down, call up your parents, a sibling or a good friend and chat for a while. The conversation just might be able to distract you and cheer you back up!
While even thinking about meditating makes you tired, there’s a lot more to it than you think. In reality, meditating allows you to clear your mind and appreciate mindfulness and living in the moment. It means taking just 10 to 30 minutes a day to clear your mind completely.
“Meditating leaves you relaxed and more aware throughout the rest of the day,” says Nicole Fulkerson, a senior at Auburn University. “Most importantly, it leaves you time to not think about the things that stress you out or make you upset like school, relationships and everyday struggles.”
Meditation can be tricky at first, but with practice, you can easily clear your mind in just a few minutes. “There are a few ways that you can learn to meditate for free,” says Nicole. She uses an app called OMG! I Can Meditate as well as YouTube videos that viewers can follow along with.
9. Get something done
Though you’d probably much rather watch Netflix in bed than clean your room, sometimes work is exactly what you need to do to brighten your day. Getting work done can be incredibly rewarding, and while you might not feel very cheery in the middle of it, we can promise that you’ll feel better after.
“While working is hardly something you'd like to do, productivity can give you another focus and the inspiration you need!” says Jules. Next time you’re feeling down, consider scrubbing down your apartment, writing that essay you’ve been putting off or running some errands you have to do. Productivity is a great mood booster.
If you’re feeling down, there are always simple ways to snap out of it. Remember to keep healthy, stay connected and set some time aside for yourself in order to keep your mood up!