50 Small Things You Can Do To Improve Your Mood Right Now

  1. Write down three negative thoughts and tear them up.
  2. Write down three gratitudes (put these in your pocket).
  3. Blast your favorite music and dance around the room.
  4. Hike to the highest nature spot near you and notice how small you and your problems feel relative to the awe-inspiring beauty around you.
  5. Make plans with someone who lives far away to watch a favorite shared TV show at the same time. Both of you can each enjoy your favorite snacks and text each other reactions to the show.
  6. Imagine every detail of your happy place — the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations.
  7. Make a list of all the things that you have to do. Cross off #1 (Write a to-do list).
  8. Take a mental health day when you need it.
  9. Offer to help someone out.
  10. Make a collage (try making one in PowerPoint/Google Slides if you don’t have a lot of arts supplies handy).
  11. Go to your kitchen cabinet and smell all of your different spices. Pay attention to any memories that come to mind with any particular smells.
  12. Call an old friend.
  13. Write a letter from your Future Self with advice for your Present Self.
  14. Think about your biggest accomplishment in life. How did you make that happen?
  15. Download an app for emotional wellness.
  16. Schedule an appointment with your doctor or therapist.
  17. Run in place as fast as you can for one minute. Pay attention to how you feel before and after.
  18. Give someone a compliment.
  19. Bake something or make soup. Slow down and pay attention to all the little steps. Be present.
  20. Give yourself credit for doing the best that you can.
  21. Imagine that your best friend is feeling down and depressed. What would you say to them? Say this to yourself.
  22. Close your eyes (or gently lower your gaze to the floor) and spend one minute listening to the sounds around you — loud sounds, quiet sounds. Every time your mind starts to wander or you feel distracted, just gently bring your attention back over and over again to the sounds around you. Let go of everything else in the world for this one minute.
  23. Do something physically soothing — a hot bath, snuggle up in a comforter, or put on a favorite perfume or cologne.
  24. Catch your breath.
  25. Eat something exceedingly healthy and feel good about taking care of yourself.
  26. Make a donation (even if it is only a dollar) or volunteer your time to a cause that you support.
  27. Practice a loving kindness meditation.
  28. Take one step towards solving a task that has been bothering you.
  29. Dress yourself as cozily as possible, from your comfiest pair of underwear to the most soothing texture of clothing. Do exactly what you darn well please for one hour before you get back to being productive.
  30. Write an old school pen and paper letter to a friend, either near or far away. Send it or not.
  31. Listen to the song that made you feel your happiest at age 16.
  32. Stare at any little piece of nature — a stick, a leaf, a rock — and notice every little detail and crevice. Feel its texture on your skin. Close your eyes as you feel its shape. Keep it in your pocket and come back to it whenever you want to feel grounded.
  33. Say 3 nice things about yourself (even if you don’t believe them yet).
  34. Imagine who you would invite to a dinner party if you could invite any 10 individuals — famous or not, living or dead.
  35. Find something that gives you hope for the future. Ask yourself: what pushes you forward even on a difficult day?
  36. Blow bubbles with the small children in your life.
  37. Do something nice for someone without telling them about it.
  38. Eat mindfully. Put aside all distractions, screens, and thoughts of the day. Take three deep breaths and really look at your food before you eat it. Feel the temperature and texture of the food as you bring it to your lips. Smell, taste, and savor it. Bring your attention back over and over again to the simple act of eating each time your attention drifts away. Give yourself permission to do just this one thing in this moment.
  39. Plan a treat if you meet a goal (eg. a latte if you get the laundry done; a little extra TV if you exercise.)
  40. Make a Feel Good Playlist.
  41. Write something inspiring and share it with others online (eg. on Medium or The Mighty).
  42. What was your favorite hobby when you were a little kid? Give it a try again.
  43. Pray, meditate, or sit with silence.
  44. Make a list of your personal strengths.
  45. When you tuck yourself into bed tonight, treat yourself the way you would a small toddler. Get your coziest blankets, favorite PJs, read a relaxing book, and tell yourself soothing thoughts. Tell yourself that you are good. That you are loved. That you are proud of yourself.
  46. Pick one area of your life to work just a little less hard, at least for a little while. Enjoy the break.
  47. Email a friend and tell them that you are thinking of them.
  48. Close your eyes and let you mouth relax into a gentle smile. You don’t have to force it, but just see what it feels like to allow the corners of your mouth to slowly rise into a half-smile.
  49. Take some screen-free time and pick up a hobby you haven’t done in a while.
  50. Print this list and do at least one nice thing for yourself every day.

Anna Lindberg Cedar, MPA, LCSW is a Bay Area burnout prevention psychotherapist and founder of Therapy for Real Life. Her personal mission is to break beyond the traditional therapy hour to offer expanded access to therapy concepts — adapted for everyday use. Anna specializes in evidence-based therapies for changemakers in her Bay Area counseling practice, in addition to burnout prevention consulting with workplaces far and wide. Anna created the fun and interactive Burnout Prevention Hack-A-Thon, which she facilitates in workplaces across sectors to buffer employees against everyday stresses. Anna makes self-care even more accessible through the Therapy for Real Life podcast. Anna explains burnout prevention strategies drawn from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) — a counseling style that combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other change-based skills with mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies to help you lead a more balanced life. Get to know Anna’s therapy and consulting work through her website and contributions to Teen Vogue, The Mighty, and Medium. You can also find her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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