Sometimes life is rough. For one reason or another, we feel down on ourselves or our circumstances and it sucks. Physical health doesn’t do much good if your mental health is suffering, so today we share 20 of our favorite ways to take care of yourself and improve your mood that are quick, easy and low cost or free!

QUICK & EASY ACTIVITIES TO BOOST MOOD

These activities are intended to restore some inner tranquility. Choose the ones that speak you to.

GET OUTSIDE – Fresh air heals! Do something outdoors, could be a walk, reading in the sun, working in your garden, sitting on the beach or posting up at your favorite view spot. It does not have to be active! So long as breeze is hitting your skin and your are at a comfortable temperature, it’s all good.

FILL YOUR SPACE WITH FLOWERS – Whether from your garden, the grocery store, or a nearby florist, get at least one dozen flowers for your space. I like to split my flowers into 3 or 4 smaller bouquets (use mason jars, old jam jars, etc.) and place each one in the rooms I spend the most time in. Trader Joe’s always has affordable blooms.

READ POETRY – The graceful words of others can be powerful tools in lifting out spirits. If you have a favorite poet or book of poems, revisit that work. I enjoy the Poetry Foundation’s Poems of Hope and Resilience collection and pretty much anything by Maya Angelou. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a sampling of some of the poems I find solace in.

CHANGE YOUR PHONE LOCK SCREEN TO AN INSPIRATIONAL IMAGE OR MESSAGE – May sound silly, but this is a huge one for me! Since my phone is always with me and I’m constantly staring at it to check the time or notifications, why not use my lockscreen as a positivity reminder? Here are some we developed about bravery, or you can create your own. Instagram accounts I rely on for inspiration and uplift are I Am Her Tribe, Subliming, MindfulMFT and Recipes For Self Love. Check them out!

TIDY YOUR SURROUNDINGS – This could mean cleaning, reorganizing your space, or donating items that you no longer use and that are creating clutter.

SLEEP – Sometimes we feel heightened anxiety because we are overextended and need rest. In a perfect world we’d all get 8-10 hours of sleep each night, but this isn’t that world. Which is why naps can be a great selfcare technique! Even if you feel like you are not good at taking naps, or that you should be doing something ‘more productive’ with your time, try to devote 45 minutes – 1 hour to curl up in your bed with cozy blankets and listen to ambient sounds. Historically I was never able to calm my mind enough to take naps, but I worked at it and am now a proud napper! See our ‘clean sleep’ tips here. I am especially fond of placing a heating pad on my stomach when I feel in need of comfort and some restorative rest. To prevent yourself from constantly checking the clock, set a timer so you can put your mind at east until the alarm sounds.

TAKE A SHOWER OR BATH – If opting for a bath, light candles, add bath salts or sprinkle flower pedals in the water and turn on soft music like jazz or classical. If showering, make it a leisurely one by taking time to really scrub each body part and attend to the areas that we often rush past in daily life. It’s also lovely to make a bundle of eucalyptus and hang it near the shower head for spa-like steam.

GROOVE TO UPLIFTING MUSIC – Find a playlist or album you’ve loved for a while, connect to your bluetooth speaker, turn up the volume and dance around or sing along. Not having the music play from your phone helps make this moment all about your sensory release and body movement, and helps you not get distracted by texts or sucked into checking apps.

SLOWLY ENJOY A CUP OF TEA – Sure you may already drink a lot of tea, but take a queue from ancient cultures and make a ceremony out of it. Ways to do this include: making fresh tea from mint, ginger or citrus peels; steeping fancy tea in a tea pot and sitting quietly as you sip the warm liquid; or using each sip as an opportunity to acknowledge the gift of feeling warm and being able to appreciate life’s small pleasures.

BE ACTIVE – Opt for whatever exercise always makes you feel truly good. Be gentle with yourself and don’t force a hardcore workout if that is not what feels compelling. Seriously! Being active to boost mood does not require being the most intense, it’s about choosing to move your body in a way that will release tension and recenter you with your breath.

CALL A FRIEND – Aside from moms, our friends tend to be our biggest fans and supporters. Set aside 20-30 minutes to call, FaceTime or Skype with a friend who you haven’t caught up with in a while. Do nothing else during the conversation, be fully present! Ask them about their lives, practice attentive listening, communicate your appreciation for their friendship and share your feelings. It works like a charm and reminds you of your fortune and loving community.

JOURNAL – Using a pen that you love and some nice paper, write for 5 to 25 minutes on any topic. You can even draw if that is what feels best in the moment! Remember that no one else will see what you write, so let go of any inhibitions and let the paper absorb your feelings.

DRY BRUSH & MOISTURIZE YOUR ENTIRE BODY – The state of of physical bodies impacts our mental state, thus selfcare activities like dry brushing will help you feel refreshed and likely more optimistic as you move through your day.

MAKE A TO-DO LIST – Sometimes when we are overwhelmed or feeling sad, it can be a challenge to take action on tasks, which in turn creates more anxiety. In these moments I like to create a list of 4-10 things that I want to accomplish in the next 3 days. Make sure that at least half the items you add to your list are things you can feasibly complete with approximately one hour of concentration. Creating a to-do list full of highly involved or complex tasks is not a recipe for selfcare or feeling better. Start small and once you’ve completed those tasks, you can add on bigger ticket items.

ORGANIZE YOUR FINANCES OR EMAIL INBOX – You may find reassurance and a sense of calm by getting a handle on life’s more logistical elements. Although this task can seem daunting, you’ll likely surprise yourself with how much progress you can make in one hour of focused effort.

SPEND A NIGHT IN WITH A GOOD MOVIE – Find a feel-good movie and settle in. I opt for comedies because laughter really helps me.

DIGITAL DETOX – As wonderful as our technology devices can be in connecting us to our community, jobs and the world’s events, they can also heighten our sense of insecurity, anxiety or stress. If you’re someone who is generally always connected, try to abstain from all apps and social media use for 24 hours. Only use your phone as a phone (e.g. to make or take important calls) and keep it in a separate room from where ever you are spending time.

DO A FACE MASK – Love the skin you’re in and treat it right with a simple clay or sheet mask.

SPEND TIME WITH AN ELDERLY LOVED ONE – Spending quality time with an elderly family member, neighbor or friend will help ground you and remind you of the important things in life — quality relationships and learning from the wiser ones among us. It is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of modern living, which makes visiting with elders who move at a slower pace a welcome reminder that it’s not necessary to always zoom through life at 100 MPH.

EAT A NUTRITIOUS MEAL – Make it yourself (FIT recipes here) or buy your favorite healthy meal. Savor the food without any distractions and try to focus on how fortunate it is to feel nourished and fuel your body.

Click poem images to read

Are there other activities you swear by and love? Please share them in the comments below!