10 Small Things You Can Do To Make Yourself Feel Instantly Happier

lesly-juarez-220845-unsplash

We all have days when we feel down in the dumps, frustrated, or angry. Most of us don’t have the luxury of taking mental health days and calling out of work or canceling all of our plans when we have days like that.

There are small things you can do in the moment to make you feel happier, however. Some of these suggestions might sound silly at first, but I’ve tried all of these and they really do work.

Here are ten small things you can do to become instantly happier.


1. Smile

frank-busch-700111-unsplash.jpg

Studies have shown that when you smile, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel happier. So, essentially, when you smile, you’re tricking your brain into releasing those chemicals. This is the easiest thing to try when you’re feeling sad or upset.


2. Walk Outside

matic-kozinc-102131-unsplash.jpg

Spending 20 minutes walking outside in nature can boost your mood significantly. Obviously, this isn’t convenient for everyone, but if you can, take a walk outside on your lunch break or in the morning. Back when I lived in Asheville, NC, I would spend many of my days off hiking, and my mood was always improved for days afterward.


3. Breathe

le-minh-phuong-478540-unsplash.jpg

Meditation is incredible and has been shown to be beneficial to our bodies and minds. Some people find meditation a little intimidating but it doesn’t need to be! At its very simplest, all you need to do is spend a few minutes paying attention to your breaths.

You can even do this at your desk. Just close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths, and try to focus on your breathing. There are also several apps you can download to your phone with guided meditations (such as Headspace).


4. Be Mindful of Your Posture

clarisa-guerra-660773-unsplash.jpg

Most of us don’t think about our posture very often, but bad posture could lead to bad moods. If you need help, Lifehacker has a wonderful guide on how to improve your posture.


5. Practice Gratitude

gabrielle-henderson-701889-unsplash.jpg

When you look back on your day or week, are you more likely to remember the bad things that happened or the good? For a lot of us, we tend to focus more on the negative things around us. Practicing gratitude can help us focus on those good things we experience on a daily basis, even if those things are minuscule. There are so many things you can be grateful for: a friend texting you just to say hi, catching every green light on your way to work, your dog greeting you happily at the door, the temperature being perfect outside, etc. There’s really no end to things that you can be thankful for.


6. Text a Friend

derick-anies-120213-unsplash.jpg

This is something that I make use of whenever I’m feeling terrible at work. My job is super stressful and involves getting screamed and cussed at over the phone for hours at a time. Whenever I’m starting to focus on the negativity, I text one of my friends just to say hi or to see how they’re doing. Hearing from people you care about can instantly boost your mood.


7. Surround Yourself with Things That Make You Happy

norbert-levajsics-343107-unsplash.jpg

If you have a desk at work, keep a photo of your loved ones or your pets on it. If you work in customer service, change your phone background to a picture that makes you smile or a motivational quote. Put fresh flowers in your room. Basically, surround yourself with things that make you happy.


8. Laugh

matheus-ferrero-320901-unsplash.jpg

Much like smiling, laughing can trick your brain into releasing chemicals that make you feel happier. Also, who doesn’t like a good laugh? Ask someone to tell you a joke, watch your favorite ridiculous gif, or recall memories of something hilarious that happened to you once. Force yourself to laugh your ass off.

For me, no matter how bad of a mood I’m in, this clip from Star Trek: The Next Generation always makes me laugh. Make sure you watch it to the end.


9. Use Essential Oils

vero-photoart-140937-unsplash.jpg

I used to work in a spa, and during those years I discovered that there really is something amazing about aromatherapy. Scents such as orange, lavender, and peppermint (among others) can instantly boost your mood. Everybody enjoys different scents, so experiment and find what scent makes you happiest! For me, I enjoy a blend of orange or grapefruit extract with a touch of rosemary.


10. Remember That You Are Amazing

guilherme-stecanella-370459-unsplash.jpg

After going through a rough breakup years ago, this tip really helped me. Anytime I was feeling worthless, I’d find one or two things that I loved about myself. It would instantly make me feel better, and would also serve to boost my confidence! If you’re thinking of saying there’s nothing amazing about yourself… don’t! You are absolutely amazing, and you have countless great qualities you can focus on. Feel good about who you are, and constantly remind yourself of how awesome you are!



What do you do when you’re feeling down? Let me know in the comments!




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:
Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon Wishlist
If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

A Brief Guide to Mindfulness Meditation

raul-varzar-BO-E70Ug2G8-unsplash

Meditation is a relatively easy and completely free activity that has an incredible effect on your moods, anxiety, and stress levels. I discovered this about a decade ago, during a challenging summer when I was really depressed and randomly picked up a few books on Buddhism and meditation to read.

A few years later, I found this wonderful meditation group on my university campus that I went to once a week. I had never received guided meditation before, and being in a relaxed atmosphere gave me a lot of positive space to grow my meditation practice.

Over the years since then, I kept up my meditation practice, until I moved to another state three years ago. Prior to that move, my practice had definitely been faltering. I had swung into another deep depression, and whenever I’m feeling that way I have trouble motivating myself to do even small tasks.

Meditation has been on my mind a lot recently because my mental health these past two or three months has been terrible. Even with anti-depressants and bipolar medication that is helping more than anything else I’ve taken, the stress of my job combined with general life stuff has had me feeling unmotivated and deeply unhappy.

lesly-juarez-DFtjXYd5Pto-unsplash.jpg

Which is why I’ve started meditating again. I wish I had never stopped, but it’s interesting to see how different my mind is during periods when I’ve meditated than when I haven’t. During long periods when I forgo meditation, I find that it takes less provocation to set off a panic attack or wild mood swings. However, when I meditate regularly, even when it’s just fifteen minutes a day, it’s obvious that I’m handling stress better, have more patience, and find myself having fewer high-anxiety days.

There are so many different ways to meditate, and how you meditate really comes down to what you get the most benefit from. I tend to focus mainly on mindfulness meditation, where I simply follow my breath. I’ve also used walking as a form of meditation, although that’s no longer possible where I live. Some people prefer guided meditation or meditating on an idea or feeling. There’s religious-based meditation and even people who use music or sports (such as running) to give them feelings similar to meditation.

Essentially, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. 

Today, I want to give you guys a quick lesson on how I meditate. It’s very simple, although it isn’t always easy. The instructions below will lay out the basics for you, and I’ve provided some additional tips and advice afterward.


form-gUjBCYzR7aU-unsplash.jpg

A Simple Mindfulness Meditation Guide
For Beginners

First, start by finding a comfortable, quiet place to sit. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy, I usually meditate on my couch or floor. You can do it outside if you want, or in your bed. Just make yourself comfortable.

Set a timer for however long you want to meditate. I usually aim for 10-15 minutes per session, but you can do as little as five minutes or as much as an hour (or more). When you’re first starting out, I recommend keeping it to just 5-10 minutes, and then gradually increasing the time as you get more comfortable.

Now, you’re ready to start meditating! Close your eyes and begin to move your focus to your breath. Some people find this easier to do while silently saying corresponding words to yourself, such as “breathe in/breathe out” or counting your breaths until you get to ten and then starting over. Personally, I either focus on the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe or use the “breathe in/breathe out” method.

Any time a stray thought comes forward, just gently acknowledge it and go back to your breath. Try not to get frustrated when this happens – it’s inevitable. Even people who have been meditating for years have trouble keeping their thoughts entirely at bay.

When your timer goes off, slowly bring yourself out of your practice. I usually take a moment or two to appreciate how relaxed my body feels while slowly opening my eyes. Take as long as you can before getting up and carrying on with your day. Trust me, once you feel how relaxed your body is even after a short meditation session, you’ll want to!


amy-treasure-4aSCchQ1hzk-unsplash.jpg

Things to Remember

  • There’s no need to get into a full-lotus position or sit in front of an altar of crystals or statues. For this kind of meditation, the only important thing is that you’re in a sitting position that you can comfortably maintain for the duration of your practice.
  • It’s okay if you can’t turn off your thoughts! Meditation isn’t easy and it takes years of practice to be able to empty your mind of all thoughts. I’ve been meditating for years and I still find random thoughts popping up every time I sit. When this happens, just acknowledge the thought and go back to your breath.
  • If it’s hard for you to focus on your breath, try guided meditations. There are tons of free resources! My favorite app is Headspace. You can also just search guided meditation on YouTube or find CDs at your local library. I’ve seen guided meditations for five minutes all the way up to a couple of hours. Find what works best for you.
  • While you can meditate anywhere, some people prefer to set up a little meditation area and find that it helps them maintain the habit. If you have space and think this will help, go for it! It’s easy to set up a nice meditation area. Grab some cushions, candles, plants, or whatever else reminds you of relaxation.
  • Most cities have meditation groups available, so if you’d like to find a meditation group or class, do a Google search of your area or check Meetup.com.
  • If you have pets, prepare to have them invade your personal space. Over the years, I’ve lived with cats and dogs and it never fails that once I sit down to meditate, they become fascinated and walk over to plop down into my lap or start sniffing at me. Just like those stray thoughts, try to ignore it!

As I said before, meditation is really important to me. If you give this lesson a shot, let me know if it worked for you! This is a topic that I love, so if you want to see more meditation lessons, just let me know!


Do you have a regular meditation practice? Tell me about it in the comments!




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon Wishlist

If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – A Review

The Little Book of Hygge Meik Wiking.jpg

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
Nonfiction | Home & Living | Self-Help
Published by Penguin Life
Released September 1, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

stella-rose-nYFQhSq7Zjw-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Stella Rose on Unsplash

“Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.”

Meik Wiking is the CEO of an organization called the Happiness Research Institute and considers himself an expert in happiness. How do people in Denmark stay so cheerful? After all, citizens of Denmark are thought to be the happiest in the world. Part of the secret is practicing hygge.

max-adulyanukosol-PV2trXWZODQ-unsplash.jpg
Denmark. Photo by Max Adulyanukosol on Unsplash

Hygge isn’t a word or concept that is easily defined, but the sense that I got from Wiking’s book is that hygge is anything that makes you feel cozy and comfortable. My sense of hygge actually fits in with Dictionary.com‘s definition:

“the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having conversations with friends or family, enjoying food, etc.”

Throughout The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking gives us many easy ways to bring hygge into our everyday lives. Many of these suggestions are things that are universally associated with coziness, like candles, blankets, and great company.

Before I get into the rest of the review, I want to share my favorite portion of this book, regarding a Danish tradition that I had never heard of but that I find morbidly delightful. At Danish birthday parties, there is a character called Kagemand (Cakeman) who is a giant gingerbread man. Cakes are baked in his image and decorated with candles and decorations. And then, this:

Part of the tradition is that the birthday boy or girl cuts the throat of the Cakeman while the other kids scream.”

What?!

I found it difficult to rate this book over three stars because I didn’t learn anything new from it. Perhaps that’s because my partner and I have always gone out of our way to make our home comforting and cozy and we already practice most of Wiking’s suggestions. (We have so many candles and blankets. It’s absurd.) However, if you want a short and sweet book to give you some ideas to turn a chaotic home into the kind of place you look forward to coming home to, you might want to pick this book up.

kira-auf-der-heide-ZH8hV44gHEU-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

The presentation of The Little Book of Hygge is wonderful. I read it on my Kindle, and it was a pleasant experience. There are a ton of cute drawings throughout the pages, and the chapters are nice and short, making it a very easy book to read. Another cute aspect is that there are recipes scattered throughout.

In the end, I’m not sorry I read this book and I don’t feel that I wasted my time, but I do feel that I could have gotten the same information from reading a much shorter article on hygge rather than an entire book.


Have you read The Little Book of Hygge? How do you stay cozy? Let me know in the comments!




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon Wishlist

If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

10 Small Things You Can Do To Make Yourself Feel Instantly Happier

lesly-juarez-220845-unsplash

We all have days when we feel down in the dumps, or frustrated, or angry. Most of us don’t have the luxury of taking mental health days and calling out of work or canceling all of our plans when we have days like that.

There are small things you can do in the moment to make you feel happier. Some of these suggestions might sound silly at first, but I’ve tried all of these out and they really do work.

Here are ten small things you can do to become instantly happier.


1. Smile

frank-busch-700111-unsplash.jpg

Studies have shown that when you smile, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel happier. So, essentially, when you smile, you’re tricking your brain into releasing those chemicals. This is the easiest thing to try when you’re feeling sad or upset.


2. Walk Outside

matic-kozinc-102131-unsplash.jpg

Spending 20 minutes walking outside in nature can boost your mood significantly. Obviously, this isn’t convenient for everyone, but if you can, take a walk outside on your lunch break or in the morning. Back when I lived in Asheville, NC, I would spend many of my days off hiking, and my mood was always better for days afterward.


3. Breathe

le-minh-phuong-478540-unsplash.jpg

Meditation is incredible and has been shown so many times to be beneficial to our bodies and minds. Some people find meditation a little intimidating but it doesn’t need to be! At its very simplest, all you need to do is spend a few minutes paying attention to your breaths.

You can even do this at your desk. Just close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths, and try to focus on your breathing. There are also several apps you can download to your phone with guided meditations (such as Headspace).


4. Be Mindful of Your Posture

clarisa-guerra-660773-unsplash.jpg

Most of us don’t think about our posture very often, but bad posture could lead to bad moods. If you need help, Lifehacker has a wonderful guide on how to improve your posture.


5. Practice Gratitude

gabrielle-henderson-701889-unsplash.jpg

When you look back on your day or week, are you more likely to remember the bad things that happened or the good? For a lot of us, we tend to focus more on the negative things around us. Practicing gratitude can help us focus on those good things we experience on a daily basis, even if those things are minuscule. There are so many things you can be grateful for: a friend texting you just to say hi, catching every green light on your way to work, your dog greeting you happily at the door, the temperature being perfect outside, etc.. There’s really no end to things that you can be thankful for.


6. Text a Friend

derick-anies-120213-unsplash.jpg

This is something that I make use of whenever I’m feeling terrible at work. My job is super stressful and involves getting screamed and cussed at over the phone for hours at a time. Whenever I’m starting to focus on the negativity, I text one of my friends just to say hi or to see how they’re doing. Hearing from people you care about can instantly boost your mood.


7. Surround Yourself with Things That Make You Happy

norbert-levajsics-343107-unsplash.jpg

If you have a desk at work, keep a photo of your loved ones or your pets on it. If you work in customer service, change your phone background to a picture that makes you smile or a motivational quote. Put fresh flowers in your room. Basically, surround yourself with things that make you happy.


8. Laugh

matheus-ferrero-320901-unsplash.jpg

Much like smiling, laughing can trick your brain into releasing chemicals that make you feel happier. Also, who doesn’t like a good laugh? Ask someone to tell you a joke, watch your favorite ridiculous gif, or recall memories of something hilarious that happened to your once. Force yourself to laugh your ass off.

For me, no matter how bad of a mood I’m in, this clip from Star Trek: The Next Generation always makes me laugh. Make sure you watch it to the end.

 


9. Use Essential Oils

vero-photoart-140937-unsplash.jpg

I used to work in a spa, and during those years I discovered that there really is something amazing about aromatherapy. Scents such as orange, lavender, and peppermint (among others) can instantly boost your mood. Everybody enjoys different scents, so experiment and find what scent makes you happiest! For me, I enjoy a blend of orange or grapefruit extract with a touch of rosemary.


10. Remember That You Are Amazing

guilherme-stecanella-370459-unsplash.jpg

After going through a rough breakup years ago, this tip really helped me. Anytime I was feeling worthless, I’d find one or two things that I loved about myself. It would instantly make me feel better, and would also serve to boost my confidence! If you’re thinking of saying there’s nothing amazing about yourself… don’t! You are absolutely amazing, and you have countless great qualities you can focus on. Feel good about who you are, and constantly remind yourself of how awesome you are!



What do you do when you’re feeling down? Let me know in the comments!




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon Wishlist

If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!