6 Mood-Boosting Activities to Help You Feel Better When You’re in a Funk

Susannah Shmurak

by | Read time: 6 minutes

Many different factors can have a negative impact on our mood – stress at work, inadequate sleep or chronic pain, for instance. Sometimes imbalances in hormones or neurotransmitters might be the issue. If you’re feeling a bit grouchier than usual or just a little blah, you might want to give these ways to improve mood naturally a try.

Woman Enjoying Mood Boosting Sunshine on Patio While Relaxing and Petting Dog

It’s important to figure out what’s affecting your mood and rule out any medical issues. In cases that involve chemical imbalances or hormonal changes, you want to understand the underlying cause so you can address it appropriately. Additionally, it’s critical to distinguish between serious mental illness and the more mundane trials and tribulations that can send mood into a tailspin.

If crummy weather, a run-in with a difficult coworker, or too much on your plate is making you crabby, it’s worth trying some of these strategies to help put yourself in a better frame of mind to meet life’s challenges.

Could your mood could use a little lift? Try one of the natural ways to improve mood outlined below.

Mood Boosting Activities

1. Get a little sunshine

As anyone who’s gotten crankier in winter can attest, not getting enough exposure to sunlight can have a serious impact on your mood. Making a point of getting outside more, especially in the morning, may help lift your spirits. Sunlight helps stimulate your hypothalamus, which affects levels of serotonin, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter.

On days you can’t get out in the sun, it may be worth exploring light therapy.

In addition to the pick-me-up we get from sunlight, contact with the natural world has some beneficial impacts as well. Studies suggest that when we spend time in natural environments, our blood pressure and cortisol levels drop. Whether you try forest bathing, practice earthing, or relax by a lake, communing with nature may be just what your mood needs.

Gardening has many benefits as well, increasing your access to healthy, mood-supporting food while exposing you to sunlight and beneficial microbes.

2. Move more

Though many of us lead very sedentary daily lives, moving our bodies makes us happier. When we exercise, we stimulate the release of numerous feel-good compounds, including endorphins and serotonin. Regular exercise also promotes better sleep and can alleviate muscle tension and pain, all of which can affect mood.

Multiply the mood-boosting impact of your sweat session by taking it outdoors to get the benefits of fresh air, sunshine and time in nature. Working in the garden counts as mood-boosting movement, too!

3. Mind your microbiome

Research on the human microbiome has yielded some surprising information about the ways the makeup of our gut flora affects health, including our mental states. Researchers have called the gut our “second brain,” because what goes in our digestive tracts turns out to have an impact on the neurotransmitters that affect brain function and regulate mood.

When our gut flora is out of whack, our sleep can also suffer, which can also negatively influence mood. Nourish your gut health with plenty of fiber-rich prebiotic foods and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and lacto-fermented sauerkraut. Avoiding things that can disturb the balance of gut health such as artificial sweeteners and processed foods will help support a healthy gut – and happier mood – as well.

4. Munch mood-boosting foods

We know a diet rich in a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods promotes health, and that includes mental health. Some less nutritious foods can promote Inflammation in our bodies, not only puting us at greater risk for a host of diseases, but also negatively affecting our mood. Foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, such as colorful vegetables and fruits, can help temper inflammation and its damaging effects on mood. Carotene (found in orange foods) may be especially helpful for encouraging a cheerful outlook.

Research suggests that levels of omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in a mood. Whether you get your omega-3s from fatty fish or plant-based sources such as chia seeds, flax and walnuts, including these foods regularly in your diet may benefit mood.

Compounds in dark chocolate may have a mood-boosting effect. When a craving strikes, do your mood a favor and reach for a sweet treat that combines dark chocolate with other ingredients that may help mood, like chia or berries. Try a chocolate chia pudding, vegan nut clusters, or this incredible chocolate bark studded with goji berries and pumpkin seeds.

Also consider these additional ways to improve your your mood with healthy food choices.

5. Get a massage

Pain and muscle tension can take a real toll on your mood. Whether you’ve got tight shoulders from too much time hunched over a computer or your muscles are sore from yard work, a soothing massage can relieve pain and improve your mood. Choose from a variety of different massage techniques to find the one that suits your needs.

Not able to see a professional masseuse? Try giving yourself a massage or use a foam roller to loosen tense muscles. A gentle oil massage or foot massage may also help promote feelings of well being, especially if you use a massage oil with soothing scents like lavender and chamomile. Keep a handy headache relief stick on hand to calm neck tension on the go.

Breathing techniques that help release muscle tension can help as well. You might also consider pursuing acupressure or acupuncture to relieve pain and tension.

6. Tap into the power of plants

In addition to spending time enjoying plants outdoors, adding certain medicinal plants to our wellness routines can have extra benefits for mood. Whether you prefer a flavorful cup of tea or a portable extract, numerous herbs have grown in popularity for their usefulness in supporting mood and helping manage stress. Adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola, tulsi, eleuthero and ashwagandha can be taken as supplements, or you can enjoy them in your morning coffee or coffee alternative, tea and even in protein powders.

One especially popular herb for enhancing mood is tulsi, known as the “queen of herbs.” Slowing down to enjoy a flavorful cup of tea is one simple way to boost your mood effortlessly. Try a fragrant tulsi rose tea or a warming tulsi chai, or up your intake of anti-inflammatory superfoods by sipping tulsi superfood moringa or turmeric and ginger.

You can also grow relaxing herbs in your garden and use the soothing scents of plants like lavender to help improve mood any time. Making a tincture of some these herbs can allow you to have them on hand whenever you need them.

Some of the herbs most often recommended for mood include plants that are easy to grow in your garden. Calendula’s sunny edible flowers help combat grumpiness, while motherwort, according to herbalist Maria Noël Groves, supports those feeling “overworked, underappreciated, or on the edge of a rampage.” If that sounds like you, a few drops of motherwort extract might be just the thing. Groves also recommends Bach’s Rescue Remedy, beloved by fans for its calming effects during extreme stress. Keep some of these tasty ‘rescue’ pastilles on hand for when you need them.

Armed with some of these tools to bolster your mood, you’ll be prepared the next time your spirit needs a little lift.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Featured Products

Solaray Sharpmind Mood
Kuli Kuli Mood Magic Superfood
Irwin Naturals Sunny Mood