36 Ways to Feel Better Now without Medication

1. Journal. Include 3 things you are grateful for or 3 things you are able to appreciate today.

2. Have a cup of coffee. Coffee is linked to boosted mood. If you can’t drink coffee because of the caffeine, try another good-for-you drink like green tea or matcha. However, if you have anxiety, stick to one cup per day.  Caffeine can increase anxiety, so wean off altogether if your anxiety level is high. 

3. Imagine a getaway. It could be camping with friends or a trip to the tropics. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness without even going on the trip. 

4. Focus on one strength. Do something you're good at. If you like list-checking, put 3 easy things on the list and get them done for that dopamine hit of checking them off.  If you don’t know your strengths, see #32.

5. Get a good night's sleep. Turn down the thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees.  A weighted blanket and blackout shades or a mask can also help you feel snug and secure.  Use blue light glasses (yes, they really work for $10), and put your phone as far away from your bed as possible when you are ready to sleep.  Breathe deeply and slowly and count the exhales.  

6. Take a step.  Think of something in your life you want to improve and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.  Just the first step. Talk to your therapist or a friend about your goal.

7. Experiment.  Get creative with a new recipe, try to write a haiku, paint by numbers, or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked. Even planning to be creative or thinking about being creative can give a boost. 

8. Show some kindness. Do something nice for someone you like.  Even doing a kind deed to a stranger can help you feel better.  Sometimes more.  Take a cart back from someone in the parking lot, let a car turn in front of you, or give a water bottle to a homeless person.

9. Eat some really good (expensive) dark chocolate. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills and boost mood.  Buying the good stuff helps you eat only a little at a time. 

10.  Share your story.  Whatever it is, getting it out can help. Even part of it.  Either write it down, tell a friend, or talk to your therapist.  Just the act of sharing impacts the hippocampus where we process information in the brain.

11. See if you can enjoy something you already have. You have something that at one time you wanted passionately.  A new vacuum cleaner, an app, a book, your car - it could be anything.  Take a moment to remember that desire and then the excitement of getting it.  Go and use it again with that renewed passion. 

12. Do some coloring.  An active, but quiet and creative activity can feel very soothing.  Thanks to Mental Health America for the link to hundreds of free printable coloring pages here.

13. Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy, or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.

14. Turn it off. Turn off notifications of constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions.  Start small and work up to a time amount you can tolerate.  See if you can go 8-12 hours.

15. Dance around.  Dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases endorphins (the body's "feel-good" chemicals).  Try it while you get ready or do chores.

16. Yawn. Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.  It also stimulates the vagus nerve.   

17. Relax in a warm bath. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.

18. Hum or gargle.  Both of these stimulate the vagus nerve to “reset.”  Soothing the vagus nerve helps calm you down.

19. Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone cortisol and boosts oxytocin which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, find one nearby to pet.

20.  Practice mindfulness by staying "in the present."  Try grounding exercises, like the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, by finding five things you see, four things you touch, three things you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste

21. Be a tourist in your own town. Go do something cool.

22. Try prepping your lunches or picking out your clothes for the work week. You'll save some time in the mornings and have a sense of control over the week ahead.

23. Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet.  They are linked to decreased rates of depression and suicide among their many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria. 

24. Practice forgiveness.  Even if it's just forgiving that person who cut you off during your commute. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives. 

25. Practice positivity. Try to find the silver lining in something kind of cruddy that happened recently.

26. Smile. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down. 

27. Send a thank you note.  Let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.  Do it anonymously if you want to.

28. Do something with friends or family. Studies show that if we have 3 close people in our lives, we can feel as happy as having a multitude. Quality matters over quantity.  Just spend time with someone you care about.

29. Go for a walk in nature.  Even just putting your bare toes in the grass or sitting on the grass can be “in nature.”  Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.

30. Go get 15 minutes of sunshine.  Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts believe is a mood elevator. Take D3 supplements.  Almost everyone is deficient in this mood-boosting vitamin.

31. Try something new.  Doing something outside of your comfort zone makes room for adventure and excitement in your life.  Know that it is ok to “fail.”

32. Take a free strengths assessment at  http://CallowayCoaching.pro.viasurvey.org and marvel at how amazing you are! Talk about the results with a friend or therapist.

33. Say an affirmation in the mirror.  It feels silly, but it’s ok to laugh.  Say anything nice you think of to yourself.  Even if it’s as simple as “you got up today-good job.”

34.  Delete social media.  Or at least turn off the notifications.  People overwhelmingly report feeling better when they take a break from social media.

35.  Eat some carbs.  Carbs help us produce serotonin, so if you are really down, eating some carbs can give you a boost.  Try to make sure it isn’t too sugary.   

36. Turn on some music.  Music has magical qualities to boost your mood or provide comfort.  Listen to what you like. 

This list is adapted with gratitude from Mental Health America.  MHA offers many free self-help tools and assessments at  https://mhanational.org/self-help-tools#one

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