Check out these science-based ways to boost positive emotions, decrease negative emotions, and make yourself feel better.
Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes bad things happen that put us in a bad mood. Other times we make decisions that get us down. And still other times we feel bad for no obvious reason. All we know is that we want to feel better...but we're just not sure how. Luckily, psychological research has shown us some ways we can boost our mood. Here are a few to check out:
1. Practice gratitude
One of the best ways to start feeling better fast is to practice gratitude. You can write a gratitude journal or a gratitude list. These activities can result in a quick and fast boost of positivity.
2. Cultivate self-compassion
Self-compassion can often help us feel better about ourselves. We're not as judgmental of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and we treat ourselves better. You can boost self-compassion by writing yourself a self-compassionate letter that reminds you of all the good things about you and treats you kindly.
3. Boost self-confidence
When we are confident, we are more likely to take the necessary actions we need to take to improve our lives. As a result, it can be easier to be in a better mood. We may be able to boost self-confidence by reminding ourselves of our strengths and positive qualities. So go ahead and think about your strengths. It doesn’t have to be anything big—maybe you’re a good cook, good at playing video games, or have a good imagination.
4. Write yourself a 'feel better soon' letter
Research shows that looking at our current situation from another point in time can decrease our current negative emotions and make us feel better (Bruehlman-Senecal & Ayduk, 2015). So if you've experienced a breakup or other difficult event that has put you in a bad mood, it may be helpful to write a letter to yourself from some time in the future. Tell yourself to "feel better soon" and talk about all the great stuff your future self is doing once this challenging time has passed.
5. Try to notice the positive things
Numerous studies show that training our attention away from the negative and onto the positive improves our well-being (MacLeod, et al., 2002; Wadlinger & Isaacowitz, 2008). For example, if we lose a job, we might say to ourselves: "I am so happy to have my family and friends".
6. Look at positive images
All the science is great for helping us learn strategies to feel better. But hey, sometimes we just want to look at funny or cute things, am I right? (There's actually science that suggests positive images do boost our mood.) Sometimes, when we’re feeling down, it can be helpful to let our brains rest, look at cute cat videos online and just let our mood improve that way.
If you're in a bad mood there are some things you can do to feel better. You can try the tips presented here. Just be sure to be gentle with yourself, and take your time.
Bruehlman-Senecal, E., and O. Ayduk. 2015. “This Too Shall Pass: Temporal Distance and the Regulation of Emotional Distress." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 108 (2): 356.
MacLeod, C., Rutherford, E., Campbell, L., Ebsworthy, G., & Holker, L. (2002). Selective attention and emotional vulnerability: assessing the causal basis of their association through the experimental manipulation of attentional bias. Journal of abnormal psychology, 111(1), 107.
Wadlinger, H. A., & Isaacowitz, D. M. (2008). Looking happy: The experimental manipulation of a positive visual attention bias. Emotion, 8(1), 121.