5 Free (or Almost Free!) Mood-Boosters:

1. Go for a walk.

I try to take the dogs for a nice long walk around the neighborhood everyday. Sometimes we only get a quick walk in, but I have definitely noticed that the longer walk days tend to be a bit better overall. Causation? Correlation? Who can tell? All I know is, there have definitely been PLENTY of days I’ve been in a funk and didn’t want to go for “walkies” as they are so eloquently called at our house. But 99% of the time I come home in a much better mood. (The other one percent is if Freya is just having a day and acts like she’s never seen a leash before in her life…) The natural light and fresh air and movement are a quick and easy fix for the mental funk and some of those little aches and pains that sitting at a desk tend to bring.

2. Spend time with loved ones.

Pop over to your grandma’s house to visit for a while, or if you live too far away for a quick visit like I do, a phone call or FaceTime is also a huge boost. Have some friends over for dinner one night. You don’t have to do anything fancy. Just set another place or two and fix whatever you were already going to eat. Those are the kinds of friendships to cherish and protect above all others. The people you can have over on a random weeknight for a plate of spaghetti and real, honest connection are such a gift. If you don’t have friends like that in your local community, I urge you to join a small group at church, get involved in a local civic organization that interests you, or find some other club or a like-minded group through the meetup app to get to know people. Developing real friendships beyond the initial acquaintance stage takes time and effort but it is SUCH a game changer. After a good friend dinner, my internal loveometer is off the charts and I feel so joyful that there is no room for anxiety…. and y’all THAT is a miracle.

3. Hot coffee or tea.

I prefer to make it at home for pennies on the dollar compared to a trip to Starbucks or one of the cute local coffee shops. But if it fits the budget, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing a coffee out (it just doesn’t fit the free headline then lol). A hot cup of decaf coffee or earl grey tea is such a stress reliever on a hectic day! For a while I mentally scolded myself for needing what I considered to be an “emotional crutch,” but then I learned that it’s actually a very healthy grounding exercise to make a cup of coffee or tea and sit and savor the warmth of the mug, to notice and appreciate the steam and the smell, to feel the hot liquid on my tongue and enjoy the nuances of the flavor. All of that is very meditative and works to pull me into the present. It forces me to be in the here and now and NOT chasing anxious thoughts down briary bunny trails.

4. Jesus time.

This should go at the top of the list! I definitely have a better day when I start with scripture before I even get out of bed. Most days I don’t hit that goal, and I get to it a little later in the day or at bedtime. And there are plenty of days I don’t get to it at all. But all those days without it serve as a solid control group and show me that the days that start with Jesus are noticeably better. Some days what I read will be especially resonant and it feels like passages are speaking directly to me and my current situation. Other days, it’s just good to remember that I am a very small small part of a grand plan. Zooming out to get that eternal perspective before I start my day generally helps me push through the bad or the boring times with more peace and less anxiety. It is so validating to be reminded that it all has a purpose, all the day to day drudgery, even if I can’t always see it from my human perspective.

5. Scream a lil.

I have always thought this Screaming Deer Vine video was funny, but it is starting to take on an even deeper meaning to me lately. I’ve been learning at counseling that all emotions are valid and it’s completely okay to feel frustrated, upset, sad, angry, etc. All those feelings I had been thinking of as “bad” and trying to avoid actually NEED to be felt and acknowledged. (Why is calculus taught in school, but this stuff isn’t?!?) In the appropriate setting, it is totally okay to do a deer scream and let it out!!! Ya know, don’t do this in the middle of a meeting at work or anything… but in the car by yourself a good solid guttural soul-refreshing UUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHH can do a world of good.

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