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Feeling Stressed? Give These Mood-Boosting Hacks a Try

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With work and home schedules upended, it’s totally normal to feel uncertainty and stress in times like these. Kick some of those anxious feelings to the curb with a few smart mood boosters. Breathe a little easier by giving these five science-backed strategies a go.

Envision future happiness.

Start looking ahead if you want more purpose in the here and now. Simply imagining a brighter future helped people find increased meaningfulness in everyday behaviors, one 2018 study found. By simply writing down three happy things that they anticipated in the future, like visiting family or making friends, participants perceived their actions as more meaningful.

Snap more photos.

Channel your inner photographer for an easy boost. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine wanted to know whether using a smartphone camera could improve moods, so they assigned study participants a specific photo assignment to complete every day for four weeks. People either snapped smiling selfies, took photos of things that made them happy or captured pictures that would make someone else happy and then sent them to that person. The results? All three assignments had a positive impact on mood, so there’s good reason to embrace your inner shutterbug.

Load up on more fruits and veggies.

What you put on your plate not only affects your physical health but your emotional state, too. After studying the diets of more than 12,000 adults, some Australian scientists found that increased fruit and vegetable consumption predicted increased happiness, life satisfaction and well-being, so go ahead and pile on the produce. In-season options right now include asparagus, celery, carrots, peas, kiwi and strawberries.

Tap on a different type of app.

Give mobile meditation a shot the next time that you reach for your phone. People who completed a 10-minute mindfulness exercise on their phones each day for 10 days experienced better moods, according to a 2014 study. It’s not just any app that does the trick; the researchers found that using the popular meditation app Headspace had significant benefits compared to a control group using a list-making program. Some research suggests that meditation may physically change the brain and potentially even help with anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Get moving, even just a little.

The health benefits of exercise extend far and wide, but you don’t even need to break a sweat to reap some of the mood-boosting side effects. People who are more physically active are happier, a 2017 PLoS One study found using smartphone data. What’s more, individuals feel happier in the moments when they are more physically active, whether it’s walking, running, biking or whichever way you like to move. Another review found that as little as 10 minutes of physical activity per week might result in increased levels of happiness.

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