April 25, 2023

17 Mood Boosters to Help You Feel Better Fast

photo of Adam Felman

Written By

Adam Felman

photo of Renae Thomas, MD, MPH

Medically Reviewed By

Renae Thomas, MD, MPH

Lifeforce Physician

17 Mood Boosters to Help You Feel Better Fast

Feelings such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or loneliness can make your day feel like a struggle. Negative emotions can also seem to magnify your problems. Thankfully, taking a few easy steps can help give your emotional well-being a much-needed lift.

The tips for how to feel better below take the focus off your worries by getting you out into nature, helping others, tapping into your endorphins, and supporting your health.

These solutions may not be right for everyone. If you feel down consistently, are anxious regularly, or have emotions that interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from depression. Talk to a physician or a mental health professional about getting the clinical treatment you may need.

Here are 16 simple ways to help you feel better, fast.

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How to Help Yourself Feel Better Quickly

“How do I feel better?”You’re only human, so it’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll feel down, lost, or bored. However, the people you know, the movies you love, the environment you live in, and the compassion you can give can all help you feel better — mentally and physically.

couple hiking1. Head Into Nature

Spending time in nature has been shown to support mental health, so head to a nearby park, beach, or forest for a mood boost.

The emotional uplift you feel from stepping outdoors begins in your body. Exposure to green spaces has links to lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. It might also slow your heart rate and reduce blood pressure. 

This tip for how to feel better may feel impossible in today’s fast-paced world. However, spending just two hours a week in nature can increase your feelings of well-being.

2. Lean Into Your Feelings

When you’re feeling down, one of the best ways to feel better fast may seem counterintuitive. It’s simple, though it can feel challenging. It involves letting your feelings take over for a while.

According to Dr. Les Greenberg, author of Emotion-Focused Therapy, trying to run from your negative feelings can make them intensify. However, giving them some room to take you over for a while can help them subside.

To do it, try to leave your thoughts behind and fully feel the bad emotion. This can involve sitting for 10 or 20 minutes, breathing deeply, and giving yourself over totally to your sadness.

3. Help Someone

Helping someone else could make you feel a lot better, fast. A study of 1,871 students found that participants who spent more time volunteering were happier — even compared to people who donated money to charity.

Helping others boosts happiness, reduces loneliness, and may decrease the effects of stress. Being kind to others may have an even more significant effect than being kind to yourself. And giving to others may increase happiness more than spending money on yourself. So — you actually can buy happiness — but only by spending on others!

This strategy for how to feel better is also good for your health. A UC Berkeley study found that elderly people who volunteered in some way were 63% less likely to die in the next five years.

4. Create Something

Jotting down your thoughts in a journal, drawing a picture, or expressing yourself through sound or movement can provide a powerful mood boost. In fact, doing something creative may improve your sense of well-being and even help you think more clearly.

Engaging the creative side of your brain may help you feel better even when your problems are intense. For example, music therapy has been shown to improve mood in female domestic abuse survivors.

To be more creative, try adding in some daydreaming time, freewriting, or brainstorming while you exercise. Here’s a guide from Hubspot with 11 ways to jumpstart your creativity.  

5. Watch a Movie or Read a Book

Distracting yourself may seem like a temporary fix, but it’s a science-backed mental strategy for coping with stress and daily problems. Watching a movie or enjoying a great book can take you away from your problems and give you time to reset.

Movies provide a dopamine kick by triggering the pleasure-linked mesolimbic pathway in the brain. They also stimulate areas of the brain linked to beauty, art visuals, and music enjoyment. All of these can give you a dopamine kick and improve your mood.

You may already use this tip for how to make yourself feel better, but knowing the science can help you indulge guilt-free.

6. Pet an Animal

Spending time with an animal can increase your levels of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter linked to positive emotion. At the same time, it can lower cortisol, provide feelings of social support, and improve your mood.

A few minutes with a furry friend can also improve your interactions with other human beings, potentially increasing empathy, positive mood, and trust. All these are important for building your support network — another way to feel better about yourself.

7. Practice Meditation

Meditation has a rich history of supporting relaxation, improving mental balance, helping people deal with adverse events like illness, and enhancing health. 

In one study, practicing just 13 minutes of daily meditation for eight weeks reduced negative moods and improved anxiety. This technique can have a positive effect beyond the meditative state too, including a lasting effect on your emotional control.

mother daughter orange picking8. Practice Being Mindful

Mindfulness is different from meditation and involves simply living in the moment. For many people, it’s also easier than meditation since you don’t need extra time to do it. Any time you focus on doing something in the present, like walking, running, cycling, gardening, dancing, cooking, eating, or cleaning, you’ll increase your mindfulness and enjoy some stress relief

For example, mindfully walking in nature for 20 minutes can reduce negative mood more than walking without applying mindfulness techniques. To do it, pay attention to your senses and your breathing as you walk. When your mind starts to wander, gently guide it back.

9. Laugh Out Loud

If you feel sad or stressed, give yourself permission to cue up a comedy on Netflix. Laughter stimulates your stress response and then releases it, leaving you feeling more relaxed. It can also reduce muscle tension and lower cortisol — a stress hormone — and increase neurotransmitters that help you feel good like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. 

And consider this: Your body can’t tell the difference between real and simulated laughter, so you can trick yourself into feeling better by pretending.

See more tips for how to feel better in our article 5 Science-Backed Ways to Reduce Stress.

10. Do Something With a Friend

The next time you go for a run or head to the gym, see if you can get a friend to come along.  Doing something with a plus-one can make you feel better by releasing oxytocin and endorphins. In one study, participants had higher endorphin levels after rowing a boat with others compared to rowing alone.

Seeing friends more often and building higher quality friendships may also make you feel more satisfied with life. So, even reaching out with a quick phone call to check in can give you a fast pick-me-up.

11. Try a Mantra or an Affirmation

Using a mantra during meditation can help you feel better about yourself. One study found that repeating a mantra improved cheerfulness and clarity of mind during an exam. Another found that mantra meditation helped people with major depression to feel better.

Self affirmations can improve self-worth too, and may interact with brain reward pathways to boost your mood. To start using affirmations, choose a positive thought about yourself and repeat it two to four times every morning.

Here’s a quick guide to mantra meditation, and a few steps for how to make self-affirmations work.

12. Practice Gratitude

According to Lifeforce co-founder Tony Robbins, “without gratitude and appreciation for what you already have, you’ll never know true fulfillment.”

Counting your blessings is a proven way to boost your mood. A meta-review of eight studies found that just by making a list of things you’re grateful for, you can significantly reduce the symptoms of stress and depression. 

There are strong links between gratitude, mindfulness, hopefulness, and improving your ability to cope with stress. By practicing gratitude daily, you can enhance your life satisfaction — which, in turn, creates more gratitude.

man eating healthyHow to Feel Better About Your Body

Some mood boosters can help you in the moment, but learning how to feel better about yourself isn’t just about soothing your mind. If you eat the right fuel, spend time recharging, and correct imbalances throughout your body, you’re more likely to feel energized, motivated, and focused. This in turn can make you happier.

13. Exercise Regularly

Exercise can help you achieve your health goals over time, but a single session can also help you feel better fast. A 2021 study on 60 university-aged women found that a single workout created a boost in body image that lasted for at least 20 minutes post-exercise.

Even better, research from 113 studies concluded that physical activity improves self-esteem regardless of duration and intensity. So you don’t need a punishing regimen to boost your mood. Even a few minutes of exercise a couple times a day may give you a brighter outlook.

Working out can help you in more ways than one. See how exercise can improve your hormone health.

woman stretching at home14. Stretch or Pose

Yoga can help you be more mindful and more limber, but it may also help you feel better about your body by inspiring gratitude, boosting confidence, and creating a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re interested in starting regular yoga practice, it’s best to begin slowly and build your routine over time. You can start with a simple beginner’s guide to yoga, find a local studio, or download a popular smartphone app.

This tip for how to feel better takes some practice, but you may notice a difference after just a single session.

15. Sleep Enough

Sleep is a cornerstone of healthy minds and bodies, so optimizing your sleep schedule could literally help you feel better overnight. Research on 1,805 adults showed seven to eight hours as the best sleep duration to maximize your levels of self-esteem and optimism.

Even one night of short sleep can make you feel angry, stressed, sad, or tired. A University of Pennsylvania study found that subjects who missed a few hours of sleep experienced an increase in all these emotions, while returning to their normal sleep schedules improved their mood.

16. Get Tested for Vitamin Deficiencies and Hormone Imbalances

If you’re not feeling your best, hormone imbalance or vitamin deficiencies could be to blame. Low levels of iron and/or vitamin B12 can deprive your body of healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin to nourish your cells with sufficient oxygen.

A vitamin D deficiency can sap your bone and muscle strength. Either of these can change the way you feel. See our article on the best vitamins to boost energy and beat fatigue for more.

Imbalances in hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol can cause a range of physical effects that can negatively affect your mood throughout the day.

Lifeforce’s at-home blood test measures 40+ biomarkers, including DHEA and other key hormones that underpin your health, performance, and mood. All diagnostics include a telehealth visit, clinical report, and personalized plan created by a Lifeforce clinician.

17. Eat Well 

A study of 456 adolescents found strong links between following a Mediterranean diet and higher self-esteem. This diet, rich in unprocessed whole grains, legumes, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables is also associated with a lower risk of depression.

Adding fatty fish to your diet may boost your mood as well. Fish like salmon and sardines are packed with healthy omega-3s, which are linked to lower levels of depression. You can also get plenty of omega-3s from walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and ground flax seeds.

friends exercisingHow to Make Someone Else Feel Better 

One way to feel better is to help someone else feel better first. As Al Pacino famously told Rolling Stone in 1984, “when you’re not thinking about yourself a lot, you’re usually happy.”

Being there for others takes patience, persistence, and empathy, but it’s a win-win that comes with a mental health boost.

Here are some suggestions that may help someone feel better when they’re down: 

  • Listen intently. Active listening can stimulate the reward centers in the brain of the person who is talking.

  • Reach out and check in. A review of four studies found that people regularly underestimate the negative emotions of even their well-known peers. Checking in can help you improve your understanding of your friends’ emotions, and help you feel less alone.

  • Bring them to a workout. A 12-week study showed that exercising in a group setting reduced perceived stress and improved quality of life compared to exercising solo (or not at all). If your friend’s in a rut, try exercising with them.

  • Keep them busy. Distraction can be a powerful way to improve someone’s mood. Try taking your friend to a movie or grabbing a healthy bite to eat.

  • Laugh with them. Just being with someone else makes laughter 30 times more likely. Laughter can also be a powerful mood regulator.


The tips for how to feel better in this article focus on helping others, making space for your emotions, getting outside, and practicing gratitude. They also support your physical health, which is strongly linked to your emotional well-being. An active, nutritionally balanced, hormonally optimized, well-rested lifestyle can boost your mood throughout the day. Try these tips, and you may find yourself feeling lighter and brighter than before.

tony robbins energyBased on research in Life Force by Tony Robbins, take the first step toward improved energy and optimized health with Lifeforce. Our monthly membership empowers you with everything you need to track your body, get expert guidance, and take the right steps to live at your peak.

This article was medically reviewed by: 

Renae Thomas, MD, MPH; ABFM Board Certified in Family Medicine, ABPM Board Certified in Public Health, & General Preventive Medicine; ABLM Board Certified in Lifestyle Medicine

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