4 Simple Things You Can Buy on Amazon to Boost Your Mood
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Invest in your mental health with these simple products that may help you feeler calmer, more relaxed, and happier.
Why happiness is important for overall health
There is no one universal definition of happiness. Everybody has their own happy place, and for some being “happy” may simply mean feeling calmer. The general psychological consensus on happiness is that it involves the high quality of life and contentment with your current lifestyle.
“I define happiness like most researchers,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, distinguished professor of Psychology at University of California, Riverside, and author of The How of Happiness. “It has two components: The experience of positive emotions—joy, tranquility, pride, affection—and having a sense that your life is good or satisfaction with life in general.”
That’s not to say life has to be perfect or 100 percent Instagrammable to qualify as happy. Nor does it mean that happiness is a destination: You can’t arrive and simply stay. Happiness requires consistent effort to maintain or improve your current levels, says Sherry Benton, PhD, the Golden, Colorado-based founder and chief science officer of TAO Connect, an online therapy resource. (Here are the happiness secrets psychologists wish you knew.)
While feeling happy isn’t always something you can control, people who report feeling happier tend to live longer, have stronger immune function, and eat a more nutritious diet than other people.
Putting your money where your mood is
The Beatles were right: Money can’t buy you love. Turns out, it can’t buy you happiness, either. (P.S. these best simple pleasures in life spark joy.)
“One of the great things about working on your own happiness is the work can happen for free,” says Heather Lyons, PhD, a licensed psychologist and owner of the Baltimore Therapy Group in Towson, Maryland. “It can be motivating to focus on happiness and invest in the experience.”
Not surprisingly, people who earn more money tend to report feeling happier than other people—up to a point. According to a study published in 2018 in Nature Human Behavior, people tend to experience diminishing joyful returns above a certain level. (Somewhere around $105,000 for the average American family of four.) Just as with happiness, how we think about, spend, and save money can impact how we feel as a result.
Still, setting aside extra funds for emergencies—if you are able to do so—can help bring peace of mind. If you have the flexibility to save or allocate small funds to treat yourself to a few things, that just might boost your mood, too. Consider these expert-recommended options to add to your self-care plan. (But first check out eight happiness myths many of us have convinced ourselves are true.)
A Journal: The 5-Minute Gratitude Journal: Give Thanks, Practice Positivity, Find Joy
In as little as four weeks, those who wrote letters of gratitude to others as part of their overall psychotherapy treatment reported better mental health than their peers who just received counseling, according to a study published in 2016 in Psychotherapy Research.
And a study published in 2018 in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that adolescents who kept a gratitude journal were willing to donate about 60 percent more of their earnings to charity compared to those who went journal-free.
“If you express gratitude and try not to take things for granted, it can be really beneficial,” Lyubomirsky says. “This does not mean you are discounting the bad parts, but are consciously reflecting on the good.”
Journaling encourages self-awareness, adds Lyons, which can be an investment in your personal self-reflection and attention to the positive in-the-moment experiences. (Here’s how to start a journal.)
Try jotting down three to five highlights or things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. It might help boost your mood—not just in the moment, but also when you re-read it during challenging times. (We recommend these 29 instant mood-boosters on those days, too.)
A Meditation Pillow: FelizMax Zafu Buckwheat Meditation Cushion
$26 to $37
Becoming more mindful—paying attention to moments as you live them rather than ruminating about the past or fretting about the future—will help boost your happiness levels both in the moment and at the end of the day, suggests a study published in 2018 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Practice being right here, right now by making meditation a daily habit. Even starting the morning with five minutes of breathing in bed counts.
Another meditation tip from Lyons: Use a meditation cushion or pillow to make seated reflections more comfortable and welcoming.
An Art Therapy or Coloring Book: Essential Art Therapy Exercises—Effective Techniques to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD
“Pursuing new activities, like biking or baking, and making time to explore new interests can help increase happiness,” Benton says. “Find ways to play, laugh, and have fun. Whether it’s trying a new board game or re-watching a movie that makes you laugh, take the time to find the simple things that make you happy.”
One simple thing to try: Grab a set of crayons or colored pencils to use in an adult coloring book. You’ll decrease your stress and increase relaxation at the moment by coloring, according to a study published in the Journal of Integrated Social Sciences in 2018.
A Scented Candle: T&H Lime Basil Mandarin Stress Relief Aromatherapy Candle
The key to a more cheerful mood might be hiding right under your nose. Research shows that fresh-cut grass, rosemary, pine, citrus, and flowers are all scents that can increase happiness levels. So can smells that transport you back to a cozy place, such as the aroma of grandma’s fresh-baked holiday cookies. (Here are the best non-toxic candles to use for cleaner indoor air.)
- Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a distinguished professor of Psychology at University of California, Riverside and the author of The How of Happiness
- Sherry Benton, PhD, the Golden, Colorado-based founder and chief science officer of the online therapy resource TAO Connect
- Heather Lyons, PhD, a licensed psychologist and owner of the Baltimore Therapy Group in Towson, Maryland
- Nature Human Behavior: "Happiness, Income Satiation and Turning Points Around the World"
- Psychotherapy Research: "Does Gratitude Writing Improve the Mental Health of Psychotherapy Clients? Evidence From a Randomized Controlled Trial"
- The Journal of Positive Psychology: "The Impact of Gratitude on Adolescent Materialism and Generosity"
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: "How Mindfulness Training Promotes Positive Emotions: Dismantling Acceptance Skills Training in Two Randomized Controlled Trials"
- Journal of Integrated Social Sciences: "How Does Coloring Influence Mood, Stress, and Mindfulness?"
- Creativity Research Journal: "Sharpen Your Pencils: Preliminary Evidence that Adult Coloring Reduces Depressive Symptoms and Anxiety"