Deep, lasting happiness generally comes from major shifts in things like lifestyle or perspective. That might mean taking on a meditation practice, or making big-picture changes to your diet.
But there are small yet effective steps you can take when you need an in-the-moment mood boost. For this piece in our #AMinuteForMe series with youtheory®, we asked Naomi Arbit, PhD, a behavioral scientist who focuses on the psychology of wellness and potential, and other top wellness experts, to share one-minute tricks that will help calm you and bring a smile to your face.
“So much of the research coming out of positive psychology tells us that happiness is really a matter of selectively directing our attention to things that boost rather than drain our energy and wellbeing,” Dr. Arbit says.
Bonus: While these may seem like shortcuts, using them could add pieces to your bigger happiness puzzle. “The little moments add up, and the time we spend worrying rather than cultivating relationships and engaging in activities that bring us positive emotion have a real impact on our wellbeing over the long term,” Dr. Arbit says. So try these tricks today.
1. Take a breather
“The biggest mistake is to react immediately to something that triggers you. I used to do this all the time,” says Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder and CEO of Los Angeles meditation studio Unplug Meditation. When presented with a situation that’s likely going to bring you down, stop and do this instead: Take one deep, slow, 16-second breath: 4 seconds inhaling through the nose, 4 second pause, 4 seconds breathing out, and 4 second pause. Doing this will help you respond “kindly” to the potential stressor, Schwartz says.
2. Sniff an orange
“Orange is the essential oil of happiness and works like a charm every time,” Schwartz says. Place 3 drops of orange oil into the palm of your hand and rub your hands slowly together. Bring your hands to your nose and take deep breaths in through your nose. “Instant happiness,” she says. No essential oil? Try this instead: “You can use a real orange as well, and just smell it directly,” she notes.
3. Supplement with saffron
You likely know saffron as a coveted spice used in paella and other dishes, but youtheory® Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Nick Bitz says it’s also one of his favorite mood-boosting supplements. “Emerging research shows that just 30mg per day can help promote positive mood states,” he says. While a lot of what you’ll find on supermarket spice racks is old and adulterated, youtheory’s capsules are made with the highest-quality, DNA-verified saffron. They also contain rhodiola, “one of the most widely studied adaptogens and quite possibly the best [natural] mood enhancer available to us.”
The key: This qualifies as a quick fix because you can pop up a supplement in less than five seconds, but Dr. Bitz emphasizes that to see real results, consistency is key. “It’s important to remember that natural health products are much more food-like than they are drug-like,” he says. “As such, they are usually much more subtle in their effects and require usage over a longer period of time in order to reach their full potential.”
4. Make a gratitude list
Research shows thankful people are happier people, and Nikki Sharp, author of the new book Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss, has experienced this firsthand. “Starting a gratitude journal is one of the easiest and most effective practices you can do to increase your happiness,” she says. “Grab a notebook and each morning before you leave the bed, or before you go to sleep at night, write down five things you’re grateful for. You’ll find that even on the hardest days, you are able to change your outlook.”
5. Schedule your social media
Have you ever considered what constantly coveting Instagrammers’ perfect outfits, perfect smoothie bowls and impossible yoga poses is doing to your mood? “We check social media so frequently that it puts a negative damper on our mind and we never feel satisfied with our own lives,” says Sharp. “I’m a firm believer in not being on social media as often as you think you need to be, and this is coming from an influencer.” She recommends setting certain times to check your accounts and then setting a timer to keep yourself accountable.
6. Savor the small stuff
It’s easy to get so caught up in the push and pull of your day-to-day that you don’t even notice things that would normally make you happy. “Take a moment and mindfully savor something that brings you small pleasure: A cup of tea, warm water running over your hands while you wash them, a cozy sweater you’re wearing, or a little snack,” says Dr. Arbit.
7. Connect with a loved one
Daily life can be isolating when you’re working long days and don’t have time for meet-ups with friends or phone calls to family. “Reach out and connect to someone you love dearly—even if it’s just looking at a picture of them,” Dr. Arbit says. “By connecting with loved ones, your brain releases dopamine, and you’ll immediately get a shot of feel-good hormones.”