Dr. Erin Nitschke by Dr. Erin Nitschke

It’s not unusual to occasionally experience a decline in happiness or mood. Life gets busy, multiple responsibilities compete for our attention and stress levels increase. Before we know it, we may find ourselves feeling down and out. If this sounds familiar, here are some creative ways to hack your way back to a boosted mood. 


Participating in exercise naturally boosts mood by releasing endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in our brain. If you find yourself slipping into a poor mood, get up and take a five- to 10-minute walk or engage in some other type of activity to get the blood pumping and the mood rising.

Nourish the Body

Indulge in some tasty foods such as dark chocolate, leafy greens and other folate-rich foods, blueberries, chamomile or lavender tea, and magnesium-rich seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Nutrients in these foods are thought to be related to emotional health.

Set a Daily Affirmation

Identifying an affirmation is a way of providing yourself (and others) with emotional support and encouragement. A daily affirmation can also help establish a positive “vibe” or purpose for the day. Look for inspiration in books, quotes, song lyrics, poems or spiritual verses. Write down the affirmation and post it where you can read it and be reminded of the day’s focus.


Meditating—even if it’s for just five minutes—has been shown to reduce stress and improve a person’s outlook. Seek a quiet space, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and clear your mind of the day’s noise. Engaging in meditation allows you to go inward and reflect while finding peace and reaffirming your purpose.

Practice Gratitude

Start or end the day by journaling three things for which you are grateful. When a bad mood or down spirit starts to loom, use this exercise to reframe your thinking and focus energy on the positive. By looking at the positive aspects of life, it’s possible to change the pattern of thinking, thus leading to a happier outlook on life in general.


There’s drama to be found in social media, pop culture and the news, and it’s easy to get caught up in the riptide of the unpleasant aspects of the modern world. If too much negativity is pulsing through your news feed, shut it off, walk away and read a book or simply sit quietly. Take it a step further and leave your phone behind when you take microbreaks throughout the day. Scrolling through social media is not a mental break; rather, it acts as a stimulant and can cause additional stress.

Appeal to the Scents

The sense of smell is powerful and integrally connected to mood and memory. Try infusing your space with your favorite scents such as jasmine, chamomile, vanilla, citrus, peppermint and lavender.

Get Outside

A deficiency in vitamin D, sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin, has been linked to depression and anxiety. When possible, take a break outside and soak up some sun. Alternatively, use a sun lamp or light therapy to combat symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light therapy can be especially useful for individuals who work inside the majority of the day.

Happiness is influenced by our environment, lifestyle factors and behavioral choices. What are you doing to keep your spirits boosted and your attitude positive and encouraging? Try some of these hacks to support your efforts. It is important to note, however, that persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or stress should be communicated to your primary care physician in the event that a deeper issue is at play.

Want to develop hands-on, practical skills to create a foundation for a happy, healthy lifestyle? Become an ACE Behavior Change Specialist!

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