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11 Ways to Cheer Up When They’re Working Your Nerves

We’ve researched simple ways to help boost your mood right now.

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African American Woman Dancing on red background to cheer up
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Just one funky moment can affect how you feel. Maybe you get a phone notification about yet another irritating news development, or a last-minute rush assignment at work. Perhaps a date has ghosted you or you received that call from the school principal that no parent wants. What’s a great way to get a grip? Call or text a sister-friend for support. Here are 10 others, collected by your friends here at Sisters.

Replay what went well today. Write down three things that turned out positively since you woke up this morning. Oh! You woke up this morning. There’s one right there. Be grateful for the things that are going well and this in turn can help you feel happier, Harvard Medical School reports.

Get a healthy snack. Feeling “hangry?” When we’re dealing with a stressful moment, we may focus on fixing the mess and forget about mealtime. But skipping meals can cause your blood sugar to drop, which can then result in the release of stress hormones. Going forward, help avoid the issue by planning balanced meals and snacks throughout the day — think plates that include veggies and snacks like almonds — and including more healthy, unprocessed items.

Get some sleep. If your crabby mood is linked to a lack of shut-eye, try adjusting your bedtime. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night, the National Sleep Foundation confirms. Catch up on Watchmenepisodes over the weekend.

Breathe s-l-o-w-l-y. Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have identified a group of nerve cells in the brain stem that “spy” on our respiratory rate. These cerebral sentinels relay messages to the locus coeruleus, a structure that drives brainwide arousal, including stress and panic. Slow, controlled breathing signals to your nervous system that all is well, which triggers tranquility, even if you’re faking it until you make it.

Push “play.” Remember how you felt when you listened to your favorite songs? Play them when you need a pick-me-up. Listening to music is a low-risk way to try to improve your mood.

Dance it out. When you dance, you can not only get the potential mood boost that music can bring, but also the benefits from actual, well, movement. So werk it all the way out.

Watch a cat video. If you’ve ever felt instantly lifted while watching a cute feline vid, you’re not alone. So why not watch one when you want a mood boost? If LOL cats aren’t your thing, feel free to tune into dogs. It’s all about what makes you smile.

Click here and Create the Good. You’ll access AARP’s volunteer portal and find an opportunity worth looking forward to. As it turns out, volunteering doesn’t just help others, it can also help lower stress and help you feel “the happiness effect.”

Seek out sunlight. A lack of light can result in decreased serotonin (a hormone associated with boosting mood), so get outside. Just wear sunscreen, as the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. (Yes, even our skin.) And tell your health care provider if you’ve been feeling more down during winter months; seasonal affective disorder is real and can be treated, including with a light therapy box.

Smile. Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a 2019 paper published in Psychological Bulletin. Scientists report there’s more to learn on this topic, but as we wait, consider a smile instead of a frown the next time you want to fight in-the-moment crankiness.

Now, keep in mind that these tricks and tips can help you in those moments that threaten to work your last nerve. But chronic moodiness can require a different kind of self-care. People can feel irritable for many reasons, ranging from stress and anxiety to depression and bipolar disorder. There can be physical causes, too, including everything from a lack of sleep (you’ve probably been there) to low blood sugar.

If you’re feeling irritated regularly and don’t know why, speak with your health care provider, who can pinpoint the cause and suggest treatments and strategies to cope.