5 Instant Mood Boosters

Discover five ways to instantly boost your mood and uplift your spirits.

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Need a boost? Here are five quick (evidence-based) fixes (mood boosters!) for when you’re feeling down.

(Click here for additional tips to improve mood and reduce stress.)


5 INSTANT MOOD BOOSTERS

Listen to music

Turn on the radio or search for your favorite song on YouTube. Music can evoke a powerful emotional response. Listen to something upbeat with a positive message to boost your mood. Music activates areas in the brain that are responsible for processing emotions.

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” 

Confucius

In one study, participants who listened to upbeat music while actively trying to feel happier experienced improved mood as well as increased happiness over the next two weeks.

A 2017 study indicated that listening to your favorite songs impacts the brain circuit involved in internally focused thought, empathy, and self-awareness. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter what type of music you choose; the mood-boosting effect is consistent across genres.

Music may also play a role in restoring neuroplasticity or as a therapeutic intervention. In 2013, researchers found that listening to uplifting concertos from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was linked to enhanced cognitive functioning. An additional benefit to listening to music is improved mental alertness; memory and attention in particular may be enhanced.

Find a green space

Go hiking, find a sunny spot to sit outside, or simply open the window and listen to the sound of the rain falling. According the U.S. Forest Service, spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve mood, reduce anger/aggressiveness, and increase overall happiness. If you’re upset or frustrated, you’ll recover more quickly in a natural setting, such as a forest. Nature is a highly effective mood booster!

Alternatively, consider a stroll in the park for a boost. Researchers found that individuals with depression who took an hour-long nature walk experienced significant increases in attention and working memory when compared to individuals who walked in urban areas. Interestingly, both groups of participants experienced similar boosts in mood; walking in an urban area can be just as effective!

More recently, researchers found that people who regularly commute through natural environments (i.e. passing by trees, bodies of water, parks, etc.) reported better mental health compared to those who don’t. This association was even stronger among active commuters (walking or biking to work). If you commute through congested or urban areas, consider an alternate route, especially when you’re feeling down.

Spending time outside does more than just improve your mood. A 2018 report established a link between nature and overall wellness. Living close to nature and spending time outside reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Exposure to green space may also benefit the immune system, reduce inflammation, and increase sleep duration.

Read/view something inspiring or humorous

Do you have a favorite inspirational book or collection of poems? Do you like viewing motivational TED Talks? Do you enjoy comedy shows? Maybe you like watching videos of baby goats or flash mobs on Facebook. (I do!)

One study found that viewing cat videos boosted energy and positive emotions while decreasing negative feelings (such as anxiety, annoyance, and sadness). Internet cats = Instant mood boost. However, if cyber cats are not your thing, search around to find something enjoyable to read or watch for your happiness quick-fix.

Plan your next adventure

I’m happiest when I’m traveling the world. Unfortunately, I have limited vacation days (as well as limited funds), which means I don’t get to travel as often as I’d like. Happily, planning a trip may produce the same mood-boosting effects as going on a trip.

In 2010, researchers found that before taking a trip, vacationers were happier compared to those not planning a trip. A 2002 study indicated that people anticipating a vacation were happier with life in general and experienced more positive/pleasant feelings compared to people who weren’t. In both studies, researchers attributed happiness levels to anticipation. (The brain releases dopamine during certain activities, causing us to feel pleasure. Dopamine is also released in anticipation of a pleasurable activity.) For a mood boost, start planning!

Cuddle a pet

Spending time with your fur baby will instantly boost your mood. According to research, pets are good for your mental health. Teens undergoing treatment for drug and alcohol abuse experienced improved mood, positive affect, attentiveness, and serenity after brushing, feeding, and playing with dogs.

A 2018 study indicated that dog therapy sessions reduced stress and increased happiness and energy in college students. Earlier this year, researchers found that just 10 minutes of interaction with a pet reduced stress by significantly decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.

Other studies suggest that animal-assisted therapy reduces anxiety and loneliness and combats homesickness.

Research also indicates that pets help seniors and older adults cope with physical and mental health concerns. Dog ownership is also linked to better cardiovascular health and a longer life.

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”

Charles M. Shultz

The next time you’re having a bad day, listen to your favorite song, go hiking in the woods, watch a TED Talks, start planning your next vacation, or spend some quality time with a furry friend… you’ll feel better!

350 Ideas for Hobbies

Discover a new hobby with this diverse list of assorted leisure activities, which range from beekeeping to Kombucha brewing to knife throwing to ghost hunting.

A list of over 350 hobbies to try

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

I developed this list (with the help of Wikipedia, and Google, of course) as part of a project I was working on and thought it would be worth sharing. (Click below for a PDF version of this list.)


350 Ideas for Hobbies

Jump to a section:

Animals & Nature Hobbies

  1. Attend pet shows (or horse shows)
  2. Beekeeping
  3. Berry or apple picking
  4. Bird watching
  5. Butterfly garden (Visit one or create your own!)
  6. Butterfly watching
  7. Be a plant parent; nurture and care for indoor plants
  8. Composting
  9. Dog training
  10. Dog walking
  11. Fossil hunting
  12. Grow and tend to a fruit tree
  13. Grow an indoor herb garden
  14. Grow plants from seedlings (and plant outside when in-season)
  15. Hang humming bird feeders and then sit back and enjoy the company!
  16. Horseback riding
  17. Become an expert at identifying various plants
  18. Mushroom hunting
  19. Nature walks
  20. Adopt a pet
  21. Pet fostering
  22. Pet sitting
  23. Plant a flower bed
  24. Go on a swamp tour
  25. Tend to a vegetable garden
  26. Topiary
  27. Visit a farm
  28. Visit an aquarium
  29. Go to zoos and/or nature centers
  30. Watch wildlife on Animal Planet
  31. Go whale watching

🔝

Arts & Crafts

  1. Drawing
  2. Candle making
  3. Collages – Use whatever materials you desire!
  4. Coloring
  5. Crocheting
  6. Design your own greeting cards or stationary
  7. Flower arranging
  8. Glassblowing
  9. Jewelry making
  10. Knitting
  11. Lettering/calligraphy
  12. Mixed media art
  13. Mosaic making
  14. Origami
  15. Painting (watercolor, oils, acrylics, etc.)
  16. Paper crafts (including paper mache)
  17. Photography
  18. Pressed flower craft
  19. Pottery
  20. Quilting
  21. Scrapbooking
  22. Sculpting
  23. Sewing
  24. Sketching
  25. Soap making
  26. Weaving
  27. Wood carving

🔝

Collection Hobbies

  1. Action figures
  2. Antiques
  3. Autographs
  4. Barbies
  5. Books (classics, signed copies, etc.)
  6. Christmas tree ornaments
  7. Comics
  8. Fun socks
  9. Hot sauce from around the world
  10. Movie or music memorabilia
  11. Obsolete tech (i.e. outdated cell phones, tape players, etc.)
  12. Original artwork
  13. Plates
  14. Purses, shoes, and other accessories
  15. Recipes
  16. Records
  17. Retro video games
  18. Rocks and/or crystals
  19. Shells
  20. Souvenirs
  21. Sports memorabilia
  22. Stickers
  23. Ticket stubs
  24. Toys
  25. Vases
  26. Vintage items

🔝

Cooking & Baking

  1. Braising
  2. Bread making
  3. Cake decorating
  4. Canning
  5. Cheese making
  6. Coffee roasting
  7. Cookie decorating
  8. Grilling and BBQ
  9. Hosting dinner parties
  10. Kombucha brewing
  11. Learn ethnic and regional recipes
  12. Learn recipes from cooking shows
  13. Make “fun foods” for kids
  14. Make homemade ice cream
  15. Make jam or jelly
  16. Make your own beef (or vegan!) jerky
  17. Participate in competitive food festivals (or just go and enjoy the food!)
  18. Pasta making
  19. Pastry and confection making
  20. Pickling
  21. Pie making
  22. Raw diet meals
  23. Recreate menu items from your favorite restaurants
  24. Reduced fat cooking
  25. Sautéing
  26. Slow cooker meals
  27. Smoothie making
  28. Soup, sauce, and stock making
  29. Sushi making
  30. Take a cooking class
  31. Tea brewing
  32. Try new recipes on a regular basis
  33. Use an air fryer
  34. Use a dehydrator
  35. Use Pinterest for inspiration
  36. Vegan cooking
  37. Watch Food Network for inspiration

🔝

Entertainment

  1. Attend movies, operas, plays, and musicals
  2. Bingo
  3. Board games and/or party games
  4. Card games
  5. Chess
  6. Strategy games
  7. Dine out at new restaurants
  8. Escape rooms
  9. Gaming
  10. Go to museums
  11. Go to poetry slams or open mic nights
  12. Jigsaw puzzles
  13. Karaoke
  14. Murder mystery shows
  15. Read entertainment/celebrity magazines
  16. See your favorite bands/artists perform live
  17. Standup comedy
  18. Theme parks
  19. Watch your favorite Netflix series, but make sure you become overly invested (borderline obsessed) with the story line and characters in order for this to qualify as a legit hobby

🔝

Home Improvement & DIY

  1. Add a backsplash to your kitchen
  2. Bathroom remodel
  3. Build a shed
  4. Build furniture
  5. Design a meditation room, home office, “man cave,” or “she shed”
  6. DIY headboard
  7. Fireplace makeover
  8. Hanging shelves
  9. Home organization
  10. Install smart home technology
  11. Kitchen remodel
  12. Paint an accent wall or update your entire home
  13. Paint old cabinets
  14. Redecorate a room
  15. Stencil or wallpaper
  16. Update a closet
  17. Update furniture
  18. Update lighting
  19. Use chalk paint or metallic spray paint

🔝

Literature, Music, & Dance

  1. Acting
  2. Visit art galleries
  3. Attend literary fests
  4. Ballroom dancing
  5. Belly dancing
  6. Blogging/guest blogging
  7. Break dancing
  8. Editing
  9. Go to book signings
  10. Go to the library
  11. Join a book club (either in-person or online, i.e. Goodreads)
  12. Listen to music
  13. Play/learn an instrument
  14. Puppeteering
  15. Rapping
  16. Reading
  17. Sell your art on etsy.com
  18. Singing
  19. Song writing
  20. Submit articles/opinion pieces/essays to magazines and newspapers
  21. Swing dancing
  22. Take a dance class (swing, hip hop, ballroom, etc.)
  23. Take a drama or improv class
  24. Take voice lessons
  25. Wikipedia editing
  26. Write a book
  27. Write poetry
  28. Write short stories

🔝

Outdoor & Adventure

  1. Backpacking
  2. Boating
  3. Bungee jumping
  4. Camping
  5. Canoeing
  6. Caving
  7. Fishing
  8. Geocaching
  9. Go-Karting
  10. Hiking
  11. Hot air ballooning
  12. Kayaking
  13. Laser tag
  14. Mountain biking
  15. Mountain climbing
  16. Paintball
  17. Parasailing
  18. Rocking climbing
  19. Sailing
  20. Scuba diving
  21. Skiing
  22. Skydiving
  23. Snowboarding
  24. Snorkeling
  25. Waterskiing
  26. White water rafting
  27. Wilderness survival

🔝

Self-Improvement & Social Hobbies

  1. Advocate for a cause
  2. Attend support groups/meetings
  3. Attend workshops
  4. Bullet journaling
  5. Daily positive affirmations and/or self-reflection
  6. Join a club
  7. Join a gym
  8. Join a Meetup group
  9. Join a political campaign
  10. Journaling
  11. Keep a gratitude journal
  12. Listen to podcasts
  13. Make a vision board and update it regularly
  14. Meditation
  15. Read research
  16. Read self-improvement books
  17. Social media
  18. Stretching
  19. Take a class (i.e. self-defense, a foreign language, etc.)
  20. Use a habit tracker app
  21. Volunteer
  22. Watch documentaries
  23. Watch inspirational Ted Talks
  24. Wear a fitness tracker
  25. Yoga

🔝

Sports

  1. Archery
  2. Badminton 
  3. Baseball
  4. Basketball
  5. Biking
  6. Body building
  7. Bowling
  8. Boxing
  9. Cricket
  10. Darts
  11. Disc golf/frisbee
  12. Fencing
  13. Football/flag football
  14. Golf
  15. Gymnastics
  16. Hockey
  17. Ice skating
  18. Jogging/running
  19. Knife throwing
  20. Lacrosse
  21. Martial arts
  22. Poker
  23. Racquetball
  24. Racing
  25. Riding a unicycle
  26. Roller derby
  27. Rugby
  28. Skateboarding
  29. Soccer
  30. Surfing/body boarding
  31. Swimming
  32. Table football
  33. Table tennis
  34. Tennis
  35. Thai Chi
  36. Volleyball
  37. Weight training
  38. Wrestling

🔝

Travel

  1. Alaskan cruise
  2. All-inclusive resorts
  3. Beach vacations
  4. Caribbean cruise
  5. Cross-country train trip
  6. Explore your home town and other nearby place as though you’re a tourist
  7. Guided group tours
  8. Mediterranean cruise
  9. Road trip
  10. See the Northern Lights
  11. Travel to all the continents in the world
  12. Travel to all the states in America
  13. Trip to Las Vegas
  14. Visit the Grand Canyon
  15. Visit the New Seven Wonders of the World
  16. Visit the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World
  17. Go on city walking tours

🔝

Miscellaneous Hobbies

  1. Astrology/astronomy
  2. Billiards
  3. Couponing
  4. Creating DIY home products
  5. Fantasy sports
  6. Genealogy
  7. Ghost hunting
  8. Hair styling/braiding
  9. Hula hooping
  10. Juggling
  11. Keeping up with the latest fashions
  12. Kite flying
  13. Learning magic tricks
  14. Makeup application
  15. Metal detecting
  16. Model building
  17. People watching
  18. Storage unit auctions
  19. Sunbathing
  20. Yard sale shopping/thrifting

🔝


Note: The Wikipedia webpage, “List of Hobbies” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hobbies), was utilized as a reference for this list.