I have a friend who teases me about my perpetual teenage-like angst. “No wonder you get published on Thought Catalog,” he said to me the other day. And perhaps he’s right. Perhaps I let teenage angst overwhelm me a little too often. I think about friends and money and deadlines and work and feelings and I sit with my knees tightly pulled to my chest, trying hard not to panic about the futility of life. But after a while, I stand up and I force a smile on my face and I feel better. No matter how overwhelmed you are, here are some easy ways to improve your mood, at least temporarily:
1. Scroll through your social media.
Spend a little time examining yourself through the rose-colored lens of social media. You’re your prettiest, wittiest and most glamorous on these platforms. How can you be despondent when you see the gorgeous, fantastic, beloved human being that everyone else gets to see? How can your mood be depleted when your life is, objectively, pretty fucking great?
2. Take yourself on a date.
Even if you do have a partner, don’t bother taking them along. Take yourself out to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Go to watch a movie starring your celebrity crush. Indulge in your favourite kind of food. Purchase a whole bottle of wine with your lunch. Bring a book along. Bring a notepad. Read. Write. Sketch. Introspect. Think of how lovely you are. Get a little drunk. When you have fun all by yourself, you remember just how lucky you actually are. You’re fantastic. The people in your life know this. It’s great to remind yourself of it too.
It isn’t that your happiness should require external validation. Don’t flirt for someone else’s sake. Don’t flirt to start a legitimate something. Flirt for yourself. Flirt to remind yourself that you can, that you’re alluring and desirable. Bat your eyes at the barista, compliment the person next to you on the bus or send your partner a seductive text message. Remind yourself that there’s a bunch of people out in the world who’d be pretty excited to bed you because you’re funny and interesting and beautiful.
4. Buy something you definitely don’t need but really want.
Be ridiculous. Be impudent. Be reckless. Swipe your credit card. Buy a pair of overpriced shoes, sunglasses, a bag, a coat, a poncho, a bowler hat. Something you’ve had your eye on for a long time but didn’t have the heart to splurge on. Walk out the store wearing the item.
5. Put full make-up on.
There’s something deeply comforting about looking like you’ve got your shit together. You may be weeping on the inside, but when you’ve got a red lip and a dramatic smoky eye going, nobody’s really gonna know. You can’t cry if there’s mascara at stake. Besides, you’re going to feel instantly more glamorous. For added points, go beyond your face, and do your nails. If you can afford to, go get them done at a salon. You’ll feel spoiled and pampered and brilliantly gorgeous.
6. Wear an outfit that makes you feel like a badass.
Whether that involves a pair of strappy stilettos or Doc Martens, a short dress or a pantsuit, put on your most badass outfit. Yes, that one. The one that springs immediately to mind. It might not be completely suited to the dress code for wherever you’re going. It could very well involve wearing sunglasses indoors. That’s all completely fine. You’re doing this for you, not for anyone else. Stop feeling down and start feeling like Olivia Pope.
7. Do a form of exercise you’re naturally good at.
If you’re a born runner, go for a jog. If you like to cycle, do that. I, personally, like to take a yoga or pilates class because I’m pretty good at those. Don’t bother attempting to convince yourself this is a sustainable lifestyle change – if you don’t go to the gym every day, this won’t necessarily form the beginning of a new habit. Exercise endorphins are going to make you feel better, and you’ll get an additional ego boost from being good at some kind of physical activity.
8. Buy coffee for someone you love.
It might be your partner, best friend, sibling or parent. Remind yourself there are people who matter to you, people who want and need you in their lives. They’ll appreciate your random act of kindness and you’re going to feel pretty good about doing something nice for a loved one. Sit with them and have a brief chat over the cup of coffee. You may not be able to take time out to spend the afternoon or day together but seeing a loved one’s smiling face is sure to put a smile on your face.
9. Talk to someone about nothing.
I’m all for unloading and ranting, but sometimes that just dampens your mood further. Sometimes the best way to improve your day is to chat to a co-worker or a casual friend about nothing in particular. Tell a few jokes. Laugh heartily. Don’t admit to feeling down. Fake it till you make it.
10. Write something.
Open a Word document and vomit something out. It could be brilliant. It could be hideous. It could be a listicle about ways to improve your mood. Read the words. Those are your thoughts. Reread them again. Acknowledge that they’re worthwhile. Smile. Publish the written something. Realize that other people feel like this too sometimes. So you know what? You’re doing just fine.