5 Surprising Happiness Tricks

Feeling down? Try these all natural moves to boost your mood big time.

Right about now, we’re guessing you could use a little pick-me-up. Unpredictable weather and the serious lack of national holidays on the horizon can be a giant bummer. And while we can’t make summer hurry up and get here any quicker, these surprising—easy!—moves can have a big impact on your happiness levels right now. Try these research-backed tips for a sunnier disposition.

1. Hit the bottle
The water bottle, that is. Being mildly dehydrated can make your mood, energy levels, and ability to think clearly plummet—especially if you’re a woman, according to a new study in The Journal of Nutrition. Your urine is a good way to gauge your hydration level: The darker it is, the more likely you’re dehydrated.
2. Move in slow-mo
Over the next five minutes, slow completely down. Make your movements deliberate while focusing your attention on being present in the moment—whether it’s feeling the warm suds on your skin while washing dishes or savoring the coffee you’re sipping. “When you live your life with your awareness engaged in the present moment and learn to be here now, you appreciate the simplest things,” says Sarah McLean, author of the new book Soul Centered. “Ordinary tasks will begin to have new dimensions and depth.”
3. Go green
People exposed to nature not only feel less stressed, but they also have lower levels of the stress-hormone cortisol in their bodies, finds a recent study from researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Take a few minutes to connect with nature by taking a quick walk during your lunch break—city parks count!—or bundle up with your honey for some after-dinner stargazing. Instead of a weekend brunch date, meet your buddy for a Sunday morning hike.
4. Show off your strengths
Take a moment to think about what you do best. Are you an empathetic listener? Excellent baker? Impressive organizer? Mildly depressed people who practiced positive activity interventions for a week—such as using one of their signature strengths in a new way or writing down three good things about their lives—reaped a boost in well-being that lasted for six months, according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Call a friend who’s going through a rough time, or bake some banana bread for your neighbor; you’ll feel better and so will the people around you.
5. Get sweaty
We know, we know: When you’re bummed out, hitting the track for 15 minutes is the last thing you want to do. But if you needed another reason to be convinced that getting some exercise really can make you feel better, try these: Study participants who did at least 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity reported higher levels of excitement, finds a new study in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. Another exercise bonus: Workers who exercise are half as likely to experience burnout as their sedentary counterparts, reports new research in the Journal of Applied Psychology.