9 free ways to boost your happiness

posted by in Budgeting

There are times when we feel like we could do with a boost but can be hard to know exactly what to do to make ourselves feel better. It’s even harder to know how to increase your happiness if you don’t have spare cash.

Don’t worry though, there are plenty of ways to feel happy without having to spend a pound.

1.  Get some exercise

woman on bicycleDoes the idea of exercise fill you with a sense of dread? Me too, but I usually feel pretty good about myself after I’ve done it. Scientific research on exercise suggests the endorphin our brains release during exercise do all sorts of nice things for us, like reducing pain and can also be associated with feelings of euphoria.

If finishing a run gives you a feeling similar to the end of the training montage in Rocky then that happy feeling is the chemicals in your brain giving you a boost!

Have you ever heard the expression ‘do the worst first?’. If you, like most people (and me), hate exercise, doing it first thing in the morning means that you get it out of the way rather than spend the whole day dreading it. Your body will immediately begin to burn calories, and you may feel more cheerful earlier thanks to happiness-boosting endorphin hormones.

Worried that exercise will cost you money? We’ve got an article about how to get fit for free.

2.  Spend time with people that you love

Hugging couple on a windy daySpending time with the friends and family is a quick way to improve your happiness, at least according to happiness expert (yep – that’s a job!) Daniel Gilbert.

Research by the Journal of Socio-Economics says that increasing your levels of social involvement can make the same difference as an £85,000 a year income boost. Personally I’d take the money instead of sitting through another round of my dad’s jokes but the perhaps I should just trust the research.

On a similar note, research suggests that hanging around with happy people can make you 15.3% more likely to be happy, which seems like a very specific amount. So spending time with the most chirpy people can help you to feel the same way.

3.  Plan your dream holiday

Lady meditating on beachHolidays are fun, so it’s no surprise that they can help with happiness, but they’re also expensive. The good news is that a journal called Applied Research in Quality of Life found that the planning stage of holidays can actually be the most enjoyable, even if you don’t take the trip.

What’s the point of that, you may ask? Well, there’s a popular belief that setting goals can be good for your brain and overall wellbeing. Simply planning for a holiday that you mightn’t take for five, ten, maybe even twenty years can still give your brain something to work towards and aspire to.

4.  Smile!

smiling ladySmiling and happiness are obviously linked; we all know that if we’re feeling good we’re likely to walk around with a big cheesy grin plastered across our faces. You may not know that smiling isn’t just a symptom of happiness, it can actually increase your happiness too.

Research has shown that facial expressions can contribute towards our mood, as well as reflect it. Faking a smile might not change your mood if you’re feeling completely miserable but it does seem to be capable of improving your happiness levels a little bit.

5.  Guzzle water

cat having a drinkIt’s fairly common knowledge that not drinking enough water can affect your performance but did you know that it can also affect your mood?

Researchers for the US Department of Agriculture found that dehydration can affect your mood. So having a big glass of water is a quick and easy way to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind.

 

6.  Get a hobby

lady taking photograph on holidayIf you’ve got a busy life it can be tempting to collapse in front of the TV whenever you get a spare minute to yourself. However, having a hobby can lead to an improved sense of wellbeing, so rather than watching another repeat of Friends you might want to consider taking up a new hobby.

I know, I know, hobbies can be very expensive. Don’t worry, we’ve already thought of this and have an article all about hobbies that won’t cost you a fortune.

7.  Be nice to someone else

Laughing mum and daughterI know this article is about making you feel happier, not other people, but it seems that giving your time to other people can boost your own feelings of wellbeing.

This doesn’t have to cost any money either. Maybe you could mow the lawn of an elderly neighbour or babysit for a friend. Whatever it is, doing something for someone else could have the wonderful side effect of helping you out.

8.  Wear something yellow

lady in yellowIf you’re like me and the rest of the MoneyAware team, your wardrobe probably looks like 50 shades of grey, and I don’t mean the saucy book series (!).

Next time you plan an outfit or buy new clothes, try and work some yellow into the mix. You might look a bit like Big Bird from Sesame Street but it could make you feel happier.

Scientists have found that happy people tend to prefer yellow, as it’s a colour that they subconsciously associate with an elevated mood. It makes sense if you think about it; the sun’s yellow, many flowers are yellow, Big Bird is yellow, and he’s definitely made a lot of people happy over the years.

There’s no guarantees that wearing yellow might make you feel happier, but it’s worth a shot. If nothing else you’ll be wearing a nice cheerful colour!

9.  Get older

Elderly couple shoppingThis is a tip that you can’t avoid doing. Unless you’ve invented a time-travelling device you’re going to get older. You might feel sad about the passing of time and the ageing process but there’s some good news too.

We tend to get happier as we get older. Older people regulate their emotions better and usually see things in a more positive light. So just by continuing to exist for another year you’ve a good chance of feeling happier about your life.

For more happiness and wellbeing tips, visit Action for Happiness and find out how you can inject more good vibrations into your life. 

Do you have any simple techniques you use to make yourself feel happier? Pop them in the comments below!

Hopefully this article has provided you with some fun and free ways to give your happiness a boost. However, if you feel unhappy and have done for a while, it’s important to seek help. Speak to your doctor or get in touch with Samaritans.

At StepChange Debt Charity we want you to be free of debt and save money.

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