5 Surprising Ways to Feel Better

woman gardening

Feeling good can be a choice. A good place to start is to make a commitment to being proactive in your life when it comes to feeling well, satisfied, relaxed, and fulfilled rather than just reactive to the good and bad things that happen to you.

The next step is to find things that you can do regularly and relatively easily that make you feel good. Think of an imaginary tool belt for feeling better. The more tools you have to reach for throughout your busy life, the easier it will be to honor your commitment to wellness.

Here are few possibilities that might work for you:

Watch a Tragic Movie: It might sound counterintuitive, but researchers have found that movies about big tragedies, like Titanic for example, actually cause many people to feel happier. It’s speculated that happiness is increased because these kinds of tragic films cause us to think more about our own close relationships, increases gratitude for them, and subsequently increases life happiness.

Chew Gum: Research has found that chewing sugar-free gum for one hour in the morning was associated with increased energy, mood, and even eating less throughout the day.

Reap What You Sow: Research has revealed that it’s quite easy to get both physical and emotional health rewards from gardening. As little as five minutes of “green activity” was found to lead to significant improvements in both physical and emotional health, especially for younger women. A green activity is anything that brings you into contact with nature. Being active in green areas with water, or both “green and blue,” is associated with even greater health benefits. As we age, those who garden have also been found to feel like they have more energy, have greater general life satisfaction, are more physically active, and are even more likely to have significantly better nutritional habits due to higher consumption of vegetables – and not just those who grow their own vegetables.

Forget Being “Balanced”: The often-cited concept of “balance” can definitely result in negative effects for some people, including feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and undue pressure. When balance is perceived as lacking, it can also undermine self-confidence, and positive self-perception. The notion of balance is actually primarily totally subjective, and there are no commonly accepted parameters of what “balanced’ actually looks like. This can increase the likelihood of judgment and comparison to others, which can quickly become a slippery slope to insecurity and negative self-judgment. Instead, try thinking in more concrete and specific terms, like your level of satisfaction and fulfillment. This can help reduce the likelihood of these kinds of negativistic thoughts and self-judgments.

Do Something Philanthropic: Giving with the intent to help others (as in philanthropic activities) and altruism in general has long been associated with positive effects, both psychological and physical. Some of the specific positive effects that have been associated with giving include improvements in immune function, decreased depressive symptoms, increased rates of physical healing, and better outcomes for alcoholism to name just a few.