5 ways to boost your mood in under 5 minutes

With the cold, dark winter nights drawing in and the current cost of living crisis, I’m seeing an increasing number of clients struggling with low mood and anxiety. 


So, in this article, I share a few simple, actionable ways to improve your mood – and the good news is that they can all be done in under five minutes! 

Before I begin, I just want to clarify that these activities aren’t about pretending that everything's fine or not allowing yourself to have real, negative/difficult feelings. Having a whole rainbow of emotions is a normal, healthy part of life – and it’s understandable that you may be feeling anxious, confused, upset or angry about the current climate.

This article is about realising that there are small, simple things you can do to take control and improve your mood. All activities are based on proven positive psychology research about what works to help people cope, flourish and enjoy life, even when things are tough.

1. Tune into gratitude

Gratitude means being appreciative and thankful for the positives in your life. It’s not about denying or ignoring difficult things, but rather noticing and tuning into the good things as well.

We have a natural negativity bias which means our brains automatically focus on negative information and events much more than positive. By being grateful, we can find a more balanced viewpoint and remind ourselves of things that are positive and going well.

To tune into your gratitude, simply think of two or three things you’re grateful for. These can be anything, large or small, such as wearing a favourite jumper, enjoying a nice cup of tea, or knowing you have a loving family.

2. Do something kind

Being kind to others has huge benefits. It helps to take our minds off our own problems and worries, as well as boosting happy chemicals in the brain. Kindness has even been shown to have physical benefits, including slowing down ageing and improving heart function!

There are lots of ways to be kind that are quick, free and can fit easily into our daily lives. Try letting someone go in front of you in the supermarket queue, giving some kind words, or sharing your knowledge, and see if this impacts your mood.

3. Go for a walk

Going for a walk is mood-boosting on many levels. Being outside has both physical and emotional health benefits, increasing positive emotions and decreasing the body’s physiological stress response.

Being physically active is also well-known for improving mood, and engaging your senses in nature – such as by listening to birdsong, noticing the breeze against your skin, or enjoying the sound of crunching leaves beneath your skin – can help you forget your worries and tune into the present moment.

A simple five minute walk around the block is often all that’s needed to clear your head and help you feel better.

4. Connect with others

Connecting with others can not only improve our mood, but also help us feel less alone and see things from different perspectives.

Whilst reaching out for support and sharing your feelings can be invaluable, there are also lots of other ways to have positive connections with others. For example, you could ask a friend how their day is going, smile at a stranger, or call someone you don’t often speak to.

5. Feel a sense of achievement

Achievement is known to boost well-being and reduce depression. It also increases levels of dopamine in the brain – an important neurotransmitter which is responsible for feelings of reward, satisfaction and motivation.

We often think of achievements as needing to be big, such as cleaning the whole house. But you can gain a sense of accomplishment from even small activities which only take a few minutes, like putting clothes back into the wardrobe, sending an email, or even reading this article.

When you complete your activity, simply take a moment to notice and congratulate yourself on your achievement – and enjoy the positive feelings of accomplishment!

Good luck with these rapid, mood-boosting activities – I hope they make a difference for you. Feel free to contact me to let me know how you get on or if you have any suggestions to add to this list.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX26
Written by Laura Duester, Psychotherapist/Counsellor, PNCPS (Acc.)
Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX26

Laura Duester is a qualified counsellor/psychotherapist (accredited by the National Counselling Society) and certified Happiness Facilitator (trained by the Museum of Happiness). She runs LD Therapy, providing one-to-one counselling sessions online and in Bicester, Oxfordshire (OX26).

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