How to Feel Better Right Now

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

Everyone has times when they don’t feel their best. Whether you are struggling with a low mood, anxiety, stress, or just a lack of motivation, it’s tough to feel good when you’re not quite at 100%. 

When you are feeling down or stressed, it can be helpful to look for things you can do to make yourself feel better quickly. While there are things that are simply outside of your control, there are lots of actionable steps you can take to seize control and feel better right now. 

Take a Break

Sometimes just walking away from something for a few minutes can help when you’re feeling stressed, overworked, burned out, or exhausted. Step away from what you are working on and give yourself some time to think about something else. 

Researchers have found that even taking short breaks can help improve your ability to pay attention.

One study compared people who took a short, five-minute break to those who did not get a break. Those who took a break engaged in a variety of activities including listening to music and sitting quietly. The results showed that those who had taken a break performed better on tasks that required sustained attention.

Go for a Walk

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults over the age of 18 get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Getting out and moving for a little more than 20 minutes a day is not only good for your physical health and longevity, it's also a great way to feel better in the here and now.

Physical activity is linked to reductions in depression and improved mood, so a quick walk around the neighborhood can be a good way to start feeling better right away.

In addition to reaping the benefits of exercise, being outside in nature can also provide mental health benefits as well. One study found that participants who spent time walking in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination. So if you want to clear your head and feel better, head for the nearest green space such as a park or nature trail.

Crank Up the Music

Listening to music can be an enjoyable experience, but there is also evidence that music has psychological benefits including having an influence on your moods. One 2013 study found that listening to upbeat songs could improve happiness and boost mood relatively quickly.

The next time you're feeling down, break out your favorite playlist of catchy, upbeat, motivational music for a quick mood boost.

Do Something Nice for Someone Else

Helping others, often referred to as prosocial behaviors, can also be a great way to feel better right now. Whether it's helping out a neighbor, assisting a friend, or volunteering for a local organization, doing good for others can leave you with positive emotions that researchers have dubbed a "warm glow." 

If you are looking for a way to generate some good feelings, think about things that you can do to help you friends, family, neighbors, or community. A few ideas you might want to explore include:

  • Fixing a meal for a friend in need
  • Shoveling a sidewalk for an elderly neighbor
  • Participating in a neighborhood cleanup
  • Making a donation to an online fundraiser

Research even suggests that prosocial behaviors and generosity are linked to a number of mental health benefits including increased happiness and decreased mortality.

Talk to a Friend

When you are feeling stuck in a negative mindset, sometimes just spending a few minutes chatting or texting with a good friend is enough to put you in a better state of mind. Social support is a key factor in emotional well-being. Research has found that lack of social support is linked to a number of negative outcomes including increased loneliness and decreased resilience to stress.

The good news, however, is that social support is more about quality rather than quantity. As long as you feel like you have people you are close to and who will stand by you, then you can reap the rewards of social support.

When you want to feel better fast, reach out to a close friend or loved one who can listen, offer advice, or just share some laughs. 

Plan Something

According to one study, researchers found that people who are able to balance living in the here and now with planning for the future are more resistant to negative moods and resilient in the face of stress. The study looked at two different ways of managing stress: mindfulness and proactive coping.

Mindfulness involves living in the moment, while proactive coping involves planning for things as a way to minimize future stress. The results showed that making plans for the future was helpful for managing daily stress, but it was best used when coupled with living in the present.

Such findings suggest that it's important to find joy in the moment, but that when you are struggling to cope, thinking about things that you want to do in the future can help you manage difficult feelings and stressful moments.

Simple Ways to Feel Better Fast

  • Bake cookies
  • Dance
  • Do yoga
  • Eat a healthy, delicious meal
  • Make a playlist of your favorite songs
  • Meditate
  • Play with your dog
  • Practice a hobby
  • Read a book
  • Take a relaxing hot bath
  • Watch a funny online video
  • Watch your favorite movie or tv show
  • Write in a gratitude journal

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares a way to boost your mood when you're feeling down.

Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts

A Word From Verywell

Everyone faces moments when they are feeling stressed, unmotivated, or unhappy. There are many different ways to feel better, but it is important to figure out what works best for you.

Some people might find that a brisk walk around the block is enough to pull them out of a bad mood, while others may be best served by spending some time volunteering to help others or planning something (such as a vacation or event) that they can look forward to.

8 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Bratman GN, Hamilton JP, Hahn KS, Daily GC, Gross JJ. Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activationProc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015;112(28):8567-8572.

  4. Park SQ, Kahnt T, Dogan A, Strang S, Fehr E, Tobler PN. A neural link between generosity and happinessNat Commun. 2017;8(1):15964. doi:10.1038/ncomms15964

  5. Poulin MJ, Brown SL, Dillard AJ, Smith DM. Giving to others and the association between stress and mortalityAm J Public Health. 2013;103(9):1649-1655. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300876

  6. Harandi TF, Taghinasab MM, Nayeri TD. The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis. Electron Physician. 2017;9(9):5212-5222. doi:10.19082/5212

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By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.