“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We’ve heard this saying many times before, but staying happy (and sane!) despite how stressful life can get is not easy. Thankfully, there are simple ways to slay stress and boost your mood—and we’ve collected seven of our faves here. Read on for more happy vibes.


Smile

Need an instant way to feel better? Smile! It’s a simple act that delivers big benefits: Smiling can boost your mood, relieve stress, and even make you more attractive. But what if smiling is the last thing you want to do (especially when you’re stuck in a very stressful situation)? Well, try to force it. Studies have shown that forcing a smile can genuinely decrease your stress level. So whether you’re running late for a date or a client is being too demanding, just flash your pearly whites and start calming yourself down.

Take care of your body
You know that feeling of looking in the mirror after months of exercise and seeing good results? That’s how it feels to get a boost in your confidence and self-esteem. When you take care of your body and achieve a fitness goal, you automatically feel good about yourself. Being active also releases dopamine and endorphins—happy chemicals that have a positive effect on your brain and mood.

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Count your blessings, not burdens
Being thankful can actually make you feel better and happier. Showing gratitude and counting your blessings are actually forms of positive life experiences, and teach you to appreciate the things you have, instead of wallowing about the things you want and can’t have. Start by making a list of the things and people you are grateful for. You can even put up a “gratitude board” as a simple reminder of all the blessings you have or start a gratitude scrapbook so you can look back at your life’s major milestones. Click here for more ideas.


Don’t overthink

Sometimes, overthinking creates problems that were not even there in the first place. It may even lead to depression, as per recent studies. So before you start mumbling to yourself about things that you shouldn’t be worried about, take a deep breath and clear your mind of the negative thoughts, you can even distract yourself by doing something you love—whether a hobby or a sport.

Be optimistic
Starting your morning on a positive note sets a positive tone for the rest of your day, decreases anxiety, and allows you to face any crisis with strength and resolve. Also, being optimistic can encourage others too see the brighter side of life.

Learn to forgive
Forgive and forget. Carrying a burden or grudge against someone will only consume you. And research backs this up: Studies show that people who don’t know the art of forgiveness tend to be hateful, vengeful, and hostile.


Create strong friendships

Knowing someone has got your back no matter what is something that will ease your mind. There’s nothing quite like having a group of friends who will cheer you on and act as shoulders to cry on when things get rough. And what if Mr. Right still hasn’t come along? No problem. Your best buds will be there to fill you emotionally, too.

Flashbox photo: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Warner Bros. (2005)

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