They say that money can’t buy you happiness, but can happiness be achieved without spending cash? Thankfully, the answer is yes. There are a number of things you can do to improve your mood either in the short-term or over the long term that won’t poke any holes in your wallet.
Here are five ways to be happier without spending any money. There’s a bonus: you get to have fun, for free.
1. Get outside
Humans are meant to spend time outdoors. Don’t deprive yourself of that luxury just because you’re too busy to feel the wind in your face or listen to the birds chirp. A lot of things you would normally do inside, like watch TV or listen to music or read a book, you can do outside, too.
Fresh air is good for your lungs and for your brain. Moving away from your living room, kitchen or home office also moves you further away from some of the most common sources of stress in your life. Just fifteen minutes outside can improve your mood and make you feel much happier no matter what else is going on in your life.
It doesn’t matter what you do outside: just go. Take a walk, plant some flowers, just sit in the shade and read a book. Breathe in some of that fresh air and get away from your stress for a little while. If the sun is out, you might even be able to soak up some much needed vitamin D.
2. Declutter your possessions
Have you ever walked into a room, looked around and felt overwhelmed just because there was too much clutter? Having a lot of “stuff” doesn’t make us happy. In fact, you might actually feel a lot better once you get rid of some of the things you don’t really need to keep around.
One effective and completely free way to increase your overall happiness is to go on a decluttering spree. You don’t know how good it feels to free yourself of items you don’t need until you’ve done it. Be careful, though—once you start getting rid of stuff, you might find it hard to stop.
If we can walk into rooms and feel overwhelmed, getting rid of possessions in bulk must be even more stressful, right? It doesn’t have to be. Start your decluttering journey by getting rid of just one item at a time. Or spend about 15 minutes every day going through your home and collecting things to give away.
3. Listen to music
If you have ever felt pretty lousy, but perked up significantly after blasting the radio on the car ride home, you already know the kind of effect music can have on your mood. It isn’t just the words or the beat that make us feel happier, but the emotion carried through the songs as well.
Listening to music can make you feel better when you’re feeling down and improve your mood even more when you’re already feeling okay. It also has the potential to change the way you look at certain situations, which could alter your perspective and lead to much more positive thinking.
Create a playlist of upbeat tunes to fill your ears with the next time you want to feel happier. You can even choose specific songs that you know always put you in a better mood. This can become a vital mood-boosting tool if you come to expect the music to make you feel good even before you turn it on.
You are much better off volunteering your time than your money. It’s easy to hit that donate button on a charity’s website and type in a bunch of numbers, but that’s nothing compared to the satisfaction and fulfillment you might feel after spending a few hours doing hands-on work in support of a cause.
Volunteering gets you out of your house, and sometimes even a little out of your comfort zone, and connects you with people you probably have never met before. There are always new experiences to be had when you put yourself in new places with new people, and this alone can make your happiness soar.
Get out there and volunteer. Do something good for someone else just because you can. Find a charity organization that supports a cause you really care about and see if they have any local volunteering opportunities. Volunteering doesn’t cost you anything, and you will gain much more value in return.
Working out is a scientifically proven method for boosting your mood. Even better, the effects exercise has on our moods last for hours after we’re done sweating. When we work out, we become energized, our brains release chemicals that make us happier and we become less stressed. Whatever your excuse has been up to this point, drop it.
Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your day three or four days per week to start. Choose a form of exercise that is pleasing to you, like riding your bike or swimming or ice skating. Another way exercise can make us happier is when the activity we’re engaging in is one we actually enjoy.
You don’t have to purchase a gym membership or buy your own equipment to establish a solid workout routine. Simple exercises like crunches, wall sits, planks and jumping jacks can be just as effective at getting your heart and hormones pumping. You can also download the free 7 Minute Workout app, which guides you through—you guessed it—seven minutes of physical activity daily.
Happiness can be achieved by doing the smallest things. Change really is beneficial to your overall mental health. It can be as simple as spending more time outside and as thrilling as getting rid of items you don’t need. You can blast your favorite tunes, donate your time to a great cause or sweat out your frustrations. Any little thing you do can make a difference, and at no negative cost to you.