5 Easy Ways to Brighten Your Mood

For many, the change from summer to fall can mean a bit of the blues. It makes sense—daylight grows shorter, weather gets colder and time spent outdoors wanes. If you find yourself dreading the change of season or know that you can get the fall doldrums, try one of these mood-lifting activities that are cheap, easy and pretty darn fun.

Walk. It sounds too easy to be a true mood lifter, but the simple act of getting outside and putting one foot in front of the other can do wonders for one's spirit. Try taking a walk every morning; set your alarm to go off a bit earlier than normal (whatever you can do within reason'10 minutes, 40 minutes—anything works), and before even brushing your teeth, head out for a stroll. You'll be amazed at how an early walk sets a positive tone for your day. You can also use walks for mood medicine: feeling blah—take a walk.

Cook. Cooling temperatures and the abundance of harvest time lead many of us back to the kitchen. Give yourself time to enjoy the creativity and focus that cooking can bring. Find some recipes you've never made before, or pick out whatever is loveliest at the farmers' market and then find recipes for your booty. Cook to elevate your mood when you have ample time to relax and enjoy the process. Put on some good music or a favorite podcast and fall into the presence and focus required by chopping, measuring and stirring. If preparing food is a thankless chore for you, try cooking one or two things a week that are fun, like cookies or muffins. The process of cooking takes your mind off daily stressors and then rewards you with beautiful edibles.

Write. Regardless of whether you're a gifted writer or not, keeping a journal can be surprisingly therapeutic. Somehow, getting thoughts down on paper often makes your mind stop juggling them around so much. When done first thing in the morning, you can use it to set positive intentions for the day. Get yourself a cheap binder from the drugstore and a pen that feels good to write with. Avoid fancy diaries that make you feel that your prose had better be as good as the binding of the leather. Aim for one page a day and make that the only rule.

Music. It's easy to overlook the uplifting effects music can have on a glum mood. But research shows that when we listen to music, endorphins are released in the brain and elevate the mood (and reduce tension). So the next time you are feeling less than motivated, try jamming out. Today's music apps make it particularly easy. Spotify, for example, will create a playlist of songs that you like, to download and play whenever you want; consider a Beat the Blues playlist for those gray days.

Tea. Magnesium expert Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, says that low levels of magnesium can affect mood. Make a warm cup of Natural Calm and enjoy the moment.