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30 Small Things You Can Do to Cheer Yourself Up on Hard Mental Health Days

It’s OK to be gentle with yourself. It’s OK to take time to do something completely frivolous simply because it makes you happy. It’s OK to feel upset, and it’s OK to need a little help feeling better again. Here are 30 simple ideas that you can easily do today or this week to spread a little more kindness in the world.

1. Go to your nearest thrift store. Buy the coziest, comfiest sweater you can find. Wear it for the rest of the day.

2. Do one small thing to take care of yourself — make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off, trim your hair, paint your nails or go for a run.

3. Set up a small, recurring monthly donation to a cause you feel passionately about. It doesn’t have to be large — many organizations have minimum recurring donations of just five to 10 dollars. Chances are, you won’t miss the 10 dollars a month once it becomes habit.

4. Go social media blackout, even if just for an hour or so. Take your phone, give it to a trusted friend, or hide it from yourself (for example, under that giant pile of bills you’ve been avoiding paying). Use a program like ColdTurkey if you need a little extra help keeping yourself off social media or news outlets.

5. Clean out your closet. Donate what you don’t need. If you have name brand or vintage clothes and need extra cash, consider consigning them or selling them with an app like Poshmark. Reorganize your shelves to show off the great items you already own.

6. Visit the website of your local animal shelter and browse photos of pets available for adoption.

7. If #6 isn’t enough for you, adopt one. If your significant other and/or your budget would kill you for that, sign up to become a volunteer or donate a couple bags of pet food. Some shelters will let volunteers drop by just to walk a dog whenever they have time in their schedule. If animals aren’t your thing, find another organization you can volunteer with. Even if it’s just a couple hours a month. Even if you’re intimidated to try something new. Even if.

8. If you already have a dog, take him for an extra long walk. Breathe fresh air. Let him sniff whatever the heck he wants. Marvel at the fact that he loves you even when the world sucks. Endeavor to treat other people that way.

9. Buy a pack of greeting cards. Buy a roll of stamps. Make a list of the people you care about most, worry about or miss. Tell them you love them, tell them why you love them, and tell them you’re here for them.

10. Watch an episode of BBC’s “Human Planet” or a similar show to remind yourself of the wonders of the world.

11. Buy a pair of silly, cute socks. Buy a pair for a friend while you’re at it.

12. Buy a couple of gift cards to a local coffee shop. Go to your nearest student hangout (library, cafe, etc.) and hide them for unsuspecting students who are stressed out of their minds about upcoming exams. Or, place notes of encouragement in the GRE, SAT, LSAT, MCAT, or ESL study books at your local library or bookstore.

13. Contribute books to your nearest “Little Free Library.” Don’t have one? Start your own.

14. Set aside a couple hours for that creative hobby that you love, but aren’t any good at. Paint, sing, write — let yourself enjoy an activity without worrying about how you compare to others.

15. Redouble your efforts in your studies or work. We’re going to need more people who are good at what they do.

16. Bake a cake. Put on your favorite guilty pleasure show. Eat the cake.

17. Spin a globe, or open Google Maps. Look for the most exotic-sounding place. Learn everything about that place.

18. Sign up for a free online class through a site like Coursera or FutureLearn. Start learning something you never got the chance to before.

19. Google Image search for “sloths in buckets.” Also an option: “pigs in boots,” “baby elephants” and “hedgehogs.”

20. Think of the books that influenced your life the most. Go to a local bookstore. Buy a copy of each one. Give them to a younger niece, nephew, sibling or cousin.

21. Are you prone to road rage? For the next month, vow to scream “Yankee Doodle” or a similarly nonsensical word instead of honking your horn.

22. Think of a place you’ve always wanted to go. Start planning a trip, even if all you can afford to do at the moment is look up local restaurant reviews. Make it a goal, something to look forward to.

23. Don’t give a damn about your looks. Wear your sweatpants to the grocery store. Forget the makeup. Do what feels best to you.

24. Make a cup of tea, pour a glass of wine, draw a bath or find a cozy corner – and read a good book.

25. Reach out to your friends or classmates. Tell them you’ll be at a certain coffee shop for a couple hours. Tell them if they need to talk, or just need to be together, you’ll provide a cup of coffee and an open heart.

26. Buy yourself flowers. Vacuum your floors and wash your sheets. Be grateful for your home.

27. Peruse a local farmer’s market, even if you don’t know how to cook half of the vegetables there.

28. Think about something you really enjoyed doing as a child but haven’t done in a while. Go for a hike. Sleep in late and eat Lucky Charms for breakfast. Play in the rain. Sign up for a painting class. Bake cookies. Find a used instrument on Craigslist. Buy some cheap craft supplies and go crazy.

29. Take a friend to Target or a dollar store. Set a 10 dollar limit and 10 minute time limit, and run around making gift baskets for each other.

30. If the day is done and your mind is weary, go to bed. Warm up a mug of milk. Wear your comfiest PJs. Put on soothing music. Remind yourself that you deserve the right to relax.

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Unsplash photo via Tim Arterbury