22 Instant Happiness Fixes For the Holidays

Even though the smell of Christmas cookies and the echoes of joyful caroling may fill the air, the holidays aren't always packed with cheer. There are presents to buy, parties to attend and, in the case of students everywhere, a killer last week of finals to survive. With all of the busyness and stress that the holidays can bring, it's understandable to not feel Santa-Clause-level "jolly" 24/7.

How can you get back into the Christmas spirit – with limited time, inspiration and money? With some help from Entity Magazine (where I act as Senior Editor and this article first appeared), here are 22 instant happiness fixes that will make you feel like you can run the world, BeyoncĂ© style.

casey the college celiac

1. Throw a solo dance party.

Blast some Taylor Swift or Katy Perry and dance away those worries – but if you’re in the office (or your college dorm room), you might want to close your door and blinds first.

2. Cuddle up with a furry friend.

Not only does petting a dog or cat lower blood pressure and stress hormones like cortisol, but Psychology Today also reports that it raises oxytocin (AKA, the happiness hormone).

3. Drink it off with water.

Before you reach for that glass of wine (or another cup of coffee, for my college peeps!) consider if you’ve enjoyed at least eight glasses (or half of your body weight in ounces) of water that day. According to the Journal of Nutrition, dehydration can make women pessimistic. It doesn’t hurt that your body will feel better for it too!

(And if you need an easy way to "detox" during the holidays, use my favorite trick: starting the day with a glass of warm lemon water and apple cider vinegar.)

4. Get outside!

Whether you’re moping at home or hiding in a cubicle, sometimes a little vitamin D can offer a dose of happiness to brighten your day. Not to mention that a change in scenery can also help change your negative thoughts.

casey the college celiac
Or combine furry friends with walking!
One of the easiest - and, in my opinion, most enjoyable - ways to get outside is taking a walk. Whether you want to start the day off with a morning hike or end the night by a peaceful stroll to look at Christmas lights, walkin' the walk may help you talk the (cheerful) talk!

5. Make a mental or physical gratitude list.

According to a study by the University of California, people who think of five things that make they happy each day boosted their overall happiness and even improved their health. Psychology Today suggests blowing a kiss to the universe … but if lists are more your thang, try that!

6. Text a friend.

Even if you don’t get an immediately reply, sometimes venting to someone about your no good, horrible, rotten day (kudos to anyone who know’s the reference) is all you need.

7. Eat your favorite snack or meal.

You’ve heard about comfort food...why not indulge in your favorite snack or meal for a dose of (edible) happiness? If you want to save room for Christmas cookies later in the year, try stashing sweet but relatively healthy food (like granola bars, fruit, yogurt with granola or a throwback to Mom’s classic PB&J) nearby. And dark chocolate, of course.

casey the college celiac
Just a girl and her granola

8. Find some happy people.

While that co-worker whose always peppy at seven in the morning might seem annoying at times, she might be just the person you need to cheer up. According to Greatist, happy, calm people make their positivity contagious.

9. Get organized.

An organized house means an organized head … or, at the very least, you keep yourself busy and focus on something besides your bad day.

10. Sniff some joy.

You might have noticed that lavender and vanilla are common scents for soaps, perfumes and body oils. It’s not just a love for flowers and baking; in fact, Psychology Today reports that lavender has been shown to boost a woman’s mood, lower anxiety and reduce physical pain. As for vanilla, besides reminding you of your favorite cupcake flavor, it is often used in aromatherapy to increase happiness.

11. Get down...into downward dog.

Yoga is often praised for its physical – stretching and strengthening – benefits, as well as its mental ones. Not only could taking a few minutes to meditate clear your mind, but yoga could also help release any physical tension.

You might even be surprised what feelings a yoga session brings up. If you're not sure why you're feeling down in the dumps, a session on the mat could help you find the root of the problem...and bring you that much closer to moving past it.

casey the college celiac

12. Nap it out.

Remember babysitting kids who wouldn’t stop crying until after their nap? Sorry, but you’re not that much different. Redbook reports that 10 to 30 minute naps boost people’s short-term mood, alertness and productivity. It’s hard to frown when you’re kicking butt at office assignments or chores around the house!

13. Visit the Wimpy Goat on YouTube.

I dare you to watch (with sound) this seven-second video and not crack a grin at the end. (In fact, when anyone in my family is having a rough day, we run this video on repeat.) Watch the video and then conquer the world with the wimpy goat’s determination!

14. Lighten up...your room.

According to Psychology Today, a dark room might literally contribute to a dark mindset. So why not see if you can make your room – and your day – a little brighter? (Though Princeton Theological Seminary’s advice to buy “happy light bulbs” – 60 or 100 watt daylight bulbs – may not be necessary.)

15. Ask for a hug.

Maybe not from your boss or your teacher...but friends, family, roommates and cute guys should be fair game.

casey the college celiac
All the hugs!
16. Go green - with colors anyway.

According to Greatist, the color green symbolizes happiness (maybe Gatsby really was onto something?) and can trigger happy feelings. Rock a green jacket, add a new Leprechaun-inspired computer screen saver or even put a green apple on your desk. Soon, others might be green with envy over your good mood.

17. Root through a memory box.

Your memory box might be a beat-up cardboard box filled with old letters, high school essays, post-it-notes – anything that makes you grin. If you’re not a big clutter person, try creating a “happy” folder on your computer to store old emails from friends, pictures of special moments or bookmarks of your favorite uplifting articles. Then, when you’re feeling down, you can just click your frown away!

18. Make somebody's day.

If you think karma is about as real as the tooth fairy, you may want to check out the study from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (and maybe apologize for calling your parents cheap). According to Redbook, when people do three acts of kindness, depressive symptoms decrease by 94 percent. Tipping that cute barista never felt so good.

19. Get movin' and groovin'.

When you’re having a “Carrie”-worthy bad day, you might feel tempted to skip your three o’clock date at the gym. Strap on your sneakers instead! A Penn State study found that people tend to feel excited and enthusiastic when they exercise. If you exercise regularly, increasing the intensity of your workout may provide an extra mood boost.

casey the college celiac
That post-run photo!
Don't limit yourselves to the same workouts either. You never know how much fun - and empowering - experimenting with challenges like a Mud Run 5K or a hike up Potato Chip Rock can be!

20. Tackle the small tasks.

Life feeling overwhelming? Then take a tip from “The Happiness Project” and, if you can finish a project in one minute or less, do it! You’ll be relieved to check something of your to-do list and, even if you don’t finish any other chores, you accomplished something!

21. Build a blanket fort.

Or, to be simpler, climb under a soft blanket (though a blanket fort may be worth the effort to set it up). As Greatist explains, research has shown that snuggling under the covers can make people more relaxed and flexible. Apparently, humans are wired to feel better when touching soft surfaces … and you thought “security blankets” were just a phase.

22. Realize that you might not be happy all the time, and that's OK!

Now, of course we all want a quick fix to turn our bad days into the best days ever! But sometimes, bad things happen – family members pass away, relationships break up and you really can’t believe Christmas dinner ended in a shouting match. Experience those unhappy emotions, cry if needed and move on. With these tips in hand, a happier tomorrow - and a jollier holiday season - is almost guaranteed.

*Although I wrote this post, it first appeared at Entity Magazine. Check out my other Entity articles here!*

*Also found at Wow Me Wednesday, RunningWithSpoons, Let's Get Real, Saucy Saturdays!*

What is your favorite "happiness fix"? Do you get stressed around the holidays! Tell me below!


  1. Yes yes yes yes. Its amazing how much a single hug can do. For me I think its being around others (even though I often have to force myself to do this - I tend to isolate more in these months but always feel better after spending time with others), talking with someone (even emailing them spontaneously just to say "hi"), sitting by a sunny window, and of course... baking and eating good food. I think so much of it for me has to do with connection. Can't wait to check out your other articles! So cool!

    1. All of the things you say help definitely perk me up too! Glad you liked :) Happy New Years!

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