We all feel down from time to time. Whether you’re going through a rough patch or you’re just stressed with work, it’s easy to feel blue. Luckily, there are some natural ways to boost your mood and help you to get back to your usual happy self. Flick through them below.

Spend time with furry friends

If you’ve ever been looking for an excuse to welcome a furry friend to your home, now’s your chance! Playing with and petting cats and dogs can help to release feel-good hormones in your body, known as serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and lower your body’s stress levels. Plus, having a dog means that you’ll need to take him on regular walks, helping you to get out of the house and do some exercise – both known to make you happier.

Sleep well

While there's a lot to be learned about the connection between sleep and depression, you'll feel much better if you're well rested. Try to go to bed at a sensible time on an evening, and restrict access to your smartphone to reduce the impact of blue light exposure. You should also avoid any intense television shows, like crime dramas or horrors, and instead chill out in front of a comedy or a good book. Doing so will make it much easier to get to sleep.

Let your creativity run wild

Grab a paintbrush or pencil and let your creativity run wild. When Boston College students took part in a study on happiness, they found that they became happier when they could distract themselves by taking part in arts and crafts activities. How you choose to express yourself is up to you – perhaps you could paint a picture or start writing your own romantic novel? The possibilities are endless, and will allow you to become a happier, more rounded person.

Wake up to the sunshine

Some researchers suggest that exposure to sunlight when you wake up can help you to feel happier and give you a more positive outlook on life. Open your curtains and blinds when you get out of bed and consider opening your windows to let in some fresh air, too. Oh, and spending time outside will also help you to release happy endorphins – exposure to sunlight can boost your mood, so why not leave the car at home and walk to work?

Eat some chocolate

Yes, you did read that correctly. We really are suggesting that you head to the supermarket and stock up on tasty treats. Most chocolate bars contain a chemical called tryptophan, which is known to release serotonin in the brain, a hormone that can lift our spirits and make us feel happy. It’s even reported that the smell and texture of chocolate is enough to make us happy, so reach for your favorite bar and don’t hold back.

Touch somebody

Spending time with your loved ones is a great way of boosting your mood and helping you to feel more human, but physically touching them can release uplifting endorphins that reduce blood pressure and make you feel more relaxed. So go on – hold your partner's hand, give your mom a hug and don't be afraid of being touchy feely.

Do some exercise

We know. When you’re not feeling yourself, you don’t always want to head outside on a jog, but moving your body and doing some exercise can be great for your mental health. Taking part in 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three or four times a week not only helps you to stay fit and lose weight, but it also releases endorphins and helps to boost your mood.

Cut back on the drink

If you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you should do is make yourself feel worse by consuming alcohol. Both drinking and taking drugs can disturb your brain chemistry, making you feel worse when their effects wear off. So, when your friends ask you if you'd like to hang out on an evening, you may wish to politely refuse or suggest an alternative to painting the town red.

Maintain your daily routine

Even when you’re feeling down, sticking to your usual routine will help you to maintain a sense of normality and keep you on the straight and narrow. Stick to what you’re used to, whether that’s heading to work or spending the afternoon cleaning your apartment, and you’ll soon feel like you’re on the road to recovery.

Lose weight

If you have a BMI of more than 25, consider losing weight. The 2010 Archives of General Psychiatry study shows that obesity and depression go hand in hand, so maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and keeping the weight off should make you feel better. 

There you have it – 10 natural ways to boost your mood. Remember that depression is common and that you’re not alone – more than 16 million Americans suffer from it every single year. Please consult with your doctor if you require any additional support.