6 Free Ways to Boost Your Mood

Remove the barriers to feeling better.

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While financial circumstances can be limiting, research shows that merely having a higher income doesn't make people happier.

In fact, there are plenty of things you can do to be happier and live a more satisfying life – and fortunately, they don't cost a thing. Here's a look at six happiness-boosting behaviors that are totally free, no matter where in the world you find yourself.

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1. Get Moving

Now, we don't mean expensive gym memberships or personal trainers. Lace up your sneaks for a run through a park or try self-guided yoga at home, as the American Psychological Association says exercise helps your brain cope better with stress. Even a good old-fashioned stroll will work.

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2. Take It Outside

It's that simple. Just being in green and natural environments can boost happiness, according to research done by professors at United Kingdom's University of Sussex and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Take your lunch break outdoors, or go for a quick walk first thing in the morning.

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3. Get More Sleep

You know you're not yourself when you're tired, but even partial sleep deprivation can have a major effect on mood, says Harvard Medical School's Division of Sleep MedicineSleep is essential to living your best, healthiest life.

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4. Nurture Those Family Ties

People from across the globe have been telling us that family is the number one thing that fulfills them. And surveys like the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index show that fulltime workers experience more happiness when they spend time with family and friends (who are often are family to many of us). So set aside time every day or week to reconnect to relieve stress and improve your mood.

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5. Brighten Your Day With a Smile

You smile when you're happy of course — but did you know that smiling can actually make you happy? According to UCLA neuroscientist and author Alex Korb, PhD, mimicking emotions with the body, like smiling, can trick the brain into feeling that way, too. It's called "facial feedback" — and it's infectious, boosting the moods of those around you, as well. That's something worth spreading around.

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6. Give the Gift of You

As we've been asking people across the globe what one thing makes them feel most fulfilled, giving is consistently one of the top three answers. Scientific research tells us that when we share with others, we in turn get real mental and physical benefits. Giving makes us happy — and that's because the brain's "pleasure circuits" that regulate emotional responses and make us feel good are engaged when we do it. And it doesn't have to involve money or things — offering our time, expertise and attention can be far more valuable. Apparently, generosity is the gift that keeps on giving, long after the holidays are history.