11 cheap ways to cheer yourself up when you’re blue

Are you at risk of taking yourself on a monster shopping trip when you’re feeling down in the dumps? If you’re broke the blues can be a dangerous state of mind, fatal to your poor old pocket.

Here’s a bunch of cheap ways to cheer yourself up and chase the retail therapy devils away. You can experiment with this lot the next time your life looks a bit crap and you can’t raise a smile.

  1. Get your photo albums out, or turn on your favourite gadget and lose yourself in family snaps, holiday photos and memories of great times
  2. Phone a friend, someone whose company always gives you a lift, and arrange to meet up for a chat
  3. Bear in mind that ruminating over how awful things are only makes you feel worse. Do an u-turn, force yourself to think positive thoughts and time how long it takes to crawl out from under the grey mist into the sunshine. I know… I’m such a hippy, but it works!
  4. Stroke something furry. Research has proved that playing with pets lowers blood pressure and cuts stress levels. Cats and dogs are even welcome in some hospices and care homes because they’re so good at making humans feel happier. Or get a DVD / download a virtual fish tank – for some reason, humans find watching fish incredibly relaxing too
  5. Do some virtual shopping. I’ve mentioned it before – when you shop on Ebay, try saving the things you’d love to buy in a Watch List instead of hitting the Buy Now button or bidding. It feels almost as though you’ve done the deed and spent lots of lovely cash, without actually shelling out a penny
  6. Head for the coast if you live near enough, and tramp along the seafront for a couple of hours. Or find some lovely countryside, take a brisk walk and blow away the blues. Apparently exercise delivers a nice little high
  7. Seek chocolate. The latest scientific research (reported in a recent edition of New Scientist magazine) hints that our diets might have something to do with the epidemic of allergies we’re suffering these days, and may even increase the risk of dementia. Fatty and sugary foods are the worst offenders, but there’s good news on the choc front. Dark chocolate gets the thumbs up, as do coffee and a Mediterranean-style diet. So pig out on rich, dark chocolate and feel that lovely chocolate boost
  8. Count your blessings. Grab paper and pen, get yourself a hot drink and note down all the good things in life: your health, your kids, your home, family and friends, the fact you’re having a good hair day… everything, no matter how silly
  9. Take action. If something’s bothering you, do something about it. Taking action of any sort makes you feel more in control, which is sometimes half the battle when you’re fighting feeling low. On the other hand, if you can’t do anything remind yourself there’s not much point making a big thing about it
  10. Demand some top class comedy on TV, get your laughing gear in order and forget everything for a while. You’ll emerge in better spirits
  11. Go smell flowers, whether it’s at your local park or garden centre, or in your garden. Or take advantage of the considerable power of scents in some other way – have a long, hot bath filled with oils and bubbles. Keep a supply of essential oils, first researching which are the best for lifting the spirits. Cook something delicious that smells… well, good enough to eat.  Apple pie. Cinnamon buns. A hearty, meaty casserole…