It can often be hard to hear about a friend or family member having a rough day. It’s hard to know what you can do to cheer them up, let alone what to say.

Using these science-backed ways to help people having a bad day, you can quickly turn their day around. Whether it’s sending them their favorite funny video or changing up the tunes, these 15 ways eliminate all the guesswork in turning a bad day around.

Visit an animal shelter together

Snuggling with animals for just 15 minutes is said to release hormones like prolactin, oxytocin and serotonin. It also lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Whether your friend is a cat person or dog person, the effects are the same. Visit your local shelter together to find some furry friends to snuggle with.

Take them for a walk

A change in scenery and some light exercise can quickly improve your mood. If your friend has been sitting down at work all day, standing up and walking around helps move the blood away from larger muscles, where it flows when people are upset or angry. Exercise also releases endorphins, which help calm people down.

Additionally, the fresh air and sunshine can help reduce stress levels and boost serotonin. Even if you and a friend don’t have time to step outside, consider standing up to stretch your legs or looking at photos of greenery. It may seem silly, but researchers have found that even photos of nature help reduce stress!

Send them something yellow


Tap into color psychology and break out some yellow. Yellow is associated with optimism and positivity, so making a small change like suggesting your friend switch their desktop wallpaper to something yellow and bright can quickly turn their mood around. If they aren’t convinced, send them a bright yellow image or have yellow flowers delivered to them.

Do a random act of kindness together


Doing a random act of kindness helps take the focus off of you and why you’re having a bad day and turns the attention to someone else. Studies have shown that doing good deeds increases your positive emotions. It can be as simple as sending someone a handwritten thank you note or buying the stranger in line a cup of coffee. So, if you see a friend having a bad day, pay some kindness forward and encourage them to do the same!

Start a gratitude list together


Have your friend write down all the things they are grateful for and keep it in a journal. If you want, you can do it together to help them start out. Do this every time either of you have a bad day and you’ll quickly find that all the different things you are grateful for—both big and small—greatly diminishes what’s contributing to the bad day you’re having.

Give them dark chocolate

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Dark chocolate has mood-boosting benefits thanks to resveratrol, a chemical that produces serotonin and endorphins. Though you should really only have 1–2 pieces per day for health purposes, consider buying a bag of your favorite dark chocolates to keep on hand to give to a friend in need. Or, if they’re having an especially bad day, treat your friend to something more decadent, like dipped strawberries.

Treat them to something they love


Help someone having a bad day by surprising them with their favorite activity. Pick something that engages their senses, like a pedicure that includes a foot massage or their favorite type of food. It will not only take their mind off their day, but help them relax.

Listen to music together


A cheerful song may seem like the perfect pick-me-up, but studies have shown that binaural beats can help change your mood from bad to good. Search the web and send your friend some binaural beats to improve their mood, or if you’re together play them out loud.

Take a quick nap


If your friend or loved one has had a rough day, encourage them to take a nap. You can always offer to call and wake them up if they’re worried they’ll sleep too long. A quick 20-minute nap is said to improve alertness and motor functions, while a 30–60 minute one can aid creativity and productivity. Plus, when your friend wakes up, they’ll feel refreshed and more confident in tackling their bad day!

Meditate together


With so many mindfulness and meditation apps available, you and your friend can jump into a quick meditation session instantly. Meditation is shown to help with long-term focus and mindfulness, and even just two minutes a day can help your friend clear their mind and refocus, perfect for a bad day at work. Have more time? Take your friend to a meditation class!

Talk it out


Sometimes all someone suffering a bad day needs is someone to talk to. As soon as you hear your friend is having a bad day, give them a call and tell them you’re all ears. If they’re at work or busy, schedule time for a coffee break together later in the day or encourage them to vent their feelings in a lengthy text message. They’ll feel much better venting everything!

Send them a funny video


A quick laugh releases endorphins and is enough to turn any bad day around. Keep a list of your most laughable moments with your friend or family member and send it to them whenever they’re feeling down or having a bad day. It can be something you both laughed over together or something new you found you know will make them smile.

Use aromatherapy

Scents like vanilla bean and clementine are shown to boost happiness. If you or your friend has an essential oil diffuser, keep scents like these on hand for a quick mood boost. Otherwise, you can always surprise them with a candle. The gift—and the scent—will quickly improve their day!

Write it down


Writing down emotions is often said to help people better deal with them. Slip your friend a sheet of paper or buy them a pretty journal and have them write down their thoughts. Studies have shown that when people write down their emotions, the issues become graspable and easier to deal with.

Embrace the bad day together


Sometimes your friend may be experiencing a bad enough day that they just need to embrace it. Often accepting the state of the day makes the negative perception go away faster. Let your friend know it’s okay to have a bad day and offer to stay by their side until they feel better. Sometimes just embracing emotions is enough to cheer them up!

Of course, you don’t have to stick to just one of these ways to help someone having a bad day. The more ways you help them out the better! Order them dipped strawberries and enjoy them while you get pedicures and listen to relaxing music. Talk about the ultimate pick-me-up!


Health | Biomed Central | NCBI | Psychologist World | Psych Central | Harvard | Washington | Oxford Academic | Binaural Beats Meditation | Huffington Post