The following is a guest post from our frugal friend, Lindsay Bateman.

Even a Tip Hero can get the blues. Retail therapy will just end in buyer’s remorse. A day at the spa feels like it costs a whole week’s salary. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, because that’s, well, kind of a downer. So I started thinking of the cheap and smart ways I could elevate my spirits.

Eat One of These Mood Boosters

Indulging happily on that bowl of ice cream is the sort of instant gratification that may just leave you feeling crummier than before. I will certainly reach for the Thin Mints thinking they are the answer to my woes. Try reaching for one of these natural anti-depressants researched by Listverse.

  • Swiss Chard. Magnesium is the power nutrient here. Try this simple, sauteed Swiss Chard side dish.
  • Blue Potatoes. I have never seen these at my local chain grocery store, so you might need to venture out to your local farmer’s market. These have potent antioxidants called anthocyanins which reduce brain inflammation that is linked to depression and improve short-term memory. Serve them mashed with roasted garlic.
  • Mussels. These contain iodine, zinc and selenium, all of which support the thyroid gland which regulate mood and weight. Cook mussels with butter.
  • Greek Yogurt. Having more calcium than milk, Greek yogurt will cause your brain to release happiness-inducing neurotransmitters. Store brands have hit the shelves at grocery stores, making Greek yogurt more affordable than ever.
  • Cherry Tomatoes. These are in abundance during the summer months and celebrated for their high levels of the antioxidant lycopene. Toss them with olive oil and add to a salad for another way to stop inflammation in the brain.

Enrich Someone Else’s Life

Helping others is a good way to feel good about life. Tutoring in an adult illiteracy program, serving at a soup kitchen, or mentoring troubled teens are just a few things you can do to make you feel like a worthwhile part of a community and bring a smile to someone’s face. I know that for me, being with those less fortunate is one of those reminders that I have it pretty good. To find volunteer opportunities in your area you can either stand at a street corner waiting for a little old lady to need help crossing the road, or check out one of these websites.

Elevate Your Heart Rate

Endorphins. We hear about them, we know we want them. In the movie Legally Blonde, Reese Witherspoon memorably states, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” But what are they? I’m going to let WebMD take this one.

Endorphins…trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

This has to be the least expensive and easiest fix to boost your mood of all.

Housework…as fast as you can. I know it sounds lame, but this one is kind of a two-fer: you will have raised your heart rate as well as created a more organized and stress-free environment. Set a timer and do as much as you can in 20 minutes. With all the bending, squatting, and reaching you just might get the euphoria you’re looking for. But take it from me and skip the speed-dishwashing.

Yoga. I am going to guess you have access to the Internet. There is a wealth of free yoga routines online. This one from Yoga with Esther Ekhart is aimed towards beginners. If you would rather have a DVD, the library is an excellent resource for that. Borrowing from the library is also a great idea because it allows you to “test-drive” the different styles of yoga so if you do end up purchasing an instructional DVD, you can be confident in your decision.

Walking. If you are at the office all day, taking a brisk walk as soon as you get home might be the medicine you need, especially after a hard day. When I do this, it’s like it creates a dividing line in my day: there is what happened before and then there is my peaceful home time.

Laughter. I love watching silly cat videos on YouTube (don’t make me regret admitting that publicly). And I don’t care what season it is, watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation gets me every time. Do you have a daughter or a nephew that is a real ham? Stay in touch with that person. Sometimes just one good chuckle will reset your mood.

So, grab a Greek yogurt for your walk over to the animal shelter where you volunteer, but when you get back share your frugal mood-boosting tips with the rest of us. Thanks for being a Tip Hero!

Photo credit: ryanknott, RGerendasy, Tulane Public Relations, ~Annika~