Obviously, I am a film major and have no actual qualifications to say what has actually given me serotonin, but let’s pretend! Some days are harder to build up some natural happiness than others, so here are a few things that make me feel a bit more joyful on the days that I need it a bit more than usual. Fair warning: most of them are silly.
- Petfinder for All Your Pet Fix Needs
This is in no way a promotion article for Petfinder although I am very willing to promote them in any way possible if the opportunity ever arises. I joined Petfinder about two months ago, and if my level of joy was not already so high, it definitely spiked after I spent hours on end just admiring dogs. Since I have had to spend more time online than I would prefer right now, I have gotten pretty good at finding my dog fix outside of my daily walks. I love to fantasize about my future a lot, so this is probably the most immediate tool to cure some excitement for now. It is completely free, so you do not have to worry about alternating emails for free trials, which I am definitely not guilty of either. It depends on which shelter or rescue center that you are looking at, but almost all the animals listed include the age level (baby, puppy/kitten, adult or senior), weight, coloring, whether they are housebroken or not, if they have special needs or require medication of any kind, adoption process and fee and a ton of other resources to make sure these animals are going to good homes. I have altered my search engine about a hundred times now just so I can scroll through and look at the animals, but I also highly recommend if you are also just using it to find your new best friend!
- Apartment Hunting Dreams
Okay, so I have an immense love for architecture but cannot do math or engineer anything that is meant to sustain human life, so apartment hunting was the alternative! I am in the process of looking at apartments for the fall semester of my final year and also where I am going to live after I graduate, so I guess you could call me a trained professional at this point. Again, this is not an ad, but the websites Apartmentlist.com and Apartments.com have been the two that I have found to be the most user-friendly. Again, I geek out on future scenarios, so this is like me fulfilling interior design dreams as a digital media production major with a very low budget. Genuinely though, make it fun! Personally, I prefer to make it somewhat realistic so I can imagine my next phase of life in a physical space, but if you just want to look at gorgeous California homes, to each their own. Honestly, this alternative is great because it lets you do the fun part of moving without packing everything up and lifting items for days on end.
- Grocery Shopping Therapy
I have little to no explanation for this. It is the kind of shopping that we kind of all cheat at. I am fully aware that every time I go to the store for bread I am going to be walking out with some non-dairy Ben and Jerry’s and a new box of cereal despite having four more at home. Going to the grocery store when you are hungry is the equivalent to going on animal shelter websites when you are touch-deprived (cough cough). There is that idea of self-manipulation where we constantly get so excited for the next thing that we tend to love the waiting more than the act, and I honestly think that is why so many people love grocery shopping. You go through aisle after aisle looking at food and just imagining what you can make with it. Do not even get me started on clearance and baking aisles. And all the marketing tools to sell me a new version of Oreos and Easter-themed Reese’s will work every single time no questions asked. We love the idea of newness, and although you could make the argument that we are just constantly setting ourselves up, it is just so fun to try new things, even if you hate it. Grab that pack of double-stuffed Oreos in case you hate the mudslide ones. You will mess up sometimes, and that is okay! Trying things is part of living, and in the most cheesy way possible, you are what you eat — philosophically, of course.
- DIY at the Dollar Store
I am a firm believer that anything that makes you happy is worth doing, of course within a healthy reason. I tend to do this thing where I love doing things for other people and “profit” my interests. I love writing, so I joined a ton of organizations that allow me to do that. I love sewing and making things for other people, so I added an entrepreneurship minor so I can start my own business someday. I love to run, so I make deals with myself that I must run however many days a week until it is not fun anymore. I was one of many that fell victim to TikTok DIY trends, and I am also a broke college student, so thus DIY Dollar Store projects were born! Sometimes making something for the hell of making it is all you need to validate creative gateways. A few years ago I got really into painting for a while. I would go to Target, buy a few of those paints that they sell for a dollar and just paint these really cheesy quotes and designs that made me happy, and I think that is something we take for granted a lot of the time because it is not “productive.” If painting is not your thing, there is a whole aisle of pre-prepared crafts at the dollar store that I visit far too frequently and it’s honestly so fun, especially because they are all so simplified that it is just incredibly relaxing to do while you watch some feel-good movies. You are also one search away from finding a surplus of videos on YouTube and TikTok of other ideas that require maybe five dollars worth of materials, just make sure you have fun and that is honestly all that matters!
- Library at Home with Libby
Okay, so I do not know how I just learned this in my second to last semester in college but was anyone else aware that you can get virtual books if you have a library card? I swear I am not affiliated with any sponsorships in any way, but I feel like this is something more students should be told about. It is pretty far and few between to find actual textbooks, but if you are reading any more textual books for an English class or essay-based class, odds are whatever you are looking for is at your local library, which you can visit virtually and “check out.” I love reading and teaching myself things, so this felt like a great alternative while I am able to stay in my comfy clothes and wear a face mask comfortably in the comfort of my fuzzy blanket. They also have magazine selections as well as audiobooks, so you can go for walks or workout to some wonderful audiobooks on the go. I know health and wellness books as well as true crime and thriller books have made a pretty big surge again, and I think that is a great thing to enjoy as well.
At the end of the day, do what feels right for you! I have had days where I forced myself to work out or be “productive” when all I wanted and needed was a good movie day with snacks and dog pictures. Healthy habits are the best solution, and although they take effort and a trial-and-error approach, you are the best at knowing what you like and what helps you, so I hope this list at least inspired some ideas of serotonin-inducing activities!