I’m a longtime proponent of talk therapy. But the ability to share thoughts and process experiences with an objective professional is a privilege. When the dupe trend expanded to therapy, I was intrigued, but also cautious. It felt insensitive and even harmful to propose that a candle, bubble bath, or silky sheets could provide the same mental clarity and support as speaking with a therapist.
But since diving deeper into the trend—which currently stands at 95.4 million views on TikTok—I’ve learned to think of these “dupes” not as true replacements, but as mood-boosting strategies that can be practiced alongside traditional talk therapy. In an article for Mental, Shelby Castile, LMFT defines the difference between therapy dupes and psychotherapy: “In-depth psychotherapy helps people deal with issues related to their mental health, which in turn affects the rest of their lives long-term. Therapy dupes seem to be more focused on the short term. They can be a fun way to increase motivation and get people started on a more authentic approach to self-improvement.”
Bottom line: Always seek out professional therapy, especially if you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, boundary setting, etc. But if you’re looking for tips to get a little mood boost, keep reading. These are my favorite “therapy dupes” for finding calm, expressing gratitude, and connecting with joy.
50 Therapy Dupes for an Instant Mood Boost
1. Take a mindful girl walk. Ditch the AirPods—and your phone—and connect with the sounds, sights, and scents around you. Instant grounding.
2. Pet a pet. Whether it’s a dog, cat, or hamster, spend a few minutes with your fur baby and feed off their inherent comfort.
3. Do your nails. You can immediately feel put together, but doing your own nails can also act as a mindfulness practice. And if you’re really going for the dopamine, opt for bright colors.
4. Swap around your space. Situate your favorite reading chair in the spot that gets the most sun. Clean off your desktop to help clear your head. Move a side table next to your bed and stack it high with your favorite books. Let your home reflect the joy and inner peace you want to cultivate.
5. Call a friend. Obvious, but effective. When I’m feeling down, I notice that stepping outside of myself and asking about a friend’s day is the easiest way to shift my mood for the better.
6. Eat something colorful. Whether it’s a smoothie, a seasonal salad, or baked goods with colorful frosting (recommended), take the adage to heart and taste the rainbow.
7. Get outside. I don’t care how you do it—whether you’re swimming, hiking, or exploring a local park—just don’t forget the SPF.
8. Take a nap. The simple act of giving yourself a break can do wonders.
9. Light a candle. Aromatherapy is real. Soak it up.
10. Make your favorite comfort meal. Despite the many rom-coms that have tried to convince us otherwise, Ben & Jerry’s won’t fix all of your problems. But when I want to feel like a kid again who had a bad day at school, I mother myself and stir up a little stovetop mac & cheese.
11. Turn off your alarm. If it’s the weekend or you have a day off, try letting your body sleep until it naturally wants to wake up. Yes, consistent sleep and wake times are important, but so is rest.
12. Play a game. They’re the ultimate escape. Make it social and invite friends over for Monopoly, get outside and play pickleball, or go down the rabbit hole that is The New York Times “Play” section. A rousing round of Wordle, anyone?
13. Leave your home and get a “treat.” I love calling my Starbucks runs, library finds, and thrifted gems little “treats.” It’s such a joyful mindset shift.
15. Learn a new skill. This one can be tricky because if you’re in need of a therapy dupe that gives instant gratification, this might not be it. But long-term, learning how to sew, roller skate, or bake something pretty can bring so much meaning and fulfillment to your days.
16. Take a day trip. Download podcasts, make a playlist, and get in the car or hop on the subway. Shaking up your routine and changing your environment is one of the most effective ways to transform your experience.
17. Go to the library or visit a bookstore. Did anyone else love doing the summer reading challenges as a kid? There’s truly nothing quite like a fresh stack of books to make you feel inspired. Find a few faves and enjoy updating your TBR.
18. Have a girls’ weekend. Whether it’s a sleepover chez toi or renting a cabin with your besties, plan an overnight full of food, time outside, deep conversations, and plenty of cute photo ops.
19. Jam out. Siri, play “Lavender Haze.”
20. Organize one thing. It can be your junk drawer, beauty cabinet, or closet. Nothing lifts my mood quite like a satisfying before and after. And if you don’t have the energy to do it yourself, there’s always HGTV.
21. Make a friendship bracelet. Pay a visit to the craft store, press play to your favorite show, and turn your living room floor into your dedicated DIY station. I love sending bracelets to friends far away and delivering them in person to my local pals.
22. Orient your routines toward joy. I used to think about my morning and nighttime routines simply in the context of how I could be the most productive. But now, I’m learning to see this as my time to simply be. That can mean finishing my current read, journaling, moving my body, or scrolling through my favorite accounts. Remember: what brings you joy is deeply personal and entirely unique.
23. Find a body of water. Bathing suit, sunscreen, beach read—check.
24. Upgrade your H2O. Romanticize hydration by mixing in an electrolyte powder, DIY ice cubes, or sliced fruit. It’s pretty, it’s tasty, and yes, absolutely necessary.
25. Visit a craft market or fair. I just went to Renegade Craft in Chicago this past weekend and not only was the experience inspiring, but it helped me feel more connected to my local community. Research fairs in your city or stay up to date on where your favorite makers are popping up next.
26. Makeover your books. Want the Penguin Classics look for your romance novels? It’s possible! Watch this tutorial for tips.
27. Brainstorm your biggest dreams. I love doing mind dumps—it’s a fun way to get all of your hopes and wants for the future out on the page. I find that writing my goals, no matter how lofty or seemingly impossible, helps them feel one step closer to being realized. And if you haven’t done it before, prepare for how energized and inspired you’ll feel after.
28. Create mood lighting. My mood used to drop a little in the evenings, but when I started making my home cozier at night (lighting a few candles, turning on some jazz, making a cup of tea, and never, ever using the “big” light), it became something to look forward to and a nice way to transition to my after-work routine.
29. Take a Target trip. If you’re a true Target girlie, then you know: you don’t even need to buy anything to experience the retail-adjacent joy.
31. Clean out your inbox. Let tools like Unroll.Me do the hard work and clear out the clutter. Once you’re unsubscribed from the emails you don’t want, start researching and signing up for newsletters that’ll bring you weekly joy. Some of my faves? Slow Brew Sunday by Jules Acree, On the Rocks by Olivia Noceda, and Intelligent Weekly by Intelligent Change.
32. Indulge in escapism. Y’all, I’m in my #cottagecore era and I can’t recommend taking a deep dive into the Jane Austen-esque hashtag enough.
33. Take an “Everything Shower.” It’s luxe, it’s lengthy, and it’ll make you feel amazing when you step out. Consult this list for everything you need.
34. Schedule a free day. Every so often, I love intentionally having a “no-spend” day. With the goal of zero dollars spent, I’m inspired to connect with simpler joys. Walks, reading, catching up with friends, making something, writing—you’ll be surprised by how expansive the experience can be.
35. Update your wardrobe. In the spirit of the therapy dupe above, try doing this without buying new pieces. Have you ever noticed that, no matter how many clothes you have in your closet, you often gravitate toward the same couple of pieces? With the items you have available, select a new capsule wardrobe collection. You’ll rediscover dresses, find new ways to style your shorts, and maybe even uncover a few tees that’ll infuse your current style with more personality.
36. Re-watch your favorite movies or series as a kid. Couldn’t get enough of Kim Possible? Craving the ultimate Y2K inspo à la Lizzie McGuire? See what’s available on your favorite streaming platform and cue the nostalgia.
37. Organize your saved posts. There’s a reason you flagged them! Go through your Instagram saves and delegate them to folders that’ll make them easier to reference. By making a “workout” folder, I can easily access videos that have inspired me to switch up my gym routine, making exercise all the more enjoyable. (Yes, really!)
38. Go on an ice cream date. There is nothing I love more in the summer than texting a friend to see if they’re up for a cone walk. I haven’t been turned down yet.
39. Experiment with a trending food. I won’t say that I was obsessed with cottage cheese before it became cool, but… I do feel seen in its recent rise to TikTok fame. I use it to make banana bread, a quick lunch, or a protein-packed dip.
40. Make a bouquet. With Trader Joe’s blooms, wildflowers, or whatever you can find. Nothing delights quite like bringing nature indoors.
41. DIY art for your home. Art can be pricey, but good news: you can make colorful, joy-sparking prints yourself! Here’s all the inspo you need to unlock your inner artiste.
42. Start a scrapbook. I’ve been keeping a scrapbook since I was 14. Not only do I like looking back on my treasured memories over the years, but I love having a space of my own that I can curate and personalize. It brings me joy just to flip through its pages.
43. Make a mocktail. Skip the glass of wine and opt for a hangover-free sipper. Try one of our favorite zero-proof recipes.
44. Wear your favorite outfit. Whenever I need to boost my mood, there’s only one dress that will do. She’s loose but flattering, pretty but comfy. A nap dress is my go-to for making me feel undeniably amazing—what’s yours?
45. Change your phone/computer background. You know where to go.
46. Use a disposable camera. I love the trend of capturing life through analog devices. If you want to spend less time on your phone but still want to document your experience, stock up.
47. Hug someone heart-to-heart. With your partner, a friend, or anyone you feel safe with and want to express love for, try what’s called hugging “heart to heart.” It’s an intentional way of experiencing close, physical connection and truly being present with someone you love.
48. Learn to embroider. I’ve been looking for more ways to personalize my style and make my clothing feel entirely and uniquely my own. Adding sweet details on your jeans pocket or along a sleeve is a fun way to infuse your wardrobe with personality.
49. Write affirmations on your mirror. If saying positive affirmations out loud feels uncomfortable, write a few on a sticky note and keep it somewhere you’ll see every day. Even just reading them daily can go a long way in shifting your thought patterns.
50. Feel your feelings. It might sound counterintuitive, but when your emotions feel heavy and overwhelming, let them flow. Cry if you need to. The experience can be uncomfortable, but it can also feel cathartic and powerful. And the more we practice leaning into our feelings, the more we can welcome them with kindness and grace.