Smart Ways To Lift Your Mood
Everyone wants to feel good. Yet each day, our moods are subject to change based on a number of factors, from what we see in the news to the weather outside. With so many things out of our control affecting our moods, it can seem like we have no say in our feelings.
We actually have more agency over our mood state than we think. There are certain tools and tricks we can use to lift our mood in the moment, and to establish a more positive mood overall.
Get some sun
We often hear of the risks of spending too much time in the sun. Although it is true that too much sun exposure can have harmful physical affects, such as sun burn or skin cancer, the sun provides much more than the potential pitfalls.
Studies show the Vitamin D from sunlight is linked to mental wellbeing, and spending just a few minutes in the sun can help boost our mood. This is because exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, which contributes to a sense of calm and focus.
Connect with others
Social connection is a fundamental need of every human being. Yet loneliness is on the rise, and more and more people are feeling isolated and alone. This is troublesome, as a lack of social connection is linked to increased levels of depression and anxiety.
Further complicating things, depression and anxiety can decrease our motivation to connect with others. Although difficult, reaching out to friends and loved ones, especially during difficult times, can vastly improve our mood and overall well-being.
There is a strong correlation between our breath and our state of mind. In fact, it is scientifically proven that taking slower, deeper breaths helps to calm the nervous system, and create a sense of calm and relaxation.
Nourish your body
What we eat effects our physical health, as well as our emotional and mental health. Our food choices have a large impact (either positively or negatively) on our energy, mood, and stress levels. Certain foods with omega-3 fatty acids, have been well-researched and shown to support brain health, improved mood, and lower levels of depression.
Move your body
Exercise affects the brain in important ways – through increasing serotonin levels (which help regulate mood, appetite, and sleep) and endorphins (natural mood lifters). Some people describe exercise as being as effective as anti-depressants.
Although exercise may be the last thing anyone wants to do when feeling low, it will certainly provide a mood boost.
Spend time with your pet
Pets come with powerful physical and mental health benefits. Not only can pets bring companionship into our lives, but they can also improve our mood. Pets help us feel more connected and thus, less lonely, as well as increase our likelihood to get exercise (especially for those who own a dog).
Studies show getting in touch with our creative side can lead to increased feelings of happiness. This may be because when we are engaged in a creative project, our mind tends to be more focused. Focusing the mind, or being mindful, can have an immense calming effect on our bodies and brains.
Journaling has been shown to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety in people of all ages. Yet journaling does not just reduce the negative symptoms we might experience; it also improves our emotional and cognitive power.
Many people dread the prospect of having to clean their home. But our living environment can have a substantial influence on our mental health. The state of our home often reflects the state of our mind, it makes sense that keeping our living space tidy and organized can lead to an improved mood.
Listen to music
Everyone experiences an emotional connection to music at some point. A song can make us feel sad, happy, or even angry. In recent years, studies have confirmed the connection between mood and music. Through listening to enjoyable music, our brain releases norepinephrine (the “pleasure” hormone), which contributes to positive mood, reduced stress, and better sleep.
Do something for someone else
Sometimes getting out of our own head, and focusing on someone else is exactly what is needed to feel better. Putting other people’s needs before our own can lead to improved mood, happiness, and self-esteem. Helping others not only feels good but can also increase a sense of connection, prospective, and gratitude.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is consistently correlated with greater happiness. Gratitude is being thankful for the things we have – this could be material things, relationships, abilities, etc. Reflecting on things we are grateful for inherently produces feelings of contentment and joy. Overtime, practicing gratitude on a daily basis can lead to improved mood and an overall sense of well-being.