We all have them- the days where we just don’t feel like getting out of bed to go to work, or where our chest just feels heavy for no apparent reason. Perhaps you might be a bit more irritable or withdrawn than usual, just because. This is part of being human and in most cases- is nothing to be alarmed about. Usually these feelings will pass and you will be back to your normal self within a few hours or days. However, for some people, these low moods can occur more frequently or linger for a little longer than they do for others.
Regardless of how frequent or prolonged your low moods are, it can be helpful to be proactive and engage in activities which are more likely to improve mood rather than worsen it.
So here are ten activities which can help to boost that mood quickly:
1. Indulge the senses: evidence says that when we have positive sensory experiences, it can boost endorphin levels (“happy hormones”) in our brain to improve mood. Ever noticed how the smell of your favourite fragranced candle, soothing sounds of the ocean, the warmth of a blanket or shower, or a cup of tea for instance can improve your mood?? This may be because we enjoy the sensory experiences that we get from these activities. Think about which senses you tend to respond to most and write a list of activities that you can do which might engage these senses in a positive way. Try these out next time you feel a little low.
2. Get activated – there is strong evidence to suggest that when we are more active we boost endorphin levels and thus improve our mood. So get outdoors for a walk or run, go to the gym- or if all of that is too much right now, perhaps stay in your pyjamas but just run on the spot for a few minutes or pump out a few high paced burpees in the lounge room.
3. Relaxation/Meditation – if your stress levels have been elevated or your mind is busy, relaxation strategies or meditation might be just the thing you need. When we engage in relaxation strategies, it can reduce adrenaline and cortisol levels (the stress hormones), and boosts serotonin and dopamine- two of the chemicals which help us to feel happier. There a loads of apps you can download to help with this, but to get started, turn off the tv, find a quiet spot and try downloading and using “mindfulness -the art of being” app on your phone. Headspace also offer a great meditation app.
4. Schedule something you enjoy or get a sense of achievement from- when your mood is low it is always tempting to do less of the things you enjoy, and less of the things you get a sense of achievement from (even if it is just putting on a load of washing). If your mood is low, try to push yourself to just do one or two pleasurable or achievement-based activities each day. It won’t work miracles- but it may indeed stop you from slipping further down into the dumps.
5. Self-Care – this kind of ties into the previous point- but try to do something nice for yourself. Run yourself a hot bath, give yourself a manicure, slow down with your favourite cup of tea, take a trip to the beach to zone out. When we take regular time out to look after ourselves, it can work wonders for our mood in the long run.
6. Look at artwork or use visualization – some evidence suggests that when we look at artwork that we like, or when we visualize things that we enjoy, certain parts of our brain become activated which help to boost mood. So get out to your local art museum, or even just spend some time visualizing some beautiful scenery.
7. Power naps – while tucking yourself away in bed all day can be tempting when mood is low, it often isn’t helpful for boosting mood. However, some evidence does suggest that we might benefit psychologically from an afternoon “power nap”- that is a nap no longer than 20 to 30 minutes which is just enough to help us feel refreshed but not long enough to enable us to fall too deeply into sleep so that we feel lethargic upon waking. So, if circumstances allow- schedule in an afternoon nap. Although, it isn’t recommended you do this at work 🙂
8. Play your favourite music- similar to the sensory experiences described above, listening to upbeat music or songs that trigger positive memories can help to boost mood. So put on those beats and get listening.
9. Connect with others – at our core, we are social creatures. So, if you can, try to connect with others by catching up with friends for a coffee, having a cuddle with your partner, or calling a family member or friend who often makes you feel good.
10. Acts of kindness- some evidence suggests that when our mood is low, doing something kind for someone else can help to boost mood quite quickly. So get those old clothes to charity like you’ve been planning to for months, or visit your friend who just broke up with her boyfriend. You might be surprised by how much it can actually help.
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