10 Little Ways To Lift Your Mood
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Health and Wellness

10 Little Ways To Lift Your Mood

Feeling down? Let's fix that.

10 Little Ways To Lift Your Mood
IFL Science

We've all had those days -- the days when you're so down in the dumps that you don't want to do anything. It's a constant struggle between finding the motivation to make yourself feel better, but appreciating the comfort and safety of moping in bed. More often than not, you can't have both.

For some people, these days happen more frequently. For others, they're a rarity. Regardless, these days are an inevitable part of life. Not every day will be your best day. But for those days that seem to drag on forever, for those days where it seems like nothing will make you feel better, these 10 ideas may be a good place to start.

1. Go outside.

The positive benefits of the great outdoors actually go far beyond taking in some vitamin D. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that participants who took a 90-minute nature walk showed far lower levels of brooding and worrying. They also found that there was decreased blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with negative moods.

Whether it be hiking, kayaking, climbing, or going for a stroll in a local park, getting outside has major psychological benefits and will always lighten your mood when you’re distressed. Additionally, it can get you outside your daily routine enough to change your perspectives or feelings on whatever situation may be bringing you down.

2. Write it down.

Writing allows you to explicitly express your thoughts, emotions, and stresses in a healthy and productive way while allowing yourself to make sense of them. By offloading your racing thoughts, your mind will be quieter. Writing down why you are distressed lays the situation out more tangibly, making your thoughts far less overwhelming than when they spiral around your head.

Writing also allows for greater self-reflection in a way that digs deep. It allows you to reflect on why you are feeling the way you feel, as opposed to just the feelings themselves. Writing them down allows you to make sense of them in order to move forward, and therefore will make you feel a lot better.

3. Exercise.

Sometimes getting some endorphins can make all the difference! It’s what Kirsten Weir calls "The Exercise Effect." Getting active, even for only five minutes, whether it be lifting weights, riding a bike, or going for a run, has mood-enhancing effects. In fact, James Blumenthal, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Duke University, claims that exercise is generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder.

Exercise can reduce stress, boost “happy” brain chemical production, improve your confidence, alleviate anxiety and worrying, sharpen memory, increase relaxation, help with addiction, and prevent cognitive decline as we age. Not only can getting active lift your mood today, but consistently exercising will lift your mood in the long-term.

4. Practice yoga.

Yoga, as a form of exercise, holds many of the same benefits as listed above, especially increasing relaxation. The physiological benefits intertwine with the psychological benefits, as alleviating tenseness and stress in your muscles will, in turn, inspire your mind to relax, as well. It gives you a chance to quiet your thoughts and focus on yourself.

Doing some simple sun salutations for 10 minutes in the morning can lift your mood tremendously to prepare for the day, better than any cup of coffee!

5. Breathe.

This point ties in with yoga, as well. Our breathing plays a huge role in our physical and emotional well-being. When you are stressed and on edge, your heart rate increases along with your breathing pattern. It becomes heavier, faster, and louder. By practicing tactical breathing techniques, you slow your body’s response to stressful situations to respond in the most effective way. Breathing exercises are even heavily practiced and encouraged in military training for use in stressful situations and combat.

If you find yourself in a situation that you are overwhelmed, upset, or traumatized, tactical breathing can help calm you down. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold your breath for a second, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Feel your muscles relax as you finish exhaling. Repeat as many times as desired. You’ll notice the difference.

6. Sleep.

When I am feeling down, stressed, or frustrated, my mom always tells me, “the difference between hope and despair is a good night’s sleep.” She has always been right.

If you can recognize that you’re sleepy, you can recognize that your negative mood will likely improve after a good night's sleep. A lot of the time, exhaustion or hunger can be the greatest contributing factors to our grumpiness. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.

7. Listen to music.

There’s no denying that a single song can change your mood entirely, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. At times, when you’re feeling down, listening to melancholy songs can be relaxing. But, putting together a “happy” playlist will probably lift your mood more effectively.

One day, when I was traveling and very homesick, I put together a playlist of songs that immediately make me smile whenever I hear them. Everyone has those songs -- the ones that bring light to our eyes every time without fail. I put together a playlist of mine, and I still continue to add to it and listen to it on a regular basis when I need a pick-me-up.

Start with "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John, and "It Wasn’t Me" by Shaggy.

8. Talk about it.

Talking about your stresses with another person can really help you feel better. By verbalizing them, you can make better sense of them. While there’s a fine line between healthy venting and unproductive complaining, letting out all your frustrations and distress will really help you feel better than if you keep them bottled up. Additionally, constructive venting will help you to strategize the next steps in whatever situation may be bringing you down.

9. Take a bath.

Maybe incorporate some bath salts, candles, and soothing music while you’re at it.

10. Do something kind for someone else.

The best thing you can do when you’re feeling down is do something kind for someone else. Making others happy has a contagious effect. Even the smallest acts, like baking cookies for a friend, cleaning the house for your roommate, or writing a surprise letter to your parents can not only lift your mood, but it can put into perspective what is truly important in life. Acts of kindness teach us to be grateful for what we have, what we have to give, and who we have in our lives. Gratitude is the key to happiness.

Sometimes there's no explanation for why we're feeling sad or down, but that doesn't mean we can't find a way to improve our mood.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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