Our mood can make a difference in everything we do and everything we experience. It changes the way we see the world, the way we interact with the people around us, and probably more importantly, the way we feel about ourselves. Fortunately, we can use simple and quick techniques to change and improve our mood effortlessly and inexpensively. Using all our senses and some simple psychological tricks, we can improve our mood and also help our mental and physical health. Try some of the following to improve your frame of mind each and every day:
Ten Ways To Improve Your Mood
1. Short bursts of exercise.
As little as five minutes of moderate to intense exercise can lift your mood. Activities as simple as using the stairs, jogging on the spot, brisk walking, dancing, or doing exercises such as push-ups and squats can give your outlook an immediate boost. So plan a few bursts of exercise a few times a day to keep your mood and energy topped up. Remember though to always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
2. Breathing exercises.
There are many types of deep breathing and conscious breathing exercises that all help to promote health and a sense of well-being. Try sitting with your hands on your abdomen and chest for a few minutes, deepening and slowing your breath, and feeling your abdomen and chest rise and fall. You will certainly feel relaxed and energized afterward. Try it every day for a week and notice the difference in your mood. Read more about using the breath to improve your mood in my article Breath – A Bridge To Conscious And Mindful Living.
A recent study published in the journal Experimental Psychology found that the action of smiling can boost your mood. The contraction of certain facial muscles sends signals to the brain that make you feel happier and have a more positive outlook. Smiling can actually trick your brain into believing you’re happy which can then produce actual feelings of happiness. Don’t overdo it as you might start to scare people, but perhaps try smiling at yourself in the mirror to make yourself instantly a little happier.
If you set your intention to improve your mood and then listen to music that you love, you will instantly feel happier. A 2012 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that listening to positive music every day and intentionally trying to become happier is an effective way to improve happiness. Remember though that setting the intention is an important part of this process, rather than expecting the music alone to work its magic.
Getting outside and getting some sunshine has been a proven mood lifter for a very long time. If it’s possible to also take a walk, preferably somewhere green with trees, plants or flowers then all the better. Sunshine first thing in the morning can also ease insomnia and if it’s in short supply, light therapy with a light box can be a good substitute, especially in the winter months.
6. A cup of coffee.
Too much can be bad for you and some people can’t tolerate even small amounts for medical reasons, but if you are someone who can drink coffee with no health consequences then a cup of Joe can lift your mood quickly and easily. It is thought to raise dopamine levels and is a cheap and enjoyable mood booster. Make sure not to exceed four cups a day and avoid all caffeine later in the day to avoid sleep problems.
7. A kind gesture.
Anecdotal evidence and more formal studies have shown that doing something for someone else can make you feel instantly good. This can include small gestures such as smiling at someone, encouraging a friend, lending a hand to a neighbor, helping a good cause, or letting someone go ahead of you in a queue. It seems that being kind to yourself is important but being kind to someone else can improve your mood more. Read more on this subject in my article How To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude.
8. Make healthy choices when eating and drinking.
Certain foods and drinks have been shown to actively increase your state of mind. Be careful, of course, that you’re not comfort-eating or gaining too much weight, but remember that snacks such as a little dark chocolate, a handful of berries or almonds, probiotics such as yogurt, and leafy greens such as spinach can give your mood a boost. Green teas such as sencha and matcha are also known for promoting a sense of well-being as well as adding healthy antioxidants to your diet.
You don’t even have to buy them! Just being around flowers such as roses can improve your mood almost instantly. The look, the colors, and the scent have been proven to give a psychological boost. In a study from Rutgers at The State University of New Jersey titled ‘An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers’, researchers found that the sensory elements of flowers combine to directly affect mood. So make sure to visit a rose garden or browse a florist’s from time to time for an instant mood lift!
This study showed evidence of the effect of the aromas of peppermint on cognition and mood. A cup of peppermint tea or a few drops of essential oil on a hanky or in the shower can lift your spirits in seconds. Aromatherapy has a long history and we all find different smells provoke different emotions and memories. If you don’t like peppermint then try finding scents that you personally enjoy and give you a sense of well-being. Use different scents during the day to lift your mood and in the evening to relax.
There’s no need to do all of these, just try some out and see what helps you the most. These tips show us that we can improve our mood quickly and easily without spending a lot of time or money. And don’t forget to laugh and have fun along the way, never take life too seriously, and always be kind to yourself (and others).
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