While I am definitely no expert in this area, I have compiled my top tips to help improve your mood at those times you’re feeling blue, which are easy to do and can be done almost anywhere by anyone – usually without having to look like a fool either.
It seems like we skipped autumn this year and we are now straight into winter. It’s around this time of the year, with days getting shorter and shorter, the bitter coldness, and mornings becoming a valiant foe once again that it becomes harder to be as happy and positive as you really are.
The list below may appear to have some repetition, but I believe each point to be distinct enough of an action that it deserves to have its own entry. This is by no means a complete and perfect guide, merely what I know to work for me from my experience:
- Exercise – really properly for a few minutes
- Remember a happy time and place, be there
- Just smile for a bit, force it, whatever just smile
- Breath. Consciously. Maybe close your eyes
- Think of something that makes you laugh
- Consider other people – in thoughts or with action
This is great for so many reasons; distracting your mind, improving fitness so your body can work better at removing toxins/hormones and other chemicals, and releasing feel good endorphins to name a few. Depending on your mood and location you can exercise however you want. I feel better after 10 minutes of intense exercise in the spare room over an hour out walking. Of course long walks can be great for letting your head clear itself, as long as you don’t wallow in negativity. So get up and move. It’s that simple!
Probably the most amazing thing I learned in trying to boost my mood is that your brain doesn’t distinguish at all between experiencing something happy now and thinking about a time when you were happy before. Now that you know this, cast yourself into a cherished childhood memory, a stupid college night out, when you aced that test, when you won a game, or when you spent a night curled up on the couch with someone. Amazing right? It’s that simple!
OK, so the first thing to note is that I get it, when you are feeling blue the idea of smiling sounds alien. But it really is this easy. Not only does setting your facial muscles to make it look like you’re smiling trick your brain into releasing the same chemicals as if you were naturally smiling, it will also cause the people around you to smile and feel happier themselves, which then returns to you creating a positive feedback loop that has you all grinning like Cheshire cats. Try it right now. It’s that simple! 🙂
Rather than include meditation here – which is something I strongly recommend everyone practice in their own lives – I will simply describe how breathing can boost your mood. When we are depressed, anxious, etc., we tend to take quick, shallow breaths without any pause in between to allow our lungs do their thing. By consciously (manual) breathing, you can reduce your heart-rate and restore a good balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide to your bloodstream (and brain too!). To do this, simply take slow deep breaths in through your nose, hold for a second, slowly breath out through your mouth, then hold for another second or two while your lungs fully empty. Repeat until you are calm, relaxed and happy. You can even pair this with happy memories and smiling if you’re brave enough to feel that good. Oooommm… It’s that simple!
The equation here is as basic as it gets: Laughing = Feeling Happy = Laughing = Feeling Happy = Laughing …., you see where I’m going here, right? Just like smiling around others can create a positive feedback loop, so can simply laughing to yourself (and it’s even better if you laugh with your friends). By watching something you find funny, for example, you will naturally smile while laughing (whether out loud or to yourself), which makes you feel better, which makes you laugh and smile more. Taking a short break from what you’re doing to read some jokes, hear a story or watch a clip will have you back to yourself in no time.
I don’t know what you find funny, so I’m not going to suggest specifics – you should know what makes you giggle. Find some websites that make you laugh. It doesn’t matter what they are, just bookmark them together in folder that you name something that will appeal to you when you need them the most. E.g. Pick Me Ups, LOLs, Beat the Blues, or maybe even You’re Awesome.
“Roses are red
That part is true
But violets are purple
Not fucking blue”
As the ‘joke’ above shows, it doesn’t even have to be very funny. Just amusing will do.
It’s that simple!
This is similar to Memories, however that is more nostalgic whereas this is in the present. Consideration can be achieved through actions or thoughts. By thinking about the people in your life who sacrifice for you, care for you, or by writing a letter, helping someone out, you will feel better, as you should. Remember people consider you, so consider people too. Guess what? It’s that simple!
- Stop negative thoughts as soon as they appear (meditation teaches this better than anything else).
- Learn to quickly recognise when your mood declines. Catch it quick and it’s easy to fix.
- Stay away from backlit screens / artificial light when possible.
- Embrace nature. Get outdoors, sunlight is incredibly valuable and completely free (when it’s there).
- Your diet is a big influencer of your mood, so eat fresh healthy unprocessed food always.
- Don’t run out the door in the morning. Wake up early and do something you enjoy first thing.
- Expose yourself to bright light for 20-30 minutes in the morning.
- Most importantly, just realise that your mood changes, and you can change it, if you try.
In conclusion, the power – or decision, depending on how you look at it – is entirely in your hands to either do nothing or to stop, think, and overcome the moments when you’re feeling Blue without the Chief.