Feeling low? That’s understandable. A recent study from the American Psychological Association reveals we’re all pretty stressed out these days. And the trend shows no signs of slowing.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. While it’s important to seek proper medical attention if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other signs of a mental illness, there are steps you can take right away to boost your mood quickly. These, however, aren’t cures for serious conditions.
Again, if you struggle with chronic feelings of unhappiness or stress, it’s best to see a doctor to discuss your options. In the meantime, these research-backed tips can give you the boost you need to feel better right now.
Smiling isn’t just something you do when you’re already happy. Research shows the physical act of smiling can actually make you happier, while also boosting your immune system. It can even lower your heart rate!
Plenty of studies confirm this. Basically, your brain associates smiling with certain chemical states. Putting on a smile, even when you’re not in a good mood, triggers the release of both serotonin and dopamine, the brain’s “happy chemicals.”
Not good at faking a smile? Try holding a pen or pencil between your teeth to develop this skill. Doing so essentially results in a smile. Just don’t creep out your friends or coworkers.
#2: Listen to Music
Numerous studies show that listening to music offers many mood-boosting benefits. Music can be very powerful. People who listen to it before, during, and after surgery experience less pain than patients who undergo surgery without the help of tunes. Experts also point out that, if you have the opportunity to create music, this can act as a form of therapy. It can even help those with dementia to improve mood and boost self-confidence.
What type of music is best when you feel low? Research currently indicates the right music is probably the music you want to listen to. The study above confirms that music can offer pain relief to surgery patients. But it also indicates that patients who could choose their own music enjoyed the greatest benefits. Whether you’re into classical or country, putting on your favorite playlist appears to be an easy way to feel happier in the moment.
Music therapy also has long-term benefits. If you struggle with mental health issues, it may supplement a treatment program.
#3: Drink Some Water
Odds are good you don’t drink enough water throughout the day. After all, a survey of working Americans indicates 80% of people don’t get proper hydration.
That may be why you feel stressed out and a little down by the time the afternoon rolls around. Dehydration is linked to reduced productivity and depressed moods. Luckily, studies also show that the more water you drink, the happier you tend to be.
Drinking water can give you a mood boost in both the short and long run. One study reveals that people who increase their water consumption from five cups a day to 10 cups daily can yield major, sustained mood improvements after just three days. On the other hand, people who decreased their water consumption during the study were more prone to headaches, cognitive problems, and depressed moods.
Sometimes the key to feeling better on a daily basis is as simple as spending more time at the water cooler.
#4: Admire Nature
Being stuck in a cubicle doesn’t do your mood any favors. Experts believe humans have a normal desire to spend more time in a natural environment. Studies show that spending time in green spaces is an easy and effective way to guard against a bad mood. If you feel low, sit outside on the grass for a few minutes to help adjust your mood.
Don’t worry if that’s not an option. Research also shows that merely looking at a picture of a natural image for as little as 40 seconds can also promote greater relaxation. If you’re at work and unable to escape to the nearest park, do a quick Google image search to find a peaceful natural scene. This may be enough to get you out of your slump.
You’ll also perform better on the job. Many studies also reveal a positive correlation between looking at nature and increased productivity.
#5: Drink a Cup of Coffee
Before you put this tip into action, you should know that relying on caffeine to get through your day is not a recipe for strong mental health in the long run. If you consume too much caffeine in a day, it may result in such problems as increased anxiety, poor sleep, and more.
However, if you tend to have your caffeine intake under control, that cup of coffee (tea or energy drink, etc.) will give you a quick dopamine boost when you’re in a bad mood. Dopamine just happens to be the brain’s pleasure chemical.
It’s not a long-term solution to a chronic problem, but it’s an easy fix when you just need a little pick-me-up.
#6: Breathe Better
Bad moods are often linked to stress. Luckily, there are simple ways you can trigger your body’s natural relaxation response without medication. You just need to change your breathing.
You should breath in slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your abdomen. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Breathing this way triggers a relaxation response that you can’t get from shallow breathing. This helps to reduce stress, which in turn helps to improve your mood.
You may have to consciously adjust your breathing if you’re accustomed to taking shallow breaths. Luckily, if you practice the correct breathing technique on a regular basis, it will eventually come naturally to you.
Go ahead and click on that “hilarious” link your coworker forwarded to everyone in the office.
Physicians and other medical professionals have been touting the benefits of laughter for some time. In the long run, getting more laughs in during the day can boost your immune system, relieve pain, and help you effectively cope with difficult life circumstances. In the immediate moment, laughter, like deep abdominal breathing, promotes greater physical relaxation. Again, the result is greater mental relaxation, which may improve your mood when stress has you down.
But don’t make the mistake of assuming these tips will fix a genuine mental health problem. Anyone struggling with long-term depression or anxiety should consult with a professional. That said, everyone feels low from time to time. These simple tips will help lift your mood when you’re feeling down.
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