Ways to Boost Your Mood
As we go through life, we’re bound to experience both highs and lows—the highs typically serve as some of our greatest memories, and the lows can be hard to process. Whether you’re feeling low due to a stressful or emotional life event or simply get the winter blues during the colder, darker months of the year, the important thing to remember is that the lows are not forever. In fact, there are different ways that you can boost your mood when you are feeling down.
Get Some Exercise
One of the best ways to instantly boost your mood is through physical activity, and the sweatier the better! Getting your heart rate up can provide an instant pick-me-up when you’re feeling down. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression while also improve self-esteem and cognitive function. Additionally, exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective methods for reducing stress levels. An article from Walden University states that exercise stimulates “the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which not only improve cognition and mood but improve thinking clouded by stressful events.”
Spend Time With a Friend
Talking about your emotions or venting to a friend is a great way to lift yourself up out of a bad mood. The New York Times actually profiled this phenomenon in an article published in April 2020, citing research from UCLA that found that talking about your feelings “can diminish the response of the amygdala when you encounter things that are upsetting.” The researchers identified this experience as “affect labeling,” which is really just a fancy term for identifying what you are feeling and communicating those feelings to others. Having a friend you can turn to when you are struggling with negative emotions can not only help you gain some perspective on your problems, but also change the neurological response in your brain.
It can be easy to only focus on the things that aren’t going right in your life; however, there is always a silver lining to be discovered. By choosing to instead focus on things in your life that you are grateful for, you can shift the narrative to something more positive. Choosing to shift your mindset to the more positive aspects of life can instill hope and help prevent feelings of despair or sadness from consuming you. Experts recommend choosing at least one thing each day that you are grateful for and jotting it down in a gratitude journal. Getting into the habit of expressing gratitude on a regular basis can have a big impact on your mood in the long term.
Take a Hike
You don’t have to literally take a hike, but walking outdoors in nature is an instant mood booster. For years, scientists have studied the health benefits of spending time in nature, and the connection cannot be denied. A 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that spending as little as 20 minutes in nature can help lower stress hormones within the body. Even if you live in an urban area, making your way to a park or green space during times of high stress can have a positive impact on your mood.
Enjoy a Belly Laugh
Whoever said that laughter is the best medicine was right; experts agree that a good laugh can help cure a variety of ailments. In the short term, laughter actually induces a physical response in your body, including stimulating the organs and activating stress relief, while in the long term, it improves your immune system and reduces the risk of anxiety and depression. If deep belly laughs are hard for you to come by on a daily basis, consider watching some clips of your favorite comedian on YouTube or turn on a movie that always makes you chuckle.
It’s quite possible that you’re already doing a couple of the things on this list, so perhaps try one that you haven’t. And if you can adopt one of these suggestions as a habit, you may have instilled a lasting, positive change in feeling.