Not every day is a good day. Some days we wake up tired, anxious or just downright fussy. Here are a few tips on boosting your mood:
Talk it out. You may be in a foul mood and not even realize why. Sometimes the best way to figure out why you are feeling the way you do is to talk about it. Set aside 20 minutes and talk about your feelings with your spouse or a very close friend. Make sure it is someone trustworthy that won’t come at you with judgement. Just a good listener. And then talk. Identify your feelings. Fear, anger, disappointment, sadness, and anxiety are all feelings we can carry around with us that will bring down our mood. Once you identify your feeling acknowledge it and then unpack it. What’s the worst-case scenario? How would you handle it? Make a plan and then move on with your day.
Write it down. Sometimes our feelings can be to heavy to share if we don’t feel like we have someone we can completely trust to be non-judgmental with us. In that case, write down what is bothering you. Write a letter to the person causing your pain but don’t give it to them. Get everything off your chest. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words can be very freeing. Another good activity is to write a letter to yourself from the perspective of someone that loves you.
Move. Exercise is a great stress reliever and mood booster. It stimulates receptors in the brain that boost the activity of the hypothalamus and other neurotransmitters including dopamine, which stimulates feelings of pleasure, and serotonin, which plays a role in mood-regulation. There is a clear correlation between lack of exercise and depression. A sedentary lifestyle means weight gain, poor cardiovascular function, poor heart function and poor blood return from the brain. Exercise can cause immediate mood boosting effects which will help to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Breathe. When you wake up in the morning take several deep breaths. Deep breathing will increase the oxygen in you blood flow and boost your brain activity. And doing so for 20 to 30 minutes each day will help to reduce anxiety and stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind. (American Institute of Stress)
Listen to music. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. Play your favorite song and let it take you a happy memory. Replace your negative thoughts with happy thoughts.
Pray/meditate. Regardless of our religious affiliation prayer and meditation affect our brain deeply. “Prayer and meditation are highly effective in lowering our reactivity to traumatic and negative events,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage, family and addictions therapist.
“They are powerful because they focus our thoughts on something outside ourselves. During times of stress, our limbic system, more commonly known as our central nervous system, becomes hyper-activated, which does two things: it thrusts us in to survival mode where we freeze, fight or flee the situation, [such that] we move away from the present state of being into a future state. This also shuts down our executive functioning [and] prevents us from thinking clearly. This is why when we’re stressed out we can make poor decisions and act in self-destructive ways.”
When we sit down and engage in prayer or meditation, we are able to shift away from this frightened and stressed survival mode into “an intentional state,” says Dr. Hokemeyer, and ultimately “reengage our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that rules our executive functioning and enables us to make intelligent mindful decisions.”
Watch this extremely interesting 3 minute video on what happens to the brain during prayer and meditation.
Put a few of these mood boosting tips in your pocket and remember to take them out when you find yourself having a crumby day.
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