All of us can experience bad days from time to time when we feel upset, sad or disheartened, especially during the long winter months. Finding little ways to boost your mood and help yourself feel more positive is a great thing to do, no matter how tough life can be.
So, we’ve pulled together our top 12 tips on how to lift your spirits below.
Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing boosts your immune system, and triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. It also oxygenates your body and cools down your stress response systems producing an overall calm, happy feeling.
A Georgia State University study found that including simulated laughter in an exercise program helped improve older adults' mental health as well as their aerobic endurance. Plus, hearing others laugh, even for no apparent reason, can often trigger genuine laughter.
Spend time with an animal
Animals offer us unconditional love and empathy. So, it’s no surprise that stroking or hugging a beloved cat or dog is sure to help lift your mood. Even just 10 minutes of petting an animal reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. Animals can also reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.
Don’t have a pet at home? Watching the antics of a pet on video can be just the trick to lift your mood.
Give a hug
Hugs release oxytocin, which is often called the ‘love hormone’. It’s the reason why being hugged feels so good. Hugs and other non-sexual forms of physical soothing like handholding and head stroking, help to provide comfort and emotional regulation in adults and children.
So next time you’re feeling down, give someone a hug. It will not only lift your mood, but also theirs!
Smiling, even a fake smile, can have a positive impact on your mood. Smiling can lower stress, boost your immune system, boost your mood, and even the moods of people around you.
Dr. Isha Gupta a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine, explains that a smile triggers a chemical reaction in your brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression,” says Dr. Gupta. “Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression.”
If you don’t feel like smiling right now, then ‘fake it till you make it’. Smiling can trick your brain into believing you’re happy which can then encourage feelings of happiness.
Make a healthy meal
What you choose to eat can make a difference to your mood. Certain foods and nutrients help your brain to make chemicals that can impact your mood, attention, and focus, while other foods can zap your energy. The best meals combine complex carbohydrates with lean proteins and colourful fruits and vegetables which are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Read our blog on how to improve your mood with good food here.
To boost your mood and energy levels, include these foods as part of your diet:
- 1. Food containing healthy fats, such as avocados, fish, tofu, nuts and dark chocolate.
- 2. Complex carbohydrates help to stabilise blood sugar levels, which can stabilise your mood. Oats, brown rice, chickpeas, seeds and bananas are foods rich in complex carbohydrates.
- 3. Fermented foods like kimchi, yoghurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut which support a healthy gut microbiome. Did you know that 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced in your gut?
- 4. Berries. Rich in disease-fighting anthocyanins, there is research showing that an increase in antioxidants has a positive effect on mood.
- 5. Foods high in iron and folate. These essential nutrients play a role in the production of dopamine and healthy brain function. Dark leafy greens, shellfish, lean meat, lentils, nuts, and seeds are all high in iron and folate.
- 6. Food high in Vitamin C, such as oranges, berries, kiwifruit, and capsicum.
- 7. Foods such as broccoli, barley, grapes, eggs, and pistachios are rich in melatonin and can support a good night's sleep, helping to improve mood.
- 8. Coffee. Caffeine decreases mental fatigue and improves concentration and motivation, which has a positive effect on mood. Research suggests that decaf coffee may even have a positive effect!
Don’t forget if you struggle to get your minimum required fruits and vegetables every day, our Double Shot is the ultimate combination of NZ-grown superfoods that your body will love.
Do a good deed
When you do something nice for someone else, your focus turns away from yourself and your own problems, and toward others and helping them feel good. When we give to others, it activates the areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust.
Kindness can be as simple as a smile, a thank you, or a word of encouragement. It could also be giving more of your time, such as offering to do someone’s grocery shopping, or volunteering in your community.
Get out in nature
Spending time in green spaces and bringing nature into your life can benefit your mental and physical wellbeing. It not only makes you feel better emotionally, it also contributes to your physical wellbeing; reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
One study in Mind, states that 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious, to more calm and balanced.
Live in the moment
If you’re feeling low, try to regulate your breathing and pay attention to what you can see, hear, and feel in the present. This will help you feel calm and bring you back into emotional balance. It also helps you appreciate the little things in your life. Read our blog on how to be grateful for the little things.
Look for sunshine
There’s something wonderful and uplifting about a sunny winter day. While getting too much sun can be harmful to your skin, not getting enough can negatively affect your mood.
Getting the right amount of sunshine helps you stave off seasonal patterns (formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD) and can help boost your mood, while helping you feel calm and focused. The sun is also our primary source of vitamin D which is important for good bones.
When the sun is shining, try to get 10-15 minutes on your skin. And remember to wear sunscreen!
You can be happier now by simply choosing to be happy. You already know what activities make you feel good, and what brings you joy, so do more of those things. As Robert Holden, PhD., author of a successful 8-week course on the development of happiness says “Live NOW – procrastinate later!”.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep loss can affect your mood, and your mood can affect how much and well you sleep. It can be a vicious cycle. There are lots of things you can try to improve your sleep quality and quantity. Read our blog on how to get a good night’s sleep. If you try all these things and you still can’t sleep, talk to your GP.
If your efforts to lift your mood aren’t working, or if a low mood is starting to affect your relationships, work, or school, then it would be worth talking to a medical professional and getting support from friends and family.
To find out how to get started on the shots, check out our Get Started page.