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Easy ways to lift your mood

August 8, 2012

These are 10 instant mood boosters.

FEATURE

Feeling down in the dumps? Sometimes we don’t have the time to spend a day at the spa or invite friends and family over to de-stress and cheer us up, so we’ve compiled a list of quick tricks to give you a no-prescription-required burst of bliss in a jiffy.

Here are 10 instant ways to boost your mood:

Soak in a warm bath or have a mug of warm tea

Who doesn’t love a good soak in the bath? A study by Yale University revealed that relaxing amongst the bubbles does more than simply relax and refresh our bodies. In fact, a warm bath or shower can act as an effective substitute for social interaction when we’re feeling lonely. The researchers from Yale University questioned 51 students about their everyday routines and their emotions, which revealed that those who regularly soaked in a warm bath and had hot drinks felt happier than those who had quick showers and very few hot drinks. If you need a quick pick-me-up, have a soak in the bath. If you need an even quicker pick-me-up, simply make yourself a warm drink for an instantly better mood.

Boost your brain’s happy chemicals with snacks

Sometimes when we’re feeling down, a good serving of mood-boosting nutrients is all we need. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh carried out a study in which they took blood tests from 106 healthy adults and measured their happiness. The study revealed that those with higher levels of omega 3 in their blood were 49 to 58 per cent happier than those with lower omega 3 levels.  Chocolate is an excellent mood booster too. The high levels of serotonin, alongside many other ‘happy chemicals’, promote feelings of contentment. “A square of chocolate a day keeps the sadness away” – that’s our new motto.

Ladies, sniff his dirty laundry

This is one for the ladies, and one we must admit is pretty bizarre. According to the Biology of Reproduction journal, smelling your man’s dirty laundry is an instant mood booster. Strange, right? It gets even weirder. The researchers who proved this fact carried out the study by putting the perspiration of a deodorant-free man onto the upper lips of women, who reported that they felt much happier than before. Who knew the laundry basket could make you smile so much? Researchers suggest that the smell of their partner’s perspiration makes women feel a sense of comfort and familiarity, ultimately lifting their mood. So ladies, next time you need a quick boost, simply head on over to the laundry basket for a quick mood boost. Just don’t let him catch you.

Flip through the photo album

A researcher from the Open University carried out a test on volunteers to determine how television, alcohol, music and flicking through photographs affected their moods. The outcome of the experiment is surprising; television made no difference to the volunteers’ moods; alcohol and music raised happiness levels by one per cent; and flicking through a photograph album made the volunteers’ moods rise by an impressive 11 per cent. Looking at photographs of good times and those closest to us brings about feelings of comfort and happiness, which brightens up our day and makes us feel content. We don’t tend to reach for the photograph album on a daily basis, so why not invest in a digital photo frame that flicks through your photos and keep it in the place where you spend most of your time?

Calming scents

A great way to instantly boost your mood when you have little time is to keep an essential oil close-by. When you’re feeling down essential oils can make you feel more positive, calmer and less anxious. Researchers in Austria tested volunteers’ moods before and after they inhaled calming scents such as lavender and oranges and noticed a significant rise in their moods after inhaling the oils. The participants reported that they felt less anxious and more upbeat compared to before. If you’re having a deadline-packed day at work, or you’re feeling a little jittery about something else, simply putting a few drops of essential oil on a tissue or use a reed diffuser to disperse your favourite scent through the room and make you feel a whole lot better instantly.

Open the curtains

The sun plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing and not getting enough of it can make us feel pretty miserable. In fact, some of us can suffer from lack of sunlight so much in the chilly winter months that we suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you’re suffering from a low mood, don’t sit in with the curtains closed feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, open the blinds as soon as possible to let the sunlight come flooding in. This will boost your mood instantly. Combining exercise with natural light can boost your happiness even more, according to experts. Indeed, a light researcher from the University of Toronto suggests that combining exercise with natural daylight amplifies the effect that natural lighting has on your mood. Exercise outside instead of at the gym to reap the benefits of natural daylight. Hello world!

Quick thinking

Studies have proven that rapid thinking boosts our mood in an instant. Indeed, researchers from Harvard and Princeton universities carried out a study on two groups of people, which involved carrying out tasks such as watching the television, reading, and solving problems at different speeds. The group who carried out tasks quicker than usual were the group who felt most happy. This is because fast thinking makes our brains release the dopamine chemical which enhances our mood. If you’re trying to get a task done at work, set yourself a particular time to do it by, put your brain in fast-motion mode, and get thinking. You’ll feel a sense of purpose and achievement, which in turn, will boost your mood in an instant.

Smile, even if it’s the last thing you feel like

It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re down, and smiling when you feel like screaming can feel unnatural, but just try it. Experts suggest that how we act physically can affect how we feel emotionally. Psychologists at the University of Cardiff recently discovered that those who have an inability to frown because of botox injections feel much happier than those whose muscles allow them to frown. It appears that our emotions aren’t restricted to our brain, as acting happy will make our brain feel happy too. As well as this, smiling means that people will subsequently want to talk to you more, leading to you making more friends and being a generally happier person. Go on, crack a smile and see how it makes you feel.

Take a moment to gather your thoughts

Our moods tend to dip when we’re focusing on one thing that’s stressing us out. Next time you feel like you’re in a bad mood, simply move away from your immediate environment and take a moment to zone out. Researchers monitored babies’ behaviours and discovered that when they were over-stimulated with too many toys and books, they simply turned away. When the babies’ mothers recognised this behaviour, they gave them time out from playing to sleep and realised that their babies were happier and much easier to deal with. Once you’ve moved away from your immediate environment, think about your plans for the weekend or your holiday that’s booked way in advance. Simply recognising when your brain is over-stimulated and reacting accordingly can boost your mood in an instant.

Watch a funny clip

The internet is packed with funny video footage of everything from dancing cats to bad audition tapes and even dogs on skateboards. When you’re feeling stressed and down, taking five minutes out to watch a funny video will help you to relax, take your day less seriously, and release some natural feel-good chemicals at the same time. Indeed, laughter releases endorphins that relieve anxiety and make you feel upbeat. Experts suggest that laughter also leaves your muscles relaxed for up to 40 minutes afterwards too, so it really is a great way to perk up your day. A good dose of the giggles is infectious and makes you even happier when you’re with others, so get some friends or colleagues together and watch a funny clip to boost everyone’s mood.  Now where’s that clip of the grandma on a motorbike…

LINKS

Five foods to beat the blues

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