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10 instant mood boosters

We live in a busy time of constant change, stress and demands. For the average person, it’s common to experience short periods of mild depression during which abolishing a firm frown can seem near impossible. Your steep mood slump may be due to financial worries, pressure at work, relationship woes or perhaps a reason you may not even be able to pinpoint. Whatever the cause, the effects of said mood slump could not be less welcome.

Dr Timothy Sharp, also known as Dr Happy, is a clinical and coaching psychologist who, as founder and Chief Happiness Officer of the Happiness Institute, has dedicated his life to helping others find happiness. According to his latest book, 100 Ways to Happiness: A Guide for Busy People, there are myriad ways to get out of that depressive low patch. Here are 10 simple ways to instantly kick that sour mood to the kerb and get back into your regular groove.

1. Meditate

Meditation is known to decrease stress and anxiety levels and improve mental clarity, to help you solve whatever issues may be hindering your happiness. A recent study has shown that meditation produces a significant increase in activity in the left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions and optimism. “A short session of meditation is the perfect way to lift the blues,” says Dr Sharp. Try a simple breath meditation: sit up straight and focus on the breath entering and exiting your nostrils, noticing how it fills and empties your lungs, making your chest rise and fall. If busy thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and let them go. Five short minutes of breath meditation can immediately dissolve stress and anxiety and help you relax.

2. Laugh

Much research has shown that when it comes to short periods of depression, or feeling down, laughter is the best medicine. “After you laugh, you go into a relaxed state,” explains John Morreall, president of Humourworks Seminars in Florida. “Your blood pressure and heart rate drop below normal, so you feel profoundly relaxed. Laughter also indirectly stimulates endorphins.” Watch your favourite comedy film, hit the internet for funny video clips or, if you don’t have much time, remember something funny that has happened to you or tell a joke. Let yourself be amused, feel the joy and laugh out loud!

3. Listen to uplifting music

With direct access to the emotions, good music has great power to tweak your mood. “Listening to upbeat music and dancing along is a fantastic way to boost your mood,” says Dr Sharp. Good quality soundwaves are known to boost energy levels, reduce tension and relieve depression. To lift yourself out of a slow slump, play some quick-tempo tunes with positive lyrics to sing along to at moderate to high volume, and don’t hesitate to throw in a few spontaneous dance moves. Feeling low is associated with feelings of entrapment, so letting loose to some music is a great way to release inhibitions and free your mind.

4. Get moving

The benefits of exercise are widely known and yet widely neglected when it comes to brightening a dull day. In Dr Sharp’s 100 Ways to Happiness: A Guide for Busy People, he tells us not to underestimate the power of moving around, even if just for a few minutes. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, try taking a walk around the office and saying hello to your workmates, taking a stroll during your lunch break or getting up off that chair for some good-quality stretching. The mix of endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine dancing around in your brain after exercise is sure to improve your mood and encourage a positive outlook.

5. Call your best friend

Social interaction increases a sense of belonging and feeling appreciated. Social interaction within good relationships can “buffer against stress and depression and promote a positive mood,” says Dr Sharp. A conversation with your best friend is a reminder that you are loved, important and needed. Keep subject matter light and bubbly, discuss the latest gossip or laugh over funny memories you have shared with your friend. The simple act of calling this special person is also a practical reminder that they are always there for you and always willing to talk you out of your blue period. Social interaction has also been shown to mobilise energy stores to make you feel more vibrant and further improve your mood.

6. Perform an act of kindness

Being kind to others and lending a helping hand are great ways to boost your own spirits. Research shows that kind people experience more happiness and live more positively. Acts of kindness and happiness have, in fact, been shown to be reciprocal; the more satisfied an individual feels with themselves, the more likely they will be to selflessly help others, and the more an individual makes an effort to selflessly help others, the more worthwhile and satisfied they will feel in turn. Helping somebody else smile is a sure way to instantly get your smile glowing again!

7. Get blooming

Filling your surrounding environment with bright blooms is a great way to encourage a positive mood. Psychologist Sarah Calleja says, “Flowers help to make people feel alive and they lift our mood because they remind us of surviving and thriving. They bring positivity to the gloomiest of days.” Choose bright, blooming flowers with pleasant, uplifting aromas. The vibrant colours and scents will invigorate the senses, increase mental alertness and increase positive energy flow in an instant.

8. Light a scented candle

Scented candles are popular aromatherapy choices for the uplifting comfort and ambience they add to any environment. Aromatherapy expert Alan Keay explains, “The smell of something pleasant can elicit a positive reaction — a smile or a warm, cuddly feeling inside.” Recent studies have also proven aromatherapy induces meditative states, relieves stress and anxiety, and improves circulation. All these positive effects will help lessen the load weighing on your mind and body and leave you feeling uplifted and free to enjoy your new happy mood.

9. Have a cuppa

Beyond the comfort and solace it provides, drinking a warm cup of freshly brewed tea can have an enormous effect on your mood. A drink of tea can be very soothing in moments of stress or tension. Research shows the amino acid theanine, which is unique to tea, is responsible for relaxing and calming the mind and altering the levels of antidepressant neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. The fluctuation of blood sugar levels, known to induce anxiety, can also be modulated by drinking a simple cup of tea. Boost a sombre mood, awaken the senses, increase alertness and encourage energy flow by choosing a tea rich in flavour and aroma.

10. Count your blessings

Gratitude is very important when feeling low. Rather than concentrate on what is lacking and wrong in your life, be thankful for all you have and all that is right. Psychological studies show that being in a state of gratitude can increase optimism and happiness by up to 25 per cent. Dr Sharp says, “Try listing at least three things in your life you are truly grateful for to quickly get out of a negativity slump.” Life is great if you take the time to appreciate it!

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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