We have all had those days. You know….that kind of day where you wake up and feel just….not happy. There’s several degrees of this unwelcome visitor, ranging from “my mood is a little off” to “I will just stay in bed and wait for tomorrow, and try this again”. Regardless of the severity of this depressed state, it is not permanent and you are not helpless to change it. There are several things you can do throughout your day to alleviate this state of mind, and lighten your mood. I will go into greater depth on each of these points in future blogs, but here are the basics of the top five on my list:
1. Get Moving. Physical movement is proven by science and tradition to promote positive feelings. Notice I did not use the word “exercise”. If you want to get up and go for that morning jog, more power to you. Studies have proven, however, that even moderate movement can get improve our mood by generating chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with your brain’s chemical receptors to reduce the perception of pain and trigger a general feeling of wellbeing. Walking, stretching, yoga, and other very basic forms of movement can have a great impact when incorporated into your daily life.
2. Get Outside. Exposure to sunlight is good for you. Obviously, we do not want to overdo it when it comes to exposure to the sun, especially if your skin is not used to it, and caution and common sense must be used. Being in sunlight allows your body to create vitamin D, which is proven to improve mood as well as overall body health. In addition to the benefits of sunlight, just being outside and in the world has a positive impact on one’s mental state. In climates or seasons where sunlight is in short supply, full spectrum lighting can be used in place of the sun to combat the effects of depression brought on by SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
3. Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. The old saying “You are what you eat” (and drink) applies not only to your body but to your mind as well. Healthy diet = healthy body = healthy mind. By eating healthy and staying hydrated, you are providing your mind and body with the nutrients that it needs to perform at its peak levels. An emerging area of study called gastro-biological psychiatry looks at the connection between our mood/emotions and the presence of microbiota in our bodies. New research has indicated that some probiotics may actually be able to influence a positive mood.
4. Smile More. The act of smiling is well known to promote positive feelings in our minds and bodies, and improve our overall outlook on life. Instead of waiting to be happy and then smiling, try smiling first. It just may help you to feel a bit happier.
5. Get the right amount of quality sleep. Recent studies have found correlations between the amount of sleep we get and our emotional health. Too little sleep not only impairs our cognition during the waking hours, but it also negatively impacts our mood. At the same time, too much sleep can also have a negative effect on our health. The amount of sleep we need can vary from person to person, but on average adults need between 6 and 8 hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep is a difficult thing for many people to do these days, and people’s individual situations vary greatly. Developing a healthy sleep routine that works for you is critical to overall health of both mind and body.
So there you have it. Five things you can begin to incorporate right now into your life, to help you move into a more positive state of mind. As I mentioned above, I will go into each of these topics in greater depth in my future blogs. For now, hopefully this has provided you with some basics to start with.