There’s no avoiding a bad mood every once in a while. Stress piles up, the weather’s bad, or you’ve gotten in a fight with someone you love. Suddenly, it feels like a dark gray cloud is hanging over your head.
How do you shake that cloud off?
Studies of mood-boosting activities have come to show that there are, in fact, certain science-backed tips for getting your endorphins flowing. Here are our favorites — try them out the next time you’re in need of a mood boost!
Exercising, whether taking a walk or running a marathon, increases serotonin levels in the brain, which results in a better mood. It can also help reduce anxiety and mild to moderate depression. What’s more, exercising can be a social activity, and spending time with other people can help lift your spirits as well. It’s a common misconception that in order to reap the benefits of exercise, you need to be pushing it to the max. But in reality, even just 10-15 minutes of light to moderate exercise can be the difference between a good day and a bad one.
Meditation is one of the oldest tricks in the mood-boosting book. It’s especially effective for combating stress, an issue that runs rampant for most Americans. Meditation involves finding a quiet space, concentrating on breathing, and focusing inward for about 10-15 minutes (and longer, once you’ve established a rhythm). Meditating is known to help people achieve inner peace, which can soothe anxiety and negative emotions that bog down your mood.
Take care of something.
This can mean a pet, a loved one, or even a plant. It’s been proven that devoting time and energy to helping others — even if that means nurturing a plant with a little sun and soil — can help if your mood starts to go south. Oh, and be sure to take care of yourself, too! It’s okay to indulge in self-care. (In fact, it’s recommended).
Eat some chocolate.
Yes, this is actually science-backed. The ingredients found in small amounts of dark chocolate are proven to have mood-boosting effects; one of them is phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator that regulates mood, as well as antioxidants, which can help battle symptoms of depression.
Dance like nobody’s watching.
If running or lifting weights isn’t really your thing, you can still get moving to stimulate feel-good chemicals in your brain by dancing. Turn up your favorite song and bust a move — you’ll feel better, we promise.
Unfortunately for those of us who live glued to our computers and phones (and that’s pretty much all of us, last time we checked), there is a link between more hours of daily screen time and lower psychological well-being. To combat this, try setting timers on your electronics and taking regular breaks from your screens. You should also avoid looking at your devices at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light from the screen can mess with your sleep cycle, causing your mood to go from bad to worse!
Soak in the sun.
Sunshine triggers the brain to release serotonin, a chemical responsible for feelings of happiness, calm and focus. It also helps the production of Vitamin D, which is responsible for bone health and can even play a role in warding off certain cancers.
Check out our blog for other tips on maintaining a positive attitude, even when the going gets tough.