Healthy Ways to Boost Your Mood

Feeling the winter blahs? Spring is right around the corner—but you don’t have to wait to feel better! Here are 17 simple things you can do today to feel happier.

  1. Eat fresh. Studies show that trans fats—typically found in processed food—can lower energy levels and mood. Most experts recommend a lower fat diet rich in fish and lean protein, legumes and veggies.
  2. Make time for friends. A study by the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland found that seeing loved ones in person reduces the risk of depression in ways that phoning, emailing and texting don’t. Face time 3 times a week yielded the best results.
  3. Let it go. Hassles and frustrations are part of everyday life, but research shows higher levels of harmful inflammation in people who stress over little things than in those who can take it in stride and remain calm.
  4. Light a candle. Research finds that the warm, rich scent of vanilla, for example, produces powerful feelings of joy and relaxation. You could also get a plug-in diffuser for essential oils like lavender and peppermint if you have concerns about the toxicity of some candles or the risk of having an open flame.
  5. Cry. Sometimes we just need to let it out! Crying offers physical and emotional release, and a recent study found people were in a better mood within 90 minutes of a good sob.
  6. Go barefoot. Walking around without shoes can improve your balance and posture, and standing up straight is an automatic mood booster. Some shoes actually promote shin splints, bursitis and other painful issues—if you’re wearing these types of shoes, it’s a sure bet that kicking them off will improve your mood!
  7. Seek help if you need it. Some people really suffer from a lack of daylight in winter, a condition known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Whether it’s related to the season or not, if your sadness seem to be more than a simple case of the blues, see a professional.
  8. Pay it forward. New research from Yale School of Medicine shows that even small acts of kindness may relieve stress. Try opening the door for someone, or even just sharing a smile.Doing good = feeling good.
  9. Listen to sad music. That may sound counterproductive, and certainly listening to upbeat music has its place too, but researchers in the UK and Ireland found that sad but well-performed, melodic music (think Adele) can help get rid of the blues. It may be because appreciating the music’s quality and message has a positive effect on the brain.
  10. Walk outdoors. A Japanese study revealed forest landscapes are therapeutic and reduce stress. There’s actually a name—forest bathing—to describe the serenity walking quietly in the woods and observing. Some may enjoy the beach, mountains or dessert, but almost all experts agree that walking outside is a sure mood booster.
  11. Don’t work too hard. German researchers recently studied how working overtime can be so stressful that it’s not worth the extra cash.
  12. Eat produce. According to researchers in New Zealand, eating 7 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day can help you feel calmer and happier—even into the next day!
  13. Take a break from social media. Recent research shows that people who unplugged from Facebook for one week felt more satisfied with their lives than those who didn’t. The theory is that when we’re not so focused on the lives of others, we don’t feel as pressured to match their accomplishments, and we feel more appreciative of our own.
  14. Walk the walk. A recent study determined that simply by walking in an upbeat manner—by swinging your arms and rolling your shoulders back as you stroll—can make you feel more positive.
  15. Practice gratitude. There are many ways to focus on being grateful, so here’s one—writing letters to thank treasured people in your life is an instant mood booster.
  16. Don’t over-exercise. It’s been shown that extended periods of intense exercise can lead to poor sleep patterns, which is a known mood buster. While exercise is a healthy endeavor, it’s not good to overdo it. Taking a break is OK too.
  17. Give yourself permission to be happy. Research in New Zealand found that some folks aren’t happy simply because they’re afraid to be, as if allowing themselves to feel good is tempting fate and inviting bad things to happen. If this is you, don’t spend your time waiting for the other shoe to drop. Remember that you deserve a happy life!

Source: “17 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs,” by Lisa Mulcahy, Spry Living February 2016.

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Category : Blog Posted on February 10, 2016

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