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5 Ways To Boost Your Mood

May 20 2021
4 min read
Woman looking up at the sky.

No doubt about it, bad times happen. You can fall into a rut. Boredom, lethargy, and the blues set in.

But, rest assured, there are simple way, which  happen to be enjoyable, to lift your mood and set you on a brighter path.

Let in the Light

When you can't spend time outside because of circumstances or weather, a lack of sunlight may reduce levels of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that, when low, can negatively affect your mood. In fact, this connection is at the crux of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that strikes at the same time each year, most often during the winter months when sunlight is weaker and lasts less time.

Be sure to take advantage of the sun when you can. Even a 10- to 15-minute break in the bright outdoors is bound to upgrade your attitude.

Eat Real Comfort Food

Studies show a possible correlation between improved disposition and omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, and B vitamins. There’s also evidence that those who tend to skip carbs are more likely to feel tired, tense, and grouchy, since carbohydrates help produce serotonin.

Your body's true “comfort foods” aren’t processed, sugary, salty, or high in fat. They're nutrient-rich foods such as leafy greens, lean red meat, fish, nuts, legumes and beans, and whole grains. And they're delicious.

Get Moving

Exercise always ranks on our list of healthy habits, and Duke University researchers were among the first to document the effect of exercise on depression: Study subjects who participated in 30 minutes of aerobic activity three times a week improved as much as those who took antidepressants.

Additional research backs up the connection, and experts concur that even occasional lows can benefit from exercise’s power to increase neurotransmitters and endorphins (the feel-good chemicals) in your brain. Consider a brisk walk or going for a bike ride when you're feeling down.

Tweak Your Surroundings

Behavioral scientists have noted a correlation between a person’s environment and relaxation, as well as intimacy, creativity, and productivity. For example, among one study’s participants, softly contoured furniture, semi-circular seating and high ceilings elicited more positive feelings than sharp-angled, rigidly arranged pieces, and low ceilings.

Another study found that truly good “mood lighting” may come from brighter lamps, as opposed to those that are dim. Beyond what research suggests, listen to your internal cues: Surround yourself with colors, items, scents, and sounds that encourage your sense of pleasure and comfort. You may also want to take cues from the ancient art of feng shui.

Turn to Your Pets

Pet owners consistently rave about the unconditional love of their furry friends. While their unabashed affection and happy attitudes are infectious, there’s more to those mood-boosting benefits. Experts say that taking care of an animal can help distract you from dwelling on negative feelings. Evening dog walks may get you acquainted with friendly neighbors. Plus, pets can be a constant source of amusement.

In addition, simply stroking a pet has been shown to lower blood pressure, which can help calm you. (It’s no wonder hospitals and nursing homes now encourage pet visits and employ therapy animals.) If you don’t have a pet, consider spending some time at a dog park, visiting a friend with a pet, or popping into a local animal shelter.