There are days when everything feels under control, life is running smoothly, you're feeling confident and happy to be doing what you're doing. But then there are other days when that's just not true. Being in a bad mood sometimes is part of life -- it's healthy and unavoidable. But that doesn't mean you have to stay in a bad mood. If your Monday sucks (or any day for that matter), try on these mood boosters.
1. Practice gratitude. Many studies suggest that gratitude positively impacts people psychologically and that people who report practicing gratitude also report feeling happier than people who don't. Keep a gratitude journal or a gratitude jar and just take note of things you feel grateful for when you think of it -- could be as simple as a perfect cup of coffee or the laughter of a child. Even on terrible, no good, very bad days, you can find something to feel grateful for if you take a moment to check in with the present moment and look around.
2. Do something, anything, mindfully. When we are mindfully engaged in an activity, we focus our attention exclusively on the present moment. We let go of worries about tomorrow and regrets about the past. It's just about what we are doing. This could be as simple as mindfully washing the dishes or a hobby like surfing or running, or just engaging in a mindful way in an every day task like mindfully eating a grapefruit and really tapping into that sensory experience rather than eating mindlessly (I have a bizarre affection for grapefruit that most don't share so substitute something else that you enjoy and please don't eat a grapefruit mindfully if you don't like it.)
3. Get up and move. It's easy to live a sedentary life but it's not good for your brain chemistry. Exercise isn't just good for your body. It releases endorphins which are natural mood boosters and it enhances your psychological health. It also requires a certain level of mindfulness and being in the present which is an added perk. Don't make this hard -- if you can't hit the gym, that's okay. Maybe all you can do is squeeze in five minutes of yoga, stretch in the morning, or take a walk at lunch. Anything is better than nothing at all. Get up, move and feel good about having made the time for it, even if it is something small. Every little bit helps.
4. Eat something nourishing and healthy. I'm a therapist, not a nutritionist. My concern is not your weight. Our brains require nutrients to keep our brain chemistry aligned so make sure that you are getting vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy carbohydrates. Notice what it feels like in your body to eat nourishing foods. When you eat something healthy, it does more than just regulate your brain chemistry. It's an affirmation and a kindness towards yourself -- you are worthy of being nourished properly. Reward yourself with healthy food. You're more than worth it.
5. Dream sweet dreams -- make sleep a priority. Sleep also helps regulate brain chemistry. People don't function well without it because their brain requires it to operate properly. It's tempting to stay up late routinely getting work done, but you may find that you are more efficient at work and all around better able to function if you allow yourself to get the sleep you ned instead. It is so tempting to Netflix binge at the expense of a good night's sleep, but you will pay for it in terms of your mood and psychological health if you consistently skimp on sleep.
6. Go outside. Go to the beach if you can. There's all kinds of research about how being outside in nature increases people's sense of well-being ( I have a whole blog post about the healing power of the ocean on here). But no matter where you are, it's grounding to feel the sun, breathe fresh air, and connect to the world outside. It may seem silly, but I highly encourage you to go outside and notice the world around you regardless of where you are. It may improve your mood more than you think.
7. Take five slow deep breaths. Breathe in, breathe out. Five times. Slowly, calmly, deeply. That is all. It takes less than a minute and you may notice your mood improve instantly especially if you're feeling anxious. It's that simple.
8. Reach out to a friend and let them be there for you. This is surprisingly hard for some people. They don't want to "burden others." But guess what? It's the opposite. People like to feel needed. They want you to reach out to them for support when you need it. Be clear about what you want from them. If you're not looking for feedback but need to vent, let them know that in advance so that they understand how they can be there for you. Sometimes, people try to fix it when you just want them to listen. If you want someone to listen, ask them to.
9. Do something kind for someone else. I was in a grumpy mood on a morning run and found that someone had taken the bags of poop out of the trash can and thrown them all over the bike path. I ran past it with disgust. But then on the way back, I stopped running and picked up the bags filled with poop and put them back in the trash. There were probably 20-30 of them. Oddly, it felt really good to clean up the shit (literally). And as I did it, I thought about the person who made that mess and how much pain they must be in to want to do something like that. I felt grateful that I wasn't in that place. I likely saved at least one runner or bicyclist from stepping in poo. That felt surprisingly good to me and was so quick and easy. Doing something kind, whether it be delivering a compliment or a kind act, is almost always a huge mood booster.
10. Give a hug. This isn't touchy-feely Care Bears stuff. Hugs are scientifically proven to be potent. Hugs can actually help regulate our parasympathetic nervous system which means it calms you down. Our bodies also release hormones that elevate our experience of happiness when we hug someone. Just to be clear, by hug, I do not mean a polite pat on the back. That's not a hug. Give someone a good long sincere hug and hold it a little longer than you usually do. It will boost your mood and likely boost somebody else's too.
Finally, if none of this works or you're feeling dark and gloomy more often than not, therapy can help. Please reach out -- I am happy to help and if I am not the right therapist for you, I will help you find someone who is.