Everyone experiences periods when they feel unhappy, restless, lonely, or irritable. Some may even feel depressed. There are some simple things you can do to lift your mood.
Why you need to take care of your mood
Depression and loneliness are now the leading cause of mental health problems. People in these situations find it difficult to concentrate at work and may have problems caring for their children. Loneliness can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease, poor sleep, and general cognitive decline. But the good news is, there are simple daily practices, as well as longer-term solutions, which science has shown can positively affect the mood.
Simple short-term tricks
These are some things you can do to elevate your mood:
- Smile: Smiling, in itself, triggers mood-boosting hormones in your brain. So, even if you don’t feel happy, simply putting a smile on your face would make you start to feel more positive
- Put on music: Music can reduce anxiety and boost your mood. Put on your favorite album, and you will notice yourself humming, smiling, or even dancing!
- Be in the moment: If you’re feeling low, try to regulate your breathing and focus your mind on the breathing process — your chest rising and falling or the air entering your lungs. Then, pay attention to what you can see, hear, and feel at the present moment. This will help you to feel calm and bring you back into emotional balance
- Wear something nice: Even when you’re at home all day, putting on some clothes you love will instantly lift your mood and make you feel ready for the day ahead
- Tidy up: Your mind may feel a little more resolved when you keep your environment neat. So, make some time, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, to tidy your environment
- Write a diary: Writing can help you to process your own emotions and feelings
- Take a walk: If you are feeling stressed or worried, take a short walk outside. Removing yourself from a situation can raise your mood and calm you down. Moreover, an early morning walk helps to regulate cortisol, the stress hormone
Try these with an open mind. You can practice some of them every morning or use them as a reset button to start a new task. Start with the ones you feel most comfortable with, or that are easiest for you.
Simple steps in interacting with others
Interacting with others can also boost your mood. Research has shown that social connection generally has a protective effect against depression. Try these simple tricks when you talk to someone:
- Make them smile: Making a friend smile is a great way to improve your day. Send them a funny video online. You can also text them to ask how they are doing
- Help them with something: Research shows that helping other people helps lift your mood
- Smile at a stranger: It can make someone’s day and will also leave you feeling warm inside
- Connect with others: We are social creatures and need the company of other humans to feel happy, content, and valued. It doesn’t matter whether you meet up face to face or talk on the phone, connecting with other people helps to bring you out of yourself
Here are some daily routines that can help maintain your mental health:
- Exercise regularly: Exercise causes a surge of endorphins – substances in the brain that give a natural high. In addition, it is known to boost levels of feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin
- Drink more water: Dehydration can distort the balance of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which, in turn, can increase feelings of low mood, anxiety, or depression. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day
- Eat Healthily: Eating a well-balanced diet is vital for your mental wellbeing. Consuming a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients equips your body and brain with the fuel they need to function properly. Ensure your diet is rich in whole grains, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts
- Ensure you get enough sleep every night: A lack of sleep can affect your mood, energy, and concentration levels
- Reduce your alcohol intake: Cutting down on alcohol, or stopping it altogether, will help boost your energy levels. Drinking too much alcohol has been associated with poor mental health, reduced satisfaction with life, and increased psychological distress
- Observe your mood: Monitor yourself to know your likes and dislikes, and try to do more of those things that make you happy. Moreover, observing your daily moods helps you know when it drops for a significant period of time so you can seek help
By investing some energy in taking care of yourself, you’ll begin to value yourself and desire to keep yourself happy. Treat yourself with love and respect, the same way you would treat a loved one.
Seek help if you’ve tried and failed to elevate your mood with our tips or if you feel continuous emptiness, sadness, loss of interest in normal activities, or sleep/eating disturbances. Talk to someone you can trust or seek professional help. Mental health disorders can be treated with medication and counseling, even during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Thank you note
This article about ways to elevate your mood was made in collaboration and with the support of the Pranaiya & Arthur Magoffin Foundation — Better Well-Being for Parents & Babies.
Ketsupa Jirakarn (Mental health specialist) (1 August 2022)