If you are finding yourself in bit of a rut, try out these tips to lift your mood and spirit!
Foster gratitude daily
I’ve mentioned gratitude so many times as I’m a firm believer that gratitude practice can heal almost any issue, but I’ll say it again. And so will researchers from Eastern Washington University! In their study1 they found that people who practice gratitude usually have three traits and they are: “(1) feel like they have a sense of wealth, (2) appreciation of simple pleasures,
and (3) appreciate the contribution of others to their well-being.”
(1) is AWESOME because who doesn’t want to feel like their life is full of abundance?
(2) is fantastic as the simple pleasures of life include things like having a coffee, finding a parking spot, eating your favourite food, etc. So basically these things happen frequently, which means you are more likely to feel grateful more often!
(3) is great because humans are social beings – we are surrounded by people and their contributions daily. An example is: being grateful that someone held the train door open for you (instead of going and finding a seat for himself) as he saw you running down the steps – this can significantly contribute to your wellbeing as it prevents the heightened stress you might’ve experienced from missing your train!
Commit to your hobbies
A study2 published in the journal of Anxiety, Stress & Coping found that engaging in leisure time was an effective coping mechanism in a sample population of college students. And it really makes sense, doesn’t it? Doing what you like, such as DIY crafting, occupies your time and mind on something fun and enjoyable, thus taking you away from your stressor (whatever if
bringing your spirits down). And the point of this isn’t just to occupy your time with something, but to do something you really enjoy; that way you should end up feeling loads better.
Mr DJ, Play that track!
Before I commenced my studies, I really wondered how music could make you feel better. I always felt like music was something like a hobby, rather than a powerful force full of emotion-evoking properties – ha! But in the process of studying psychology and coming across ‘music psychology’, it made a bit more sense.
As discussed in The Oxford Handbook of Music
Psychology3, listening to music mostly induces positive emotions (as we tend to listen to songs we like), while some tracks can obviously can induce negative emotions, or even evoke a sensation of deep relaxation. Here’s a bit of a personal story – I once thought that listening to classical music would help me concentrate when I study (and most classical songs do), however there were some compositions which made me feel so relaxed that I couldn’t study anymore. I’m the type of person who, when I realise I’ve lost the zone of concentration and cant get back into it, I just satisfy the need to relax instead of spending more time trying to re-focus. So, for example, knowing which type of classical music suits me is really important, as productivity is quite high on my priority list!
When thinking in the context of uplifting your mood, music can be a cloudy topic as everyone responds differently to various types of tunes. My advice would be to get to know yourself – look into different genres of music and find which type makes you feel like your spirits are as high as the sky!
Bring out those scents!
A study4 published in the journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology was set out to discover whether the proposed effects of aromatherapy are true, as the alternative therapy seems to still experience controversy due to the limited efficacy data. Well guess what – this study found that lemon oil reliably enhanced a positive mood state. Try a lemon-scented candle, a lemon lip-balm (the scent is right
under your nose), or you could even peel some lemons and place the lemon-skin around your room for some natural aromas.
Exercise is one of the best remedies to lift your spirit as the process of exercise releases the hormones dopamine and serotonin – the happy hormones. Better yet, a mere 15 minutes of a preferred exercise (whether it’s a Zumba class or an intense session of HIIT) was found to evoke positive mood changes, according to a study5 published in the Journal of Sport
Behaviour. So when you’re feeling down, just get moving and wait for the happy hormones to do their magic!
1Watkins, P. C., Woodward, K., Stone, T., & Kolts, R. L. (2003). Gratitude and Happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude, and relationships with subjective well-being. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 31(5), 431-452.
2Iwasaki, Y. (2003). Roles of Leisure in Coping with Stress Among University Students: A Repeated-Assessment Field Study. Anxiety, stress, and coping, 16(1), 31-57.
3The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology can be found here https://books.google.com.au/books?id=uho2CwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA197&ots=PZ8_qxMUH3&lr&pg=PA198#v=onepage&q&f=false
4Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Graham, J. E., Malarkey, W. B., Porter, K., Lemeshow, S., & Glaser, R. (2008). Olfactory influences on mood and autonomic, endocrine, and immune function. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33(3), 328-339.
5Berger, B. G., Darby, L. A., Yu, Z., Owen, D. R., & Tobar, D. A. (2016). Mood Alteration After 15 Minutes of Preferred Intensity Exercise: Examining Heart Rate, Perceived Exertion, and Enjoyment. Journal Of Sport Behavior, 39(1), 3-21.