It’s a natural part of life to feel down, or stressed sometimes, but you don’t have to let that feeling overwhelm you. Making small changes to your routine can help you boost your mood.
Stress can sometimes seem unavoidable. From job responsibilities and school commitments to car troubles and financial concerns, stressors can seem lurk around every corner. These stressors can take a serious toll on our mental health if we don’t take steps to look after ourselves. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to help manage your stress and improve your mood in the process. The added bonus? These strategies work fast and have the potential to positively impact your life long-term as well. From getting adequate sleep to carving out time for yourself every day—and everything in between—there are plenty of simple tricks that can help quickly boost your mood and help you better cope with stress.
Go for a walk
If you’re feeling stressed, frustrated, or anxious, a walk outside can be just what you need. Research shows that taking a walk can reduce feelings of stress, anger, and anxiety as well as produce feelings of greater well-being and optimism. And it’s not just a walk in the park that delivers these benefits—a walk in an urban environment can provide similar psychological benefits as compared to a walk in a natural environment. But why does going for a walk have this impact? First, it gives you an opportunity to step away from whatever is causing you stress and clear your head. Next, it gets your blood flowing and gives you a chance to break out of your normal routine and break the cycle of stress and anxiety. And lastly, it gives you a chance to connect with nature if that’s something you’re interested in. Overall, a walk provides a quick and easy way to manage stress and boost positive emotions.
Next on the list is meditation. If you’ve never tried this before, you may be wondering what’s so great about sitting quietly and doing nothing. But it’s actually a very powerful way to help manage stress and boost your mood. While it’s true that meditation can help you reduce your stress, it actually doesn’t do this directly. Rather, it works by increasing your feelings of self-awareness and encouraging you to “step outside of yourself” a bit. What this means is that instead of getting caught up in your thoughts and worries, you’ll be able to shift your focus and become more aware of your present-moment experience. Over time, you’ll be better equipped to redirect yourself when your thoughts start to spiral out of control.
Practice breathing exercises
If you’ve ever been stressed out—no matter what age you are—chances are you’ve heard about the benefits of deep breathing. Deep breathing exercises are a simple (and inexpensive) way to help lower your stress and anxieties. What’s more, research has shown that practicing breathing exercises on a regular basis can actually change your brain and make you more resilient to stress in the long run. If you’re looking for a simple breathing exercise, try inhaling deeply for 6 seconds and exhaling for 10 seconds. Repeat this for 5 minutes and see how you feel. What’s more, you can even try adding a visualization where you imagine a positive outcome to your current situation. This can help you feel more in control and help you relax.
Write in a journal
When you write in a journal, you have the chance to let out your feelings and process your experiences on a deeper level. In other words, journaling offers you an outlet for your emotions, which is something that we often lack in our day-to-day lives. What’s more, journaling can actually help you manage stress. One study found that people who wrote about their daily stressors for 5-10 minutes reduced their stress levels by up to 47% compared to people who didn’t journal. What’s the science behind this? When you journal, you give your brain an opportunity to process your emotions and thoughts. And when you do this regularly, it gives your brain a chance to rest and recharge. Essentially, journaling gives your mind a break, which can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Have dinner with friends or family
When we’re stressed or feeling overwhelmed, it can be hard to step away from our problems and connect with others. But research shows that social support can have powerful benefits for your mental health and can even help improve your physical health too. What’s more, simply having dinner with friends or family members can provide these benefits. You don’t even have to talk about your problems if you don’t want to. Instead, focus on having a good time and connecting with others.
Eat Healthy Foods
Eating healthy, refreshing foods can help to improve your health and boost your mood. Eating too much processed food and not consuming many fresh fruits or vegetables can lead to a sluggish metabolism, nutrient deficiency and may lead to cognitive decline. Have you heard the phrase “eat the rainbow?” I’m not talking about candy! Fruits and vegetables come in so many beautiful colors and those colors are indications of some of their powerful phytonutrients that can help support your health and boost your mood. From lycopene in red tomatoes, carotenoids and vitamin A in orange and yellow vegetables, chlorophyll in green vegetables such as broccoli and green, leafy vegetables and anthocyanins in blue and purple fruits and vegetables such as berries and plums.
Staying hydrated is key for proper brain function. Even mild dehydration can affect our mood and disrupt cognitive functioning. Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. Sugary and caffeinated drinks, while they can give a quick boost to or mood, should be consumed in moderation. These days while bottled water is available everywhere, you can help reduce waste and stay hydrated by taking your own water with you when you are away from home with one of the many options to sip as you go. There are even options that let you add fresh fruit to infuse your water for a natural flavor boost.
Get a massage
Not only is getting a massage relaxing and enjoyable, but it can also have a significant impact on your stress levels. In fact, getting a massage has been shown to significantly reduce your stress levels by upwards of 60%—compared to just 5% if you simply take a hot bath or go for a walk. What’s more, getting a massage can also help improve your sleep and reduce feelings of anxiety. In fact, receiving a massage has been shown to have similar effects on your body as taking an anxiety medication. What’s the science behind this? Basically, massages stimulate your nervous system and release certain hormones that can have an impact on your mood and overall state of mind.
Take care of your body with exercise
Exercising helps you reduce your stress levels, improve your mood, and improve your physical health. Basically, when you exercise, you’re stimulating your body and breathing more deeply. This increases your oxygen and endorphin levels, which can have a significant impact on your mood. What’s more, regular exercise can actually reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, this can help you feel less stressed and anxious by giving your body the rest it needs. There are so many different ways to exercise. Find ways to incorporate exercise and fun, physical activities, such as yoga, dancing or your favorite sports into your daily and weekly routines.
When it comes to improving your mood, you have plenty of options. From changing up your daily routine to connecting with others and even trying new activities, there are tons of ways to boost your mood and help you feel more positive—no matter what’s stressing you out. So if you’re feeling stressed out and need a mood boost, try any of these 9 Natural Ways to Boost Your Mood. But remember, these strategies will only be effective if you put them into action. If you want to improve your mental health, you have to make a change. Whether it’s something as simple as going for a walk or taking a break from your daily routine or reaching out to connect with people socially, there are lots of ways to help manage your stress and feel better.