5 science-backed ways to boost your mood on lockdown
With the lockdown extended it can be increasingly difficult to stay positive so I wanted to write about some ways to help boost your mood to help start your week off.
It’s completely ok to be feeling low, weird + exhausted whatever your circumstances. We are all coping with loss, change + stress in our own lives and for many of us our usual ways of coping have disappeared. Research has shown there is a huge impact on our mental health in these times and to expect people to suffer with the impact of the stress so I just wanted to reassure you that it is completely normal if you are struggling and feeling a little low.
So here are some tips to help boost your mood:
MAKE USE OF YOUR DAILY HOUR OUTSIDE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
Spending as much time as you can outside (within government regulations) a is a game changer. Nature benefits mood. It could be a walk around the block, sitting in your garden, working by an open window but if you can get to some green space studies have shown that there are real psychological benefits for people with depression. Look for the signs of spring and take some time to listen to birds, watch insects buzzing about and focus on the detail of trees and flowers. Walking tall, shoulders back, eyes up all help a positive mood too. Fake it till you make it!
MOVE YOUR BODY - GO ONLINE TO EXERCISE WHERE YOU CAN
We all know exercise is good for us physically, but it’s a great mood-booster, too. Even a small change in activity has been shown to make a difference to our happiness so finding a way to exercise from home is a great plan. Trying out some of the enormous range of online exercise, dance, yoga or pilates classes is a really brilliant way to lift your mood and burn some of those comfort calories! Here is a list of a few suggestions.
STAY IN CONTACT BUT TUNE OUT SOME OF THE NOISE
A key way to reduce feelings of isolation is staying in touch with family, friends and colleagues. Just a WhatsApp to say how you are doing or to check in with someone else is a great way to stay connected. Try to facetime, call or message at least one person every day. But keep in mind that mood can be picked up from friends so maybe Zoom call your cheery friend every once in a while to get a boost from them – happiness really is contagious.
While it is important to feel informed and to be up to date with official announcements from the Government and advice from NHS England the sheer noise around the pandemic, the scare stories and all the different opinions can be really stressful and overwhelming.
Know what is and what isn’t helpful for you. Work out whether it is helpful for you to reduce some noise: limit your news intake, try to find some good news stories, don’t focus on the negative headlines, mute some WhatsApp groups explaining your taking a break for a bit and putting an Out Of Office on your email can all help you have a mental break.
KINDNESS AND GRATITUDE REALLY HELP
The outpouring of kindness, generosity and community spirit has been a wonderful reminder of our universal humanity. In a study walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection. It’s a strategy that doesn’t take a lot of time that you can incorporate into your daily activities. They found that people who practised loving-kindness or wished others well felt happier, more connected, caring and empathetic, as well as less anxious.
This is as simple as it sounds and we can all do it while we are socially distancing. Look at someone passing by in the street, smile at them, and think to yourself: “I wish for this person to be happy.”
Finding the small pleasures in life and counting our blessings are all mindful ways of increasing our gratitude that can change our perspective completely helping us to find happiness in the place and space we find ourselves in. People feel and express gratitude in lots of ways: past blessings, not taking things for granted, remaining hopeful. Getting your thoughts down on paper, taking a daily photo of one thing you’re happy about, noticing a small pleasure you are grateful for that day are a few ideas to help you tune into what we can be grateful for without having to leave the house.
5 EAT AS HEALTHILY AS YOU CAN
Increasing your fruit and veg, eating as healthily as you can improves your mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. 7 a day helps happiness and mental health - so start that shopping list.
Nutrients also help with stress management by improving brain functioning. Some specific nutrients play a very important role in reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenalin in the body and also the stress chemicals that activate fight and flight response. Try to eat: complex carbohydrates, proteins (Tryptophan, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Theanine) Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, Magnesium, and Selenium. These nutrients play a very specific and important role in stress management. Tryptophan especially has been found to boost positivity.
But if you are struggling to get to the shops or to find lots of fresh fruit and veggies, or if you are simply not feeling up to cooking and eating healthily then a really good insurance is a quality multi-nutrient. Vitamins and supplements vary hugely in quality, dosage and reliability so check the ingredients carefully. Making a vitamin part of your daily ritual could be just the mood boost you need. To make things easier for you with everything you need a psychologist- designed range of vitamins to lift mood can be found here