Here’s How to Improve Your Mood In 5 Minutes or Less!
Many people struggle with low mood, especially at this time of year when the days are shorter and we spend more time indoors.
If you find that your mood has taken a dip, you may be heartened to learn that there are a number of simple actions you can take in just minutes to give yourself a lift…naturally.
Your brain is powerful, and so are its “happy” neurochemicals – dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins – that can have a positive influence on your mood. If you want to know how to feel happier, engaging in activities that release more of these happy hormones into your brain is a smart place to start.
The following 5-minute mood boosters can help make your day less gray.
5-minute Mood Boosters: Quick & Easy Ways To Improve Your Mood
Move Your Body
It’s well-known that exercise can boost your mood, yet, surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to make a difference. A 2019 Harvard Medical School article says that just getting off the couch and moving your body for a little while can help raise your spirits.
So, turn on a good dance song and move around. Step away from your desk and do a few stretches. Or, simply take a walk around the block.
Write a Gratitude List
Take five minutes and write a list of what you’re grateful for. Or at bedtime, reflect on your day and appreciate what went well. Make it a regular practice to turn on the good vibes at a moment’s notice.
When we hug another person, a message goes from our skin to the brain, releasing a cascade of neurochemicals such as oxytocin and endorphins, which promote feelings of well-being, security, and love. Extend this hugging to cuddling with your partner before sleep, and it lowers the stress hormone cortisol, helping you to sleep better.
Soak Up the Sun
Spending five minutes in peak sunlight, especially during the fall and winter, can go a long way toward brightening your mood. Sunlight is needed for vitamin D synthesis, and vitamin D is needed for serotonin production. Low levels of both are associated with low mood.
Exposure to sun has been shown to boost vitamin D synthesis and serotonin production. Give your mood a lift by getting sun kissed!
Do Something Nice for Someone
Doing small acts of kindness for others has been shown to improve mood. In fact, research indicates that those who consistently help others get a self-esteem boost, struggle less with low mood, experience less pain, have greater calm, and better overall health.
Here are some examples of small kindnesses:
- Let someone go ahead of you in traffic
- Tell a service worker they’re doing a good job (and tip them!)
- Treat an elderly person with kindness – offer help, buy them a coffee, or give them a smile
- Offer a ride
- Write a note of encouragement for a friend/loved one who could use it
Listen to Music
Researchers have found that people can use music to improve their mood both in everyday life and in music therapy. Music that gives us “chills” is believed to elicit a dopamine release, making us feel good, while calming music is associated with lower cortisol levels, helping us to unwind.
Some research indicates that listening to positive music can be a good way to improve happiness, especially if it’s combined with an intention to become happier. So, take a few minutes to listen to an upbeat song that you enjoy with the intention of boosting your mood!
Laughter releases endorphins, reduces cortisol levels, and alters dopamine and serotonin activity – altogether creating a positive effect on mental health and the immune system. It’s nature’s best medicine! If you need an immediate mood lift watch a funny video (such as an excerpted comedy skit – there are plenty online), read something humorous, or call a friend who makes you laugh.
Pet an Animal
A 2019 Washington State University study examined stress levels in college students who pet cats and dogs for several minutes. Participants showed reduced cortisol levels.
The social interaction between people and their animals also has been shown to increase levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Give your pet some affection for an instant mood boost or offer to look after a friend or neighbor’s pet.
Numerous studies show that deep breathing can calm anxious feelings and help to alleviate stress and low mood.
Follow these simple steps for a quick mood lift:
- Lie on your back and place a small book on your stomach.
- As you slowly inhale through your nose, make the book go up. Hold your breath at the top of your inhalation for 2 seconds.
- When you exhale, make the book go down and then hold your breath for 2 seconds before inhaling again.
- Repeat 10 times.
Addressing Low Mood
According to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1 in 10 American adults struggle with low mood. These 5-minute mood boosters may help relieve stress and improve your mood. Try one today, and add others as you can.
Note: While these suggestions may provide a temporary lift for a short-lived blue mood, it’s important to seek the help of a mental health professional if your low mood persists.
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