Whether it's the weather, trouble at work or a broken heart, if you are dragging yourself through the day like a little slug of sadness we've got nine ways to improve your mood that are free, easy and involve chocolate and hugs. Here are some instructions for a bad day...
Good mood food
Eating dark chocolate reduces stress hormones in your body and relieves anxiety.
Carbs really are comfort food and studies show that they reduce stress, anger and anxiety and encourage the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin, but stay away from carbs that are processed or fried (put the donut down and step away from the box!)
Fruit and veggies are packed with omega-3 fatty acids which reduce depression and the folate and B vitamins they contain positively affect the neurotransmitters that impact mood.
Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids encourage the production of serotonin and dopamine and these relieve the effects of depression and make us feel good.
Play that funky music
Ditch the sad ballads and death metal; music that is upbeat or relaxing can really boost your mood. If you aren't feeling cheerful enough to dance yourself into happiness, just put some happy music on quietly in the background.
If you are feeling upset or anxious, whale sounds, waves crashing on the beach or the sound of water flowing will release serotonin which will sooth your jagged nerves and restore calm.
Don't slouch on the couch
Sit up straight! A 2009 study showed that sitting up or standing up straight positively affects your feelings of self-confidence. A Harvard University study showed that holding a posture of power for at least 120 seconds will increase testosterone levels by 20 per cent (improving confidence) and decrease the stress-causing hormone cortisol by 25 per cent. Once you are feeling a little better stretch like a cat, take up some space and spread yourself out.
We know you don't feel like it, but get some exercise. Even a simple walk can boost your mood for hours. You don't have to leave the house, have a ten-minute dance party to your favorite happy tune.
Fake it 'til you make it!
Even if it makes your face hurt, give us a smile. According to a University of Kansas study, smiling is a trigger that tells our bodies that everything is OK. This, in turn, reduces your anxiety and helps your body to relax. Want to go one better? Then have a laugh -- it reduces pain, inflammation and releases a bunch of hormones that make you feel better. Laughter also reduces anxiety and lowers blood pressure which leaves you feeling calmer.
Studies show that petting a dog or cat releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin; all feel-good hormones which help to relieve stress and improve mood. No furry friends around or have allergies? Then reach out and touch someone; a University of North Carolina study showed that touching someone else reduces heart rate and blood pressure and makes you feel better while also releasing those yummy hormones.
No, those new shoes won't make your day any brighter. Studies show that money only makes us happy when we spend it on someone else. So instead of taking yourself shopping, take someone else.
Pay it forward
Studies show that volunteering, random acts of kindness and good deeds have excellent effects on mood and help reduce anxiety and depression. Not only does volunteering make you feel good, it also reduces depression and adds years to your life.
Let the sunshine in
If you have shut out the light along with the world, its time to pull the curtains back. A lack of sunshine can lead to fatigue, depression and feelings of hopelessness. If you can't get some natural sunshine, take a vitamin D supplement and visit a solarium near you.
Just do it
Sex releases those feel-good hormones we love so much, improves your immune system, reduces blood pressure, counts as exercise, reduces pain and improves sleep. Oh and kissing burns 68 calories an hour!
Ok, so I'm off to dance with my dog to some happy tunes while smiling and eating dark chocolate in the sunshine.
This blog was originally posted to Greenmoxie.com