health

20 Simple Tricks To Snap Yourself Out Of The Blahs

by Carmen Sakurai

We all feel gloomy, drained, and sad every now and then. Humans are sensitive creatures, and it’s not uncommon for life’s little bumps to throw us in a funk. Our sinking mood can be caused by anything from overdue tasks on our to-do list, to an argument with a friend, to not getting enough sleep, to guilt from forgetting someone’s birthday, the barista not getting our latte just right, or not receiving enough likes on a Facebook post. There’s also an increase in these moods during the winter season and after the holidays.

As a stress/burnout prevention coach I can say with confidence that these are 20 of the quickest and easiest immediately usable tricks I share with my own clients to help them snap out of a funk. Give these a try and feel your mood improve in no time.

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1. Vitamin D

The quickest mood lifter is sunshine. Getting out to enjoy a little sun (or simply letting the sunshine in through a window) will increase the levels of vitamin D to boost your mood. Studies have shown that people who get more light exposure have less depression and increased alertness and productivity.

Pro-Tip: Let the sunlight stream in when you first wake up to help start the day on a happier, more positive note!

2. Sing

Music therapists report that singing boosts your mood and studies have shown singing also enhances immunity by increasing antibodies that fight sickness.

Fun-Tip: Sing in the shower. Not only will your mood get a welcome boost from unleashing your inner diva, the spray of water will help sooth you physically from the day’s stress.

3. Listen to uplifting music

According to some studies, you will immediately feel a positive shift by listening to music that lifts your spirit and frees your mind. So turn it up.

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4. Physical activity

Physical activities such as jogging, aerobics, inline skating, and hula hooping release feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and is as beneficial as taking anti-depressants for mild depression. Even a simple brisk walk while getting some fresh air outside will help.

Fun-Tip #1: Dance. That’s right. Shake what your mama gave you! Dancing combines two mood lifters: music and physical activity. So the next time you’re feeling blue, turn up your favorite tunes and drop it like it’s hot.

Fun-Tip #2: Swing! This childhood fun is not only exhilarating, it can boost your mood as you enjoy the outdoors.

5. Go nuts

Stash walnuts, almonds, and pistachios in a convenient place for a mood-lifting snack. They’re packed with omega-3 fats that help make people less prone to depression. Plus, studies show that the act of repetitive chewing enhances serotonin production which can improve your mood and help you reduce stress.

6. Laugh out loud

A hearty laugh can instantly elevate your mood, reduce blood pressure and pain, decrease stress hormones, and boost immunity. So when you’re feeling overly stressed or down in the dumps, surround yourself with the funniest, silliest people and let the healing begin!

If you don’t have any funny peeps around, don’t fret! Watching funny videos on YouTube, comedy movies, or browsing through hilarious websites is just as effective. (It’s also been reported that there’s no significant difference between real and “faked” laughter. Try it!)

7. Hug it out

Hugs are known to release endorphins, a chemical that helps you feel excitement or satisfaction. A big warm hug from a friend, loved one, or even your pet is one of the best ways to lift your mood.

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8. Pray or meditate

Regardless of religion, prayer satisfies a basic need to feel that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, which helps in reducing stress.

If prayer isn’t for you, try meditation. Research shows that regular mindfulness exercises can change brain structure to promote a sense of well-being.

Either way, set aside some time for prayer or meditation to literally lift your spirit!

9. Buy happiness

A study found that people who were told to spend as little as five dollars on a friend or charity reported feeling better at the end of the day than those instructed to spend the money on themselves.

If you can afford it, today is a good day to splurge on your and someone else’s happiness!

10. Share positive energy

Responding to another person’s victories and good news in an enthusiastic way will help you share in that positive energy as well.

Pro-Tip: Expressing love and appreciation for one another can lift both your mood and theirs. So email or call a friend to let them know they’re appreciated!

Bonus: This act can help control jealousy issues if you have them.

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11. Unplug

Studies show that people who rated themselves as “very happy” watch 10 percent less time watching TV than those who rated themselves as “somewhat happy.“

The reason is, gluing your eyeballs to the television may be temporarily entertaining, but it isn’t satisfying or fulfilling in the bigger scheme of life.

12. Dark Chocolate

That delicious dark chocolate is made with a high proportion of cocoa (at least 70%), which contains high amounts of phenethylamine that helps create a feeling of mild euphoria. I always keep a bar of 85% extra dark chocolate and a container of cacao nibs at my desk to nibble on. Yes, I’m a chocoholic… but that is beside the point.

Delicious-Tip: This website shows you how to make drinking chocolate that’s perfect anytime you need a delicious, chocolaty boost!

13. Breathe

Deep, focused breathing will help you become more grounded, bring you back to the present moment, and lower your stress level. It’ll instantly improve your mood!

Start by exhaling completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, again making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

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14. Chop or peel veggies

Repetitive actions such as chopping and peeling helps clear your head and reduce stress. So chop those carrots and peel a bag of potatoes to achieve a happier, more relaxed you!

This is one of my favorite tricks to clear my heal and luckily, my son loves his veggies!

15. Treat yourself

There is nothing healthy about always being the one making sacrifices for others. It will burn you out and knock you off balance. (Plus, you might even start feeling resentment towards the people you initially enjoyed helping.)

Good news is, you don’t have to wait for someone else to give to you, keep the energy moving in a healthy direction by treating yourself to a little something each day. Whether it’s a relaxing bubble bath, a rejuvenating walk in the park, a scoop of yummy ice cream, the movie you’ve been wanting to see, or even a nap!

Bonus: Not only will this help reduce stress and lift your mood, but by treating yourself each day, you’ll feel even more fulfilled when you give to others!

16. Nap

Resting is a mood lifter and helps maintain our positive energy. Even a quick 20 minute power nap can do wonders for your mood.

17. Help those in need

Researchers believe volunteering increases empathy, which makes you appreciate all the good you have in your own life, and in turn, boosts your own happiness.

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18. Practice random acts of kindness

One small and simple act on your part to make another person’s day happier will help you feel pretty fantastic.

Bonus: There is a possibility of your kindness being “paid forward” to others, which will quickly multiply the acts of kindness spread all over the place. And that in itself is really cool.

19. Flip through old photos

When you’re feeling blue, looking through photos from your favorite gathering with family and friends, pics of fun trips you’ve taken, your kids’ baby albums, or even photos of when you were younger is sure to bring a smile to your face.  (I dare you not to let out a chuckle after seeing an old photo of you wearing glittered leg warmers over your stirrup pants! Anyone?  No?  Just me?)

Pro-Tip: Use your favorite photos as a rotating screensaver or keep them in a digital frame that flips through each picture.

20. Surround yourself with positive people

Just being near a happy and positive person can be enough to lift your spirits. People who choose a lighthearted view of the world will infect you with their happiness virus that will boost your mood and help recharge your energy!

Have you given any of these strategies a try? What are your favorite tricks to kick the occasional blahs?

For more from Carmen Sakurai, visit her blog Ninja Mom Diaries and her Facebook page.