Research shows that more than 19 million Americans have periods of depressed mood where they feel a lack of pleasure and experience self–defeating thoughts. In fact, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability. These eye-opening statistics about grave mental conditions such as depression and anxiety cannot be taken lightly and need to be dealt sooner than later.
One approach is to proactively involve your mind in a task and boost your mood, to rapidly mitigate the feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety or guilt. While it’s not always easy to stay upbeat when life’s bumps drag you down, here are five easy ways to elevate your mood and feel happier in no time.
This is the simplest and most important thing you can do to stabilize your mood. It requires you to acknowledge whatever is happening in the present moment. Whether you are washing dishes or petting your dog, stay in the moment. Feel the soap and water on your hands or the soft fur of your pet against your skin. Another way of being mindful is using breathing as the object of awareness. When you are feeling low, restrict your mind from wandering by doing a 5 to 20-minute breathing exercise, and concentrate on your breath as you breathe in and out.
There are a number of foods that have a positive impact on your mood such as salmon, banana, coconut, lentils, beans, eggs, green colored vegetables, nuts, and seeds. In addition, Saffron, a well-known spice has been historically used to combat depression. Various studies show that it is one of the most potent alternatives to antidepressant drugs – without any adverse side effects. Even small doses of saffron help promote good mood. What’s more? You can also drink green tea for its anti-anxiety properties and include fresh vegetables in your diet as they have naturally occurring folates, mineral and other vitamins, which help improve mood.
Research shows massage boosts serotonin levels – a critical factor in controlling and regulating mood. A study of 84 depressed pregnant women found that 20 minutes of massage, twice a week, reduced the incidence of depression by 70 percent. You don’t have to go to a fancy spa to get these massages; your partner could give you one. The result: a more relaxed and optimistic you.
Even mild exercise like walking has been shown to uplift mood. Physical exercise promotes the release of hormones and neurochemicals that enhance mood. Stepping out for a walk also increases natural light exposure, which results in fewer sleep problems and less depression. Studies show that talking a walk through Mother Nature strengthens immune system and promotes good health. Hook up with a walking buddy or take your pet out for a walk to help you stick to the schedule.
The blue light from electronic equipment such as television, tablets and smartphones interferes with biorhythms and impacts sleep quality. To improve your sleep, listen to classical music such as Mozart or Beethoven or write a journal before you hit the sack. In addition, ensure that you go to bed by 10.00 p.m. and wake up by 6 a.m. as this will help you sink in with your bodies’ natural circadian rhythms and balance your hormones.
If you suffer from frequent bouts of depression, don’t blame yourself. Try to connect with your inner self, set daily goals to improve your lifestyle, and engage in positive conversations with people. Learn to live in the moment and inject laughter into your daily routine. These simple yet powerful changes can put you on the path to wellbeing and happiness.