boost mood

7 science-backed ways to boost your mood

According to experts, even though your general mood is partially determined by factors such as circumstances and genetics, about 40 percent of your happiness is within your control.
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We have all experienced moments where we felt irked due to unpleasant situations that ticked us off and spoiled our mood. Even more frustrating are moments where we feel low, but can’t figure out a reason for it. During such situations, you need an antidote to those feelings that can quickly and effectively boost your mood and make you feel better.

In her book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, psychologist and author Sonja Lyubomirsky argues that even though your general mood is partially determined by factors such as circumstances and genetics, about 40 percent of your happiness is within your control. Lyubomirsky says, “Happiness level is entirely in your hands, that your ‘unhappy genes’ do not doom you to unhappiness or, worse, to depression.”

Read on to know a few science-backed ways that can help you boost your mood.

Spend time with friends and family

Spending time with friends and family is highly valuable when it comes to improving your mood. A study titled Spreading of components of mood in adolescent social networks, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science found that having a positive social circle is associated with good moods. According to Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard University professor and author of the book Stumbling on Happiness, “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.” So, the next time you are feeling sad or low, give your close friend a call or spend time with your family. It will be an instant mood-booster.

Get some exercise

Exercise is a good way to lift your mood and improve your ability to deal with stress and anxiety. When you exercise, your body produces hormones and neurotransmitters that can positively impact your mood and your sense of wellbeing. It could be something as simple as jogging on a treadmill or running in nature. According to a study titled 6 x 40 mins exercise improves body image, even though body weight and shape do not change, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, people who exercise have higher levels of happiness because they feel better about their bodies.

Be kind to others

Kindness is choosing to do something good for others motivated by genuinely warm feelings. It could be anything from mailing congratulatory cards to a loved one, writing a recommendation for your colleague on LinkedIn, or offering support to your loved ones when they seem upset or sad. These acts hardly take a minute of your time but they leave you feeling great. A study titled Caring for Others Cares for the Self: An Experimental Test of Brief Downward Social Comparison, Loving-Kindness, and Interconnectedness Contemplations, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that “those who wished others well had less anxiety, greater happiness, greater empathy and a higher feeling of connectedness.” You will instantly feel better when you are doing something that makes other people feel loved and appreciated.

Write down your feelings

According to a study titled Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, published by Cambridge University Press, writing about traumatic, stressful, or emotional events can significantly improve your physical and psychological health. So, the next time you find yourself experiencing strong emotions such as anxiety or stress, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” and write down your answer. Writing down your thoughts is an act of acknowledgement. When you accept your feelings, you gain perspective, which, in turn, helps boost your mood.

Listen to upbeat music

A simple and excellent way to improve your mood is to listen to upbeat music. It has the power to influence your mind. Kim Innes, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health, who co-authored the study, Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial, found that listening to music can boost your mood and well-being and also improve stress-related measures in older adults suffering from cognitive decline.

Load up on healthy food

According to a study, the simple act of eating can release endorphins, a feel-good hormone. When you eat, your brain gets filled with its natural opioids, which create pleasurable feelings. However, it is equally important to monitor your diet. The food you eat can also have an impact on your mood. According to Healthline, healthy foods such as salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dark chocolate, beans, lentils and oats may help boost your mood. So, load up on healthy food when you need to lift your spirits.

Get more sleep

Do you often find yourself getting irritable? Do you find it hard to concentrate? That may be the result of not getting enough sleep at night. Sleep and mood are closely connected. According to a University of Pennsylvania research mentioned in author, Emma Hill’s book Get Started: Creative Ways to Motivate Yourself, “Subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for a week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep patterns, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.” A National Sleep Foundation article titled How Much Sleep Do You Really Need says, “Adults between the 18 and 64, should aim for seven to nine hours of nightly sleep.” When you get a good night’s sleep, you will wake up the next day feeling refreshed and motivated.

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