According to common sense, feelings are what cause our behavior. When we are sad, we cry. When we are angry, we rant and rave. However, a large and growing body of research shows that feelings often follow our behavioral choices. In other words, if we force ourselves to smile, we feel happier. And if we pretend to be excited, upbeat and energized, we begin to actually feel that way.
We are more in control of our moods than just the circumstances around us. Here are a few natural mood lifters you can try:
1. Eat often and eat light. When you eat at regular intervals throughout the day you will prevent dips in your blood sugar that can negatively affect your mood. Plan your meals and snacks to prevent yourself from getting overly hungry, aiming for three to six eating episodes (total meals plus snacks) each day.
2. Limit refined carbohydrates such as soda, candy, cookies, and white flour, which are concentrated sources of sugar. These foods may give you an immediate rush of energy, but they will cause you to crash and fatigue soon after.
3. Include a small amount of lean protein at every meal and snack. Protein will leave you feeling alert and productive for hours.
4. Get your daily dose of exercise. Whether it’s a formal session at the gym, a walk with the dog, engaging in a sport or just playing with your kids, getting up and moving will boost your mood and energy level.
5. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air. Take a break from your home or office to get some air and sunshine. Even stepping out into cold weather will wake you up and refresh your mind.
6. Listen to music you love. When your mood is spiraling downhill and the little voice in your head is anything but positive, turn on your favorite tunes and sing along. Soon, sweet music will fill your mind instead of negative thoughts.
7. Play or cuddle up with your furry friend. Just petting your dog or cat has been shown to lower blood pressure and evoke a sense of calmness, happiness and well-being. If you don’t own a pet, visit a pet store or volunteer at an animal shelter to get your furry fix.
8. Fake it till you make it. Researchers have found that the simple act of smiling seems to activate happiness centers in the brain. Keep smiling and in time, your mood will match your facial expression.
It’s quite natural for all of us to wake up on the wrong side of the bed now and again. If your self-care skills are optimal and you try some tips listed above, your pleasant disposition will shine through.