There are a lot of reasons for feeling a little blue these days. Situational depression, pandemic fatigue, and having to put on real pants and return to the office might be among them.
The internet is rife with information about coping mechanisms. But who wants to just cope? It would be so much better to shake off those occasional blues.
The good news is there are as many ways to raise your spirits as there are reasons for feeling low. Here are seven mood-boosting strategies you can use to replace your funk with some funky.
1. Breathe Some Fresh Air
A little fresh air in the great outdoors can lift your mood instantly. You don’t have to go far. Even a walk around the block or to a nearby park or outdoor café might do the trick.
Take the dog for a walk. Play with the kids in the backyard. Hike a nearby trail or go for a jog.
If you want to feel the wind in your hair, you might need to move a little faster. Why not take an electric bicycle for a spin? You can pedal when you want and let it propel you when you don’t.
When you have the choice, enjoy eating, listening to music, and being entertained in outdoor venues instead of inside. The fresh air is better for your health in more ways than one.
If nothing else, just stand outside and breathe deeply. Some fresh air and Vitamin D will do a body — and a mind — good.
2. Get Social
Get social — but not through a screen. Socialize with real humans, in person, even if you still need to wear a mask to do it.
Loneliness contributes to myriad health issues, including dementia, depression, anxiety, and increased risk for heart disease and stroke. The link is stronger among older adults, but younger people are affected as well, especially during a pandemic.
If you have an older adult relative or friend, do both of you a favor and get together for a visit. Gather with friends or work colleagues for a drink. Take someone else along for that walk, bike, jog, or hike.
If it’s safe for you to do so now, give someone a hug. After a pandemic, a real hug, not an emoji, might make you feel warm and fuzzy.
3. Eat It Up
Don’t let feeling down eat at you. Eat it up instead.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and chia seeds, lower the risk of depression. Fermented foods like kombucha, yogurt, and kimchi are great for the health of your gut, where serotonin is largely produced. Dark chocolate, bananas, berries, and nuts also enhance mood and taste great.
Strict scientific proof about the relationship between certain foods and emotional and mental health may be lacking. However, there’s abundant anecdotal evidence that what goes into your body affects your mood as well as your physical health.
Feed your body and your soul with food and drink that will fire up neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Lift a cup of coffee to your lips, and you might raise your spirits as well.
4. Simplify Your Life
Life is complicated; complications cause stress, and stress brings you down. When your schedule, commitments, goals, and obligations overwhelm you, create more space. You need to break it all down, keep what’s necessary, and rid yourself of everything else.
It’s easier to pick out clothes from a closet that’s not jam-packed full of them. Keep one credit card in your wallet and cut up the rest to get your finances under control. Spend time with people who matter and say no to people who don’t.
Moreover, when you’re really feeling overwhelmed, avoid making major decisions until you simplify other aspects of your life. It will help you focus on the big things if you can shake off the small, unnecessary ones.
Everyone can use a little Marie Kondo in their life. Less clutter, less stress, more fun.
5. Kick Back
When you’re down, you probably feel the proverbial weight of the world on your shoulders. And the world is a heavy piece of rock to carry around.
Do something that relaxes you, whatever that may be. Light an aromatherapy candle. Get that mani-pedi you couldn’t get during lockdown. If shopping is your therapy, buy yourself something you’ve been hankering for.
Yoga, meditation, or prayer might draw tension out of your mind and body. So might a good massage, a bubble bath, or even just a restful night of sleep.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated to reduce your anxiety and stress. A tall glass of water might slake your thirst for a brighter day.
6. Expand Your Horizons
On those days when you feel down, look down at your feet. Are you stuck in a rut? Perhaps you need to get on a fresh path.
If you’ve grown weary of the same daily routine, you need to shake it up. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. Maybe you need to shake a little cayenne pepper on yours.
It can be as easy as taking a different route to work. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to before and try a dish you’ve never had. Take up a new hobby or learn a new game or sport.
Travel is always a sure way to expand your horizons. You could sail around the world, but you could also just explore new places close to home. It’s more about novelty and less about distance or expense.
Don’t forget your brain. You really should learn something new every day, whether that’s a new word, a new app, or a new song. Climb out of that trench and ride the spirit of discovery instead.
Laughter is absolutely the best medicine. If you’re feeling down, you probably haven’t been doing nearly enough of it.
Laughter therapy is a real thing. Laughing decreases stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and increases dopamine and serotonin production.
Spend some quality time with family and friends who make you laugh. Binge-watch that comedy you love or the blooper reels from your favorite show. Watch five-year-olds learn how to play soccer.
Whatever makes you chuckle will help you shake off the funk. So find something that will turn your frown upside down, and set those endorphins free.
Everyone gets a little down in the dumps from time to time. A worldwide viral pandemic undoubtedly created one of the largest emotional landfills of all time.
As the world reopens, so do the number of strategies you can use to bust your blues. All you need to do is find which ones put you right with the world again.