Highs and lows are an inevitable part of life.
We all feel on a broad emotional spectrum, and the darker moments have value too: they teach us about ourselves, tell us what we need, and help us to appreciate the light.
While we don't want to shield ourselves from difficult feelings entirely, there are several things we can do to lift ourselves out of a negative spiral, and encourage more positive thinking patterns.
A bad morning doesn't have to mean a bad day, and a bad day doesn't have to become a bad week. Here are five evidence-based ways to boost your mood.
Five steps to a better mood
1. Get moving
When the going gets tough, the tough get moving 🏃♂️
It might be the last thing you feel like doing - but it works! Exercise has been shown to lower stress hormones such as cortisol, as well as releasing endorphins: the brain's natural mood-booster.
Finding the motivation to hit the gym when you're feeling rubbish can be challenging, so we'd recommend making movement part of your everyday routine. This way, on difficult days you'll be one step ahead.
2. Get outside
There's a reason many of us find our mental health plummeting in the winter months.
Research shows that spending time in nature and exposing yourself to sunlight can make a huge difference to your mental health, stimulating feel-good hormones like serotonin.
Try to resist the urge to hibernate from the world when you're feeling low and get some fresh air - even if it's just for ten minutes!
When we feel sad, our impulse is often to retreat from the world, when what we really need is connection.
Spending time with the people we love stimulates oxytocin and serotonin, and helps to alleviate the tension that can build when we keep things bottled up for too long.
So even if it you really don't feel like it: seek out connection. Pick up the phone, invite someone over, or go and sit in a communal space. Even if you don't have words for what you're feeling or why, sitting alongside someone you trust will help to get you out of your head and feel a little bit less alone.
4. Self-soothe with your senses
When we feel overwhelmed, we can use our senses to bring us back into the moment and find comfort. Try watching a candle burn, drinking some herbal tea, wrapping up in a soft blanket or listening to relaxing music.
Check out this Instagram post for more on self-soothing with the senses.
'Fake it til you make it' doesn't just apply to confidence: it can help you feel happier too.
Research shows that the act of smiling can actually trick your brain into feeling happy.
When you smile, your brain releases something called neuropeptides which help to fight off stress, and increases levels of dopamine and serotonin in the body.
So next time you feel low, practice opposite action and see what it feels like to smile. (Putting on your favourite comedy or an upbeat Spotify playlist should have the same effect!)
Need help boosting your mood? Jump into the MindLabs app and try one of these classes...