January can be a challenging month for a multitude of reasons and we may even end up experiencing low mood, lack of motivation, tiredness and depleted energy levels.
There are however lots of little things that we can do to lift our spirits and feel more energised so here are my personal top ten tips.
1. Take action
When we feel low and lethargic it can be such a struggle to get going and that in itself can make us anxious. Identifying and taking one small step towards doing something positive can boost our mood. It doesn’t have to be a big effort, just something small.
Once we take the first micro step, the next one will be easier and before we know it, we will start to feel a little better and a little brighter. There is a saying that originates from a famous Chinese proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
So just taking that very first micro step you may well surprise yourself with what can be achieved along the way.
Stretching is an excellent mood-boosting activity and this is one of my absolute favourites! Apart from the physiological benefits, such as increased flexibility and the reduced chance of injury, stretching has other benefits too. It helps release neurochemicals in the brain, like serotonin, which is the primary chemical associated with joy and elation.
When we are sitting at our desk or in one position for a long time, it is a important to make a point of standing up every thirty minutes and stretching. Even if we only do it for a couple of minutes, it will make us feel great.
This may seem like a basic thing to do. However, the simple act of smiling can give us a real boost. Smiling stimulates neural messaging in our brain which helps to elevate our mood. A smile can trigger the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
This may sound a bit whacky however when we look in the mirror first thing in the morning, it’s worth taking a moment to pause and smile at our reflection. Start your day the way that you want it to continue and remember that life is like a mirror, smile at it and it smiles back at you 🙂
4. Let the laughter in
Even in challenging times, it helps to seek out the funny side of situations. Having a good laugh can decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, promoting an overall sense of wellbeing and relaxation. Endorphins can even temporarily relieve pain. So, whether it’s watching your favourite comedian or connecting with someone who shares our sense of humour, finding a way to let the laughter into our life can be one of the best mood boosters of all.
5. Eat “good mood” food
Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol is very helpful for our mood.
Chop up some fruit and vegetables and keep them in the fridge to snack on. If you are looking for a quick energy boost, try a handful of pumpkin seeds, a couple of brazil nuts, almonds or walnuts and a small piece of dark chocolate. This is a much more nutritious treat than a refined sugary snack. Personally I love eating lots of green leafy vegetables because they are rich in vitamins and minerals and great for health and energy.
6. Smell your way to a good mood
Because smell plays such an important role in memory, mood and emotion, oil diffusers can be helpful with lifting and calming our mood. Diffusers disperse essential oils as a fine vapour through the air so they can be absorbed gently into the body through our respiratory system. The aromas from the essential oils can also encourage the nervous system to transmit signals to the limbic system in the brain which handles emotion.
Some of the best essential oils for relaxation include: lavender, rose, ylang-ylang, bergamot, chamomile, jasmine and cedarwood. The smell of citrus can boost our body’s production of serotonin, the hormone that makes us feel happy. Lemon scent is regarded to be the most powerful of the citrus smells and can increase mental stimulation which will boost and energise us.
7. Listen to music and dance
When I feel tired or tense, I will often revert to listening to music to either relax or energise me. Music can be so powerful with regards to stimulating emotions and research has demonstrated how music can be used as a therapeutic, mood-lifting solution to combat depression and anxiety. There are some great pieces of music that can make you feel better and singing along to songs with positive lyrics is a wonderful mood booster. Jason Mraz is an absolute favourite and Alexis Ffrench for something more relaxing.
In addition, dancing about to our favourite track can be a great way to incorporate more physical activity into our day and is such fun.
8. Get some fresh air
Exercise is highly beneficial for our mental health and overall mood and even on a cold day, it is so important to wrap up and go for an energising walk. Even if we only walk around the block, it will make us feel so much better. Breathing in fresh air and absorbing natural daylight is especially important in the winter months and the cooler weather is great for invigorating and stimulating the senses.
With so many more people now working from home, it could be easy to stay indoors all day which isn’t healthy. Getting into the habit of doing a “fake commute” to and from work is a great way to start and finish the work day and helps us to set healthy boundaries between work and home time.
9. List achievements
Sometimes when we feel flat and lacking in motivation making a list of three of our proudest and most positive accomplishments will remind us of what we are capable of. This will give us an immediate boost of confidence.
When we are reviewing our list, it is well worth taking time to dwell upon the whole sensory experience we had when we achieved them. What did it feel like, look like, sound like? Transporting ourselves there and reliving how good it felt with all the associated emotions will then boost our mood in the present moment.
10. Be kind
When we are kind to ourselves and to those around us, a hormone called oxytocin is released into our body and triggers a release of nitric oxide. This chemical then dilutes our blood cells and shrinks inflammation in the cardiovascular system, which in turn reduces blood pressure and the chances of heart disease.
This is just one of the multiple benefits of kindness and, according to the Mental Health Foundation, helping others is beneficial for our own mental health and wellbeing. Being kind can also help to reduce stress.
So, for the very best mood booster of all, practise kindness 🙂
You have been invited to a 45-minute mood booster webinar on Thursday 18th January at 3pm (GMT)
This light, uplifting and highly practical webinar will cover the following:
- Deal well with the winter blues
- Build a toolkit of easy to apply mood boosters
- Support your mental health in challenging times
- Choose and embrace healthy coping mechanisms
- Manage stress levels and feel more energised
- Look on the brighter side of life and feel better
You can register free here:
For updates for future blogs, free webinars and various other useful resources please do join my newsletter.