Easy ways to feel better fast…
Depression is serious business and should be treated by a professional. But what if you’re not depressed—perhaps just feeling a little blue or in a funk?
With the steps below, most people can escape a bad mood in a matter of minutes instead of toughing it out for hours or even an entire day or more. To get started…
CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF
• How’s your physical state? Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? You may not think to ask yourself these questions, but any of these conditions can make you feel out of sorts.
• Do a gut check. Once your physical needs are taken care of, take a minute to ask yourself why you might be feeling down. An honest assessment of what’s bugging you may reveal a way to actively address the problem.
Even if you identify the cause of your bad mood—maybe you’re overworked, for example, or worried about a loved one’s health—and can take steps to address the issue, your dark cloud might not lift immediately. Other steps you can take to boost your mood…
QUICK FEEL-GOOD TRICKS
• Turn on some minor-key tunes. Research shows that people who are bordering on depression tend to feel better after listening to music in a minor key—perhaps because happier, major keys prove too jarring to their emotional state.
Good choices: “Hey Jude” by The Beatles…“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga…and Piano Concerto in A Minor by Edvard Grieg. If you find that this type of music doesn’t lift your mood, switch to some up-tempo music such as Aaron Copland…most big-band music…and “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. According to recent research, people are happier in both the short term and long term after listening to up-tempo music.
• Take a brisk, five-minute walk outdoors. Brisk walking gets your blood moving, which means more oxygen and energy-boosting glucose are getting to your brain. Five minutes is the minimum time needed, according to research, to produce mood-enhancing changes.
Walking outside helps most. That’s because sunlight suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin (making you feel less sluggish and more alert) and gives you a dose of energy-boosting vitamin D. The fresh air also may contain negative ions that attach themselves to particles in the atmosphere and act as air purifiers, allowing you to get more oxygen to your brain with each breath.
• Eat a hamburger (really!). “Comfort foods,” such as ice cream, chocolate, cheese and pasta, produce a quick mood boost by encouraging the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. But if you overdo it, you’ll end up feeling bloated and tired.
What works better: When you’re feeling down, eat some protein or complex carbohydrates. Good protein choices include a hamburger without the bun…nuts…eggs…and beans. Good complete carbohydrates include dark berries…bananas and a salad full of vegetables.
• Use your words. Using language triggers the pleasure pathway in the brain, but you don’t need to have a gabfest if that’s not in your nature. While some people find that having a conversation with a friend elevates their mood, others might prefer writing in a journal or composing a letter. Research has shown that the act of using language is soothing whether you’re focusing on whatever is causing your bad mood or something unrelated.
• Tweak your posture. If you’re slouching in your chair or staring down at the sidewalk while walking, you may be inadvertently prolonging the blues by inhibiting the blood and oxygen circulation in your body.
What to do: Pull your shoulders back and balance your head over your spine. When you are in perfect alignment, your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should form a vertical line when viewed from the side.
• Ditch the alarm clock. Most people sleep in cycles lasting around 90 minutes, progressing from a light to deep sleep and back again. If you have your alarm set to go off in the later stages of your cycle, chances are you’ll awaken in a disoriented, grumpy mood.
What to do: Try experimenting with your bedtime so that you wake naturally without using an alarm. If you go to bed early enough, you’ll wake up on your own feeling refreshed after an optimal number of complete sleep cycles.