Blame it on the lack of daylight or the approaching holidays but something about late fall, early winter can leave many of us feeling more dreary than jolly. And that’s normal. According to a report from CCN.com published in January, Americans will spend roughly 550 million dollars on self-help books this year. In an article from Psychology Today (dot) com, writer and therapist Michael Sichel, lists the demands of the season (shopping, social obligations) that raise anxiety levels. Whatever the reason, you’re not powerless over your mood. If you’re feeling in a funk, try these five tips to boost your spirits.
Tip No.1: SLEEP
We’re always hearing about the wonders of sleep. From assisting with weight loss to helping our focus, it seems that so much of our well-being hangs on those previous eight hours of rest (some of you may need more or less). And when it comes to our moods, not having enough is like buying a one-way ticket to cranky city. In fact, one study showed that a 90 minute nap helped combat against sensitivity to negative stimuli (like a screaming boss or a mountain of paperwork). While we know it’s impractical to suggest you nap during the work day there are always those precious days off to try this theory out. You can also close the door to your office and shut your eyes for 10 minutes. Even if you can’t fall asleep, the meditation break can help you feel more focused and centered.
Tip No. 2: EXERCISE
When you’re in a bad mood the last thing you want is to workout but put on your sneakers anyway. When we exercise the body releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). BDNF is reparative and protective to memory neurons. It resets us and brings a feeling of ease. And of course, there are those endorphins that are released when we workout. Endorphins have a euphoric effect on our systems. We also tend to feel more accomplished after we’ve exercised which boosts our self-esteem.
Tip No.3 : SOCIALIZE
Now we know we just said that social pressures can make people anxious but being with friends isn’t the same as a mandatory office party. One study found that being separate from friends can increase cortisol levels, the hormone released when we’re stressed. Granted, the test subjects were fourth graders but we won’t argue that venting to comrades or doing a fun group activity makes us feel better. To beat the blues, text your pals and arrange a get together.
Tip No. 4: GIVE
They say the joy is in giving for a reason. In a survey of 5,000, giving was listed as the top habit that made people happy. In another survey from 2010, out of 4,500 American adults poled, 73 percent who volunteered felt the act made their stress levels lower. Eighty-nine percent reported feeling an improvement in their well-being and 68 percent felt physically healthier for it. According to experts, when we give of ourselves we’re touching on the very real internal need to connect with other human beings. As illustrated in the above tip, humans are social creatures. Being around each other makes us happy.
Tip No. 5: GO EASY ON THE BOOZE
We know this one may be hard with all the gatherings taking place this time of year, but don’t be afraid to volunteer as the designated driver (hey, then you could also check Tip No.4 off your list). Many people report feeling anxious and depressed the day after drinking. The reason for this is because as alcohol leaves our system blood sugar drops, increasing feelings of nervousness. Inflammation also starts to happen which effects the nervous system. To keep yourself feeling merry, keep the alcohol to a minimum.