The Challenge: Sometimes, the grind of life can make us feel worn out.
The Science: There are small ways to tap into your body to help you feel energized.
The Solution: Try these 5 hacks to boost your mood!
Feeling not-so-swell at the moment? No need to wait it out! With these simple, science-backed tweaks to your daily routine, you’ll feel perked up in no time.
1. Do a Power Pose or Work Those Abs
Confidence often seems like it flows from the inside out. But did you know it flows the other way, too?
Movement can decrease stress in minutes. Research by neuroscientist Peter Strick shows that abdominal strength, in particular, can help calm down our adrenals. In other words, doing a few crunches may actually decrease the stress levels in your brain. And if you can’t start crunching right there and then, try breathing. Research shows that slow breathing can change how you feel in minutes, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
2. Smile Like You Mean It
The operative word here is “like.” Even though it’s best to give a genuine or Duchenne smile, faking it can already tone down your body’s stress response. Also, when you look at a smile, it’s the emotional equivalent of receiving 2,000 chocolate bars or 16,000 pounds (approximately 20,000 U.S. dollars). “A smile is your best makeup,” indeed!
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to turn your frown upside down! All you have to do is visualize one event that brought you joy, or “think happy thoughts,” if you will. Practice your smile in front of the mirror, and do it as often as you can until you’re comfortable.
3. Hack Your Morning Commute
Since your commute happens right before work, the last thing you want is for it to stress you out. So before you hunker down in the driver’s seat, make sure you prepare for the long journey ahead.
Take a deep breath before, during, and after you drive. Make a mental list of all the things you’re grateful for. Pop in a podcast or two, like “10% Happier,” “99% Invisible,” “Another Round,” and “Reply All” to stay occupied when traffic gets crazy. Chill out in the most creative way you can — as long as you don’t inconvenience other commuters, of course!
4. Add More Activity to Your Routine
So far, scientists have yet to uncover the exact mechanics of how exercise affects mood. However, current studies suggest there’s a significant, positive relationship between the two.
If your workplace is only a few meters away, walk to it. Use your office breaks to get up from your desk. Try one of six “deskercises” that’ll help you burn calories even when you have to sit all day. Take advantage of your company gym if it has one.
Don’t let your exercises stop at the office, though. If you like to watch TV right after work, do jumping jacks and other fat-busting activities during commercial breaks. You can also clean your house from top to bottom or cook as many of your meals at home as you can. What’s important is to take every chance to get moving.
5. Go Natural With Your Food
When it comes to food, there’s only one rule you need to remember: The fewer ingredients, the better. If it has more than five, cross it out from your grocery list. Avoid any ingredients that shouldn’t be anywhere near your pantry (i.e., ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize), let alone your food. Learn more about healthier alternatives to what you normally eat so you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
Over to You
It doesn’t take much to feel good within minutes. If you know of other ways to lift your mood quickly, simply, and naturally, let them rip in the comments!