In the busy lives that we lead, we're all prone to experiencing stress, anxiety and mood swings as we navigate our way through our own personal struggles and challenges.
Of course, with the changing ways we work, live, socialise and communicate due to COVID-19, this is amplified and it's becoming more important than ever to be aware of your health and well-being.
With that in mind, we've put together a quick list of 6 easy things that you can do to improve your mood and brighten your day.
Enjoy, and let us know how you get on!
Sometimes when you're feeling a little down, exercise couldn't be further from what you really want to do. However, we'd definitely suggest getting active for at least half an hour a day, even if it's as simple as going for a walk, bike ride, or just playing 'the floor is lava' with the kids in the living room.
The reason exercise is so great as a mood booster, is it releases endorphins - powerful chemicals in your brain that inherently make you feel good. The physical activity and increased blood flow also helps to relax muscles and relieve tension in the body, all of which are symptoms associated with stress and anxiety.
Exercise is a bit like hitting the 'mood-reset' button on your body, so while sometimes it can be tough to do, it's definitely worth it in the long run.
2. Get a Good Sleep
One of the age-old tried and tested ways to moderate your mood and stay positive is to make sure you're getting a good night's sleep. In fact, sleep and mood are actually really closely connected. We all know that feeling of irritability and stress when we've had a poor night's sleep, and the only real fix is to have a nap or sleep well the following night.
In fact, studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.
So, to feel a little better every day, make sure that prioritising sleep and doing everything you can to make sure your shut-eye is of good quality is your first port of call.
3. Make Time for Friends
As human beings, we all grow, learn, work and think as part of a society. We're so used to being social and interacting with people every day, that we can actually start to feel down without it. It makes sense too; ever since the cave man days, we've lived in small tribes and relied upon one another. Being social has helped our species to not only survive but also thrive over millions of years - it's in our DNA!
That's why it's absolutely key to make sure you're still getting your daily dose of connection and interaction to keep your spirits up. Psychologist Susan Pinker states that direct person-to-person contact triggers parts of our nervous system that release a “cocktail” of neurotransmitters tasked with regulating our response to stress and anxiety. In fact, chemically we produce dopamine and oxytocin when we interact with people we love, which lowers cortisol and relieves stress levels. Amazing, right?
Luckily, even when we're house-bound, there are a tonne of ways we can keep up connectivity. Our favourite people are only a phone call, message, email or video call away.
4. A Well-Balanced Diet
Another thing that can be difficult to manage when you're at home and feeling low, is avoiding comfort eating those tasty snacks you've been storing in the pantry! We get it, for sure. However it's really important to know that holding off the snacks and keeping a well balanced diet can do wonders for your mood.
Did you know that there's a link between the brain and the gut?
Yep, hard to believe but 90% of our serotonin receptors are actually located in our gut, which means that good gut health from a well-balanced diet can really positively impact our mood. Like a good car, your brain functions best when it runs on premium fuel, ie. fruit, veges, meat and grains. Plus, the stats suggesting that food impacts mood also show that a poor diet can impact your mental health. A 2014 study of more than 4,000 students in New Zealand found that a high-quality diet was associated with better mental health and a low-quality diet was associated with poor mental health.
Making sure you keep up a healthy diet can be a game changer.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Most adults know the feeling of reaching the end of a busy, stressful day and reaching for a cold drink to relax. This is usually because the depressant qualities in alcohol are shown to dampen the bodies natural stress response, and create temporary feel-good effects.
While the rule of thumb is 'everything in moderation', having too much alcohol (or relying on it to get you through tough times) can have a really negative impact on your overall mood. Research has shown that regular, excessive, alcohol consumption can alter the chemistry of the brain. It can put the brakes on the brain chemicals that are linked to energy levels and good mood (e.g., serotonin), whilst speeding up the release of others that have more of a sedative effect.
It's also a common misconception that alcohol helps sleep. In fact, alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns causing you to wake up feeling tired and poorly rested by impairing the body's usual restorative process while you're asleep.
As we said earlier, as long as it's not excessive, a drink or two is okay, but if you're looking to improve your overall mood, reducing your alcohol consumption could be a good place to start.
6. Stick to a Routine
Something that can be quite easily overlooked and accidentally slip out of is a healthy, regular routine. If our world is turned completely upside down, it can leave us feeling a little 'all over the show' and out of place.
It's super important to maintain some kind of routine (and everyone's ideal routine will be different), even if it's a regular wake-up time and bed time, because it helps to keep us anchored. Knowing how our days play out gives us certainty and control, which can help us to cope with unpredictable times.
You can also use routine to your advantage, getting your mind and body used to healthy life patterns, like regular sleep, eating and exercise. When things are a part of our daily routine, they feel less like a chore and slowly become the new normal.
A Healthy Lifestyle Starts with a Healthy Home
If you're feeling like it's time to focus on feeling healthy, energetic and positive, take a look at the other blogs in our healthy home, healthy life series.
Remember, it all starts with a clean and hygienic home, so if you'd like to find out how you can make your home as a healthy as possible, download your free personalised cleaning guide, below.