Please welcome guest blogger Stephanie James to Mindfulpathways as she discusses ways to kick the blues and feel better.
Developing daily habits to improve your mood, health, and general wellbeing needn’t be difficult. While feelings of happiness might not come ‘naturally’ to you, it is easy to foster happiness and improve your mood with a few simple changes or additions to your regular routine. By making these small changes each day, you’ll find your mood becomes lighter and your outlook a little more positive too!
There’s no getting away from it – exercise is good for your mind, in addition to your body. When we exercise, our brain releases two chemicals – endorphins and a protein known as Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Endorphins minimize discomfort and BDNF protects and restores memory neurons. What’s more, Penn State University recently found that exercising for just 20 minutes each morning was the optimal time for exercising to improve your mood.
Getting enough rest is imperative for our physical and mental health. Most of us don’t prioritize sleep highly enough and as a result, just 40% of Americans are getting the quantity and quality of sleep they need to be healthy and happy. Depending on your age, the amount of sleep you need varies. Newborns need to sleep for more than half the day, and this requirement steadily drops as we age. However, it’s likely to be higher than you think for your age range. If you struggle with dark moods, depression or anxiety, make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye.
Walking in natural settings, sitting and watching trees, the ocean or even ducks on a pond are all proven ways for calming an anxious and busy mind. Bringing us into the present and able to appreciate the beauty around us. Combining natural settings with exercise is even better – you’ll get the BDNF and endorphin boost at the same time. If that’s just not possible, a five minute walk in the park has been shown to have a positive effect on self-esteem and mood.
Mindfulness meditations have an extraordinary list of benefits for both mental and physical health. The practice can make us more resilient and able to cope with both the everyday ups and downs of life along with larger issues that arise from time to time. Meditating for just 10 -15 minutes at the start and end to each day will improve your mood and ability to cope with life.
Gratitude, positivity and appreciation practices are all ways to improve your mood. They give you the opportunity to focus on the silver lining, less on yourself and more on others too. There are many ways this can be incorporated into daily life – meditation practice can incorporate gratitude and positivity visualizations, praying, keeping a gratitude journal or placing notes around your house for the things you are grateful for will remind you long after you consciously read them that life is worth appreciating and give you a little life.
Guest blogger Stephanie James is a health enthusiast by day and a freelance writer by night. She loves to cover all things wellness and fitness and encourages others to make all aspects of their health a priority. You can connect with her on Twitter at @sjaywrites13