Have you ever noticed there seems to be a bounce in everyone’s step when the sun is out? One can’t help but feel just a little more joyful than usual when exposed to sunshine: it triggers the release of serotonin, a natural mood booster.
The good news is that no matter what the weather is or what kind of day you’re having, you can achieve that shot of positivity every day—naturally! Here are four simple ways you can instantly give your mood a boost.
Move your body
The great thing about this tip is that achieving a natural mood boost through movement doesn’t require too much of a workout. You don’t need to run five miles, lift heavy weights or even leave your house. By simply going for a walk or taking a few minutes to stretch throughout the day, health experts agree there are direct ties to uplifted mood and exercise.
And the benefits aren’t just in the short term. A recent study concluded that there is a 26% decrease in the odds of becoming depressed for each major step up in activity. For example, going from sitting for 15 minutes to walking for 15 minutes was a 26% decrease. Then, 15 minutes of walking to 15 minutes of jogging was another 26% decrease.
No matter what level of activity you’re comfortable with, you can reap the short and long-term mood-boosting effects of moving your body a little bit each day!
Call a friend
Human beings are wired to be social creatures. From the communities we are born into to the ones we join throughout our lives, even the most introverted among us crave social contact from time to time. And the science backs this up: research has concluded that social connections reduce our levels of stress.
Psychologist Susan Pinker further explains that person-to-person contact is the equivalent of receiving a vaccine that releases neurotransmitters that regulate our response to stress and anxiety. So, something as simple as sharing a laugh with a loved one increases our level of trust and connection, which lowers cortisol (our “fight or flight” hormone), which, in turn, reduces stress.
So, for a quick mood boost, pick up the phone and call a friend or family member! Or, if you’re not the phone call type, shoot over a message via text or set up a video chat.
Surround yourself with nature
Remember at the top of this article when we mentioned sunshine is a natural mood booster? On the flip side, a Vitamin D deficiency can result in fatigue and depression, so make sure you get yourself some of that sweet Vitamin D from the sun when you can! Step outside for a few minutes on a nice day or sit by a window if you can.
Another way to bring the great outdoors to you without leaving the house is by purchasing some indoor plants. More than just a social media design trend, there are many science-backed benefits of having indoor plants, including reduced stress, increased focus and even cleaner air!
If you don’t have a green thumb, no need to worry! These plants are quite resilient and are easy to take care of:
- Snake plant
- Christmas cactus
- Lucky bamboo
- Spider plant
- Rubber tree
- Air plant
- ZZ plant
Note: Make sure you do your research on any plant you bring in your home if you have small children or pets around.
Offer a kind gesture
We all learned the Golden Rule as children: treat others as you want to be treated. But what the adage doesn’t cover is the science behind it all. Even giving and receiving the simplest acts of kindness activate the pleasure zone of your brain and release a chemical called oxytocin, which regulates social interactions and emotion. In other words, you feel the warm fuzzies.
What’s more, committing an act of kindness is contagious. Even witnessing a kind gesture can elicit the same “warm fuzzy” response as giving or receiving it, which makes you more likely to want to follow suit. Plus, some experts say humans are wired to be communal and help one another due to our social makeup.
So, if you’re at the grocery store, hold the door for the person behind you. Or compliment the barista at your favorite coffee shop on her cute shirt. These little gestures take only seconds to do but can instantly make someone’s day. And you’ll feel those positive vibes from doing so.
The bottom line: You don’t need to do much to instantly boost your mood. Just a few minutes of exercise can stave off depression and stress. Calling a friend taps into our innate desire for social connections, which elevates our mood. Sunshine and greenery are Mother Nature’s mood boosters. A simple kind gesture goes a long way, so be generous!