Nobody said life was easy. Life can be tough, from the stress of the everyday grind to the bigger issues that our society is dealing with. But it doesn’t have to stay that way! With a few simple hacks and changes, you can make your mood brighter and help yourself feel better. From updating bedroom essentials to improving gut health and more, here are ten ways to improve your mood today.
1) Take Control of Your Gut Health
Did you know that the gut and brain are connected in more ways than one? For example, a scientific concept known as “the gut-brain axis” suggests that there is a direct link between our digestive system and our mental health. Although there is still much to learn, experts believe this link exists because of the presence of certain species of gut bacteria.
When it comes to improving your gut health, eating prebiotics is essential. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates found in fiber-rich foods like bananas, onions, garlic, apples, oats and legumes. These foods provide fuel for beneficial bacteria in the gut and help create an optimal environment for them to thrive. Probiotics are live microorganisms found in food sources like yogurt and kefir or supplements such as capsules or powders. Other foods rich in probiotics include sauerkraut, kimchi and miso. Taking a daily supplement may also help ensure optimal levels of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, which can help improve your overall mood.
2) Embrace a Hobby You Love
Finding a hobby you love is one of the best and simplest ways to improve your mood. It may take some time to find a hobby that fits your lifestyle and budget, but searching can be exciting and rewarding. There are so many different hobbies out there, from active activities like rock climbing and scuba diving to more mentally stimulating hobbies such as writing fiction, to therapeutic activities like gardening or knitting. Find something that speaks to you and makes you excited.
Once you’ve found a hobby that works for you, make it a non-negotiable. Dedicate the necessary time and money to it regularly, regardless of what else is happening in life. Your well-being should always be at the top of your priority list, and investing in yourself will pay off in terms of improved mood. So pick up that guitar or take a dance class — whatever sparks joy within you — and start doing it regularly.
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3) Prioritize Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is the practice of getting adequate sleep and creating a healthy environment to do so. Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your mood. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, millions of Americans are not getting enough sleep. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep can lead to lowered mood and affect motivation, concentration, and more. For adults aged 18-64, the Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night to help maintain good mental health. Of course, your individual needs may vary depending on several factors, such as age and activity level. Still, seven to nine hours is generally an ideal goal for adults.
To get better quality sleep and achieve those seven to nine hours each night, develop a consistent wind-down routine leading up to bedtime, including reading a book or listening to calming music. Mattresses are always a worthy investment, as well, and will directly impact the quality of your sleep. A quality mattress will keep your spine aligned, support your body and reduce pressure points.
If a new mattress isn’t in the cards, consider mattress pads as solid alternatives. They’ll provide added padding and support while being more budget-friendly and affordable than a new mattress. Last, limiting or stopping caffeine intake by 2 p.m. is also best practice to give your body enough time to process it and allow you to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.
4) Practice Gratitude and Assume Positive Intent
Gratitude and assuming positive intent are two powerful tools that can help to improve your mood. Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. It can be expressed in many ways, such as verbal expressions, writing thank-you notes or simply appreciating the beauty around us. Having assumptions of positive intent means trying to assume the best in others instead of jumping to negative conclusions. This helps us to focus on the good qualities in people and situations rather than dwelling on any potential negatives.
To put these into practice, start by taking time each day to reflect on what you are grateful for — this could be anything from your health and relationships to a beautiful sunset or a kind gesture from someone. You can write down your thoughts in a gratitude journal or simply take a few moments each day to think about them. Additionally, when faced with difficult situations or interactions with others, make an effort to assume positive intent — look for the good intentions behind their actions and try not to jump to conclusions based on assumptions.
5) Connect with Others
Social connections are key to our well-being, and having meaningful relationships can help improve your mood. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a social butterfly — spending time with people who lift you up and make you feel more positive is the important part. Studies show that loneliness increases levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which could lead to a decrease in mood and an increase in anxiety.
To stay connected, reach out to people who make you feel good. Catch up with friends and family over video chat or on the phone if you can’t meet in person. If your social circle is limited, there are many ways to connect with others virtually, such as joining virtual classes, attending online events or joining interest-based groups. You can also reach out to professionals like therapists and counselors if you need more help managing your mood.
No matter what methods you choose, creating meaningful connections with others is a great way to get support and stay positive. Focusing on what makes you feel good and connecting with people who lift you up can improve your mood and help create a more positive outlook. Additionally, practicing gratitude and assuming positive intent are two important tools for reframing how we think about ourselves and others, which can significantly impact our happiness.
Finally, don’t forget to get enough rest because it’s essential for maintaining overall physical and mental health. So, make sure to get your eight hours of sleep and practice good sleep hygiene. In the end, your mood is something that you have control over, which means you can decide to make it a priority and work toward improving it. With the proper methods, you’ll be on your way to a more positive outlook.
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