During low points, whether they are due to depression or external factors, individuals often feel overly tired, emotionally exhausted and anxious. During these times, it's also difficult to think clearly and find a way out. Here are some tips to help get yourself back up, the next time you are feeling down.
1) Get some light
An easy way to boost our moods is to get some light! Daylight increases the production of serotonin in our brain, inducing feelings of happiness. On darker days (e.g., winter days), we generally have lower levels of serotonin in our brains, which can cause negative changes in mood and emotion. One study showed that levels of serotonin produced by the brain are directly related to the length of exposure to sunlight. A meta-analysis revealed that bright light treatment is associated with a reduction in the severity of depressive symptoms in both patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and those with nonseasonal depression. Both of these studies demonstrate the importance of exposing ourselves to light. Maybe J K Rowling was right after all when she wrote: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light”. While we can get light in many ways, our best option is to enjoy sunlight by opening our curtains/blinds or stepping outside. Artificial bright light is also effective in some cases, and bright light therapy devices are available.
2) Get some fresh air
Getting fresh air is an easy and effective way to boost mood! Research indicates that being outdoors is associated with increased vitality! Going for a walk or being outside is ideal. However, this can be hard when we feel a lack of motivation. During these times, try and open some windows. If possible, peak out and admire the trees, flowers and grass.
3) Smile!It is common knowledge that we smile when we are happy and frown when we are sad. However, according to the facial feedback hypothesis, it can also work the other way around. Our facial movements can also influence our emotional experiences. Therefore, making a certain facial expression (e.g. a smile) can produce, or enhance, feelings associated with that expression. For example, one study demonstrated that participants who displayed Duchenne smiles (i.e., a smile in which cheeks and corners of the mouth are raised) reported greater positive experiences when viewing pleasant scenes and cartoons. Smiling can enhance positive experiences, and can help us feel joy! So, the next time you’re feeling down or unhappy, remember to literally turn your frown upside-down!
4) Play some music!
Music can have a large impact on our mood, and can be a great mechanism to help us feel some kind of emotion. A recent study revealed that familiar sad music provided intense and pleasurable experiences in most of the study’s participants. One third of the patients also reported positive mood changes. This type of music also caused negative feelings in others, indicating the importance of individual differences.
Another study, published in the Journal of positive psychology, discovered that upbeat music could also help boost our mood. The study revealed that individuals who listened to upbeat music for two weeks, experienced an increase in their mood. The results are even more significant when the music is combined with the intention to feel happier! This demonstrates the effectiveness of music in boosting mood. So the next time you’re feeling down, remember to put on a familiar song to help you feel understood, or some upbeat music to help boost your mood! In conclusion, getting light or fresh air, listening to music, and/or smiling, are easy and effective ways to feel better. Make sure to try these tips the next time you’re down!