SOMETIMES EVEN THE MOST POSITIVE OF PEOPLE NEED A LITTLE EXTRA BOOST. SO HERE ARE FIVE OF MY FAVOURITE WAYS TO TRANSFORM YOUR MOOD (IN A GOOD WAY).
SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Admittedly, His & Hers won’t be winning any prizes for originality for sharing this popular piece of advice. On a happier note, I can back up my claim that spending time in nature will make you feel better with science. As reported in the New York Times, a recent study on how nature changes the brain strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve your mood for city dwellers.
Naturally, I like the words “easy” and the talk of almost immediate results. Especially as I’ve noticed that most of the truly effective methods of improving your life tend to take both time and effort (darn it). However, frustratingly, sometimes when you’re feeling down, that’s when it’s hardest to expend lots of energy that you may not have to turn your mood around. So take this easy win and enjoy a lovely stroll. Even a short walk in nature should help you feel a little better.
My favourite spot to get my stroll on is Delamere Forest (*other forests are available). Also, if you’re dragging your other half, a friend or your family out into nature and want to make your case for the great outdoors. Or even if you just enjoy fun facts about the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (and frankly who doesn’t), here’s my gift to you…
In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the term shinrin-yoku. It means taking in the forest atmosphere or “forest bathing,” and the ministry encourages people to visit forests to relieve stress and improve health.
(Image by: Rambles with a Camera)
SWITCH YOUR ‘PHONE OFF (AT LEAST FOR A WHILE)
I don’t know about you, but personally, on those days when I’m feeling less than peppy, I’m not the best at making arrangements with friends. Even though I know that would make me feel better. Instead, I’ll find myself tempted to scroll through Facebook and Instagram, which promises a sense of connection with no need to expend any energy or effort (or the need to brush your hair).
But ‘liking’ a load of your friends’ pictures never quite seems to deliver that little boost to your happiness levels that going to see them, and perhaps giving them a compliment face-to-face would. Plus, apparently the mere presence of a smartphone is enough to distract us.
I recently read Cal Newport’s brilliant ‘Deep Work’, in which he argues that in an age of social media and email overload, “One of the most valuable skills in our economy (deep work) is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results.”
This book inspired me to switch off my ‘phone and give my full attention to just one thing more often. It also persuaded me that immersing yourself in an activity or task, rather than flitting between social media sites, will actually make you feel happier.
DON’T WIN THE LOTTERY
Here’s another nice easy one. To achieve it, you might want to try not entering the lottery, which will help, but not in a statistically significant way, as the chance of winning the jackpot in the UK is apparently 45 million to one.
According to this feature in Time magazine, “about 70 percent of people who suddenly receive a windfall of cash will lose it within a few years”. And some studies suggest that after the initial euphoria of the win, people’s baseline happiness levels tend to return to the same level.
As the Daily News says: “Consider a principle that happiness researchers call ‘hedonic adaptation,’ which is to say, you get used to the niceties – a new car and roomier digs – and, as you do, the lift they provide wears off.”
So maybe, ironically, if you do enjoy entering the lottery, doing so, and enjoying a happy hour or so contemplating how you’d spend your winnings, before losing, might actually be the best possible outcome!
Image by: The BBC
NEVER FEEL GUILTY ABOUT PRIORITISING SLEEP
If you have a baby, or a toddler, or have been tossing and turning during these warm summer nights, or have insomnia, or a partner who snores, I’m guessing that if I advise you to ‘get more sleep’, this will make you feel less happy, and perhaps more full of a quiet and eminently understandable rage.
Frustratingly, getting eight hours or so a night of blissful slumber sometimes just isn’t possible. However, if you could get more sleep and aren’t because you’re on a mission to create more ‘productive’ hours in the day (something I’ve tried to do in the past), the science isn’t on your side.
Essentially, more hours spent at the desk don’t necessarily mean more achieved. As Inc. reported: “The first productivity studies were conducted by Ernst Abbe at the Zeiss lens laboratories in the 1880s. They indicated what every other productivity study has shown since: that, up to around 40 hours a week, we’re all pretty productive but, after that, we become less able to deliver reliable, cost-effective work. Why? Because when we get tired, we make mistakes—and the extra hours we put in are absorbed by correcting our errors.”
So you could work ever longer hours for diminishing returns, or you could make time for an early night with a great book, like Arianna Huffington’s ‘The Sleep Revolution’, which I devoured over a few nights. If sleep’s the last thing on your life list, this book might just change your relationship with your bed.
DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEBODY ELSE
It feels good to remember that even while we’re working towards all our big goals, we can still change the world in a small way every time we do something nice for someone else. And it’ll make you feel great, which can’t be a bad thing. I love this quote on kindness…
Related feature: A blog about goals.