Working in high-stress professions, such as healthcare, tech, law enforcement, or finance, can seriously affect your mental health. The pressures of the job and domestic responsibilities can leave you feeling low and at risk of developing mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. However, there are several ways you can quickly boost your mood at work and at home to improve your well-being.
Your work environment and attire can significantly impact your well-being and job satisfaction. A 2008 study suggested that at least 5% of workers suffered from a job-related mood disorder because of a poor work environment. While it can be challenging to change your company culture, you can take a few small steps to change your work environment to boost your mood.
For healthcare workers, wearing comfortable scrub tops in bright colors can lift your mood throughout your workday. Well-fitting women’s scrubs in vibrant patterns let you express your personality and creativity to help you feel more at ease while on the job. Fun scrub jackets can help workers transition easily from the workplace to the gym or park to get fresh air and exercise.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Although you may not want to smile when you’re feeling blue, faking a smile or a laugh can trick your mind into believing you’re happy. Fake smiling uses specific facial muscles that trigger a neurochemical reaction in your brain that releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin.
Take a Walk Outside
Getting some fresh air can be relaxing and invigorating. Exploring nature can improve your attention span and cognitive function, lower stress levels, and increase empathy. Walking or simply watching the trees on a nice day lowers blood pressure and helps us connect with others.
The next time you feel your mood getting low, take a 10 to 15-minute walk around the block or to a favorite park and enjoy the sunshine.
Physical touch has been shown to reduce stress and lower your heart rate. Hugging also releases hormones like oxytocin and dopamine, which elicit feelings of happiness and euphoria. A 2018 study demonstrated that interpersonal touch, such as hugs, increased individual well-being and acted as a stress buffer during times of conflict. If you feel blue, ask a friend or family member for a hug to cheer you up. If there aren’t any human companions around to cuddle, snuggle up with a pet. Research has shown that simply petting a dog lowers your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and releases oxytocin.
Have a Laugh
Laughter really is the best medicine! Aside from being contagious to those around you, laughing helps you increase your levels of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins (DOSE). These neurochemicals work in the brain to make you feel more relaxed, happy, satisfied, and empathetic toward others. Laughter also lowers your stress response system, resulting in a more relaxed and positive attitude. When you are feeling down, watch an episode of your favorite light-hearted TV show or a hilarious clip on YouTube and enjoy a bit of a chuckle, and you will feel a lot better.
Listen to Your Favorite Tunes
The next time you are feeling down, plug in your headphones and blast your favorite tunes. Music is processed by the amygdala, which is responsible for controlling emotion and mood. Music can also trigger dopamine release, causing you to feel happier. So don’t be afraid to turn up the jams next time you need a mood boost.
Some genres are more effective than others at elevating your mood. Sad songs with predominantly minor notes and chords are associated with lower moods. Listening to random genres or chaotic tunes with a fast tempo and aggressive chord progressions can agitate the mind.
However, the type of music that relaxes you or cheers you up is different for every individual. Try listening to a song you associate with a happy moment in your life for a quick pick-me-up.
Meditation improves your general sense of well-being by allowing you to just slow down. When you meditate, the goal is to produce a tranquil, relaxed state of mind, and the simple act of trying to achieve that goal gets you in a better mood. Meditation can also increase self-awareness and creativity and help you gain new perspectives on old problems. Besides enhancing your mood, meditation can improve your health by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Meditation doesn’t need to involve hours of intense focus. Use simple deep abdominal breathing techniques to relax and focus on three things you are genuinely grateful for. Or, lie down somewhere quiet and practice gradual body relaxation meditation. Start at your toes and work your way up to the top of your head. Focus on squeezing the area, and then completely releasing.
Do Something Good for Someone Else
Altruistic acts can often cause you to feel happier than doing something for yourself. Performing acts of kindness for others activates the regions of the brain responsible for pleasure and reward. These acts also help reduce feelings of isolation and offer an alternative perspective on your situation, which can help you to reassess your mood. Acts of kindness can be small things like paying for the groceries of someone in line behind you or giving someone a heartfelt compliment. You could also cook someone a meal, leave them a thank you note, or give a friend or family member a call to check in if you haven’t spoken in a while.
Boost Your Mood for Better Mental Health
Everyone feels blue from time to time, and these simple mood-boosting techniques are an excellent way to get over a mid-week slump at work or a low mood after a personal conflict.
However, anxiety and depression are serious mental illnesses. While managing your mood can help reduce your risk, it is essential to seek professional help if you persistently experience sadness, hopelessness, or panic. Numerous resources are available, from online chats with qualified counselors to emergency mental health hotlines, to ensure you get the help you need.