The holidays are upon us and, although it's deemed a festive time, for many, the holidays can bring on feelings of depression or just general sadness, particularly with the falling levels of daylight. Here are some tips to help boost your mood, not just during the holidays but every day.
Thanksgiving makes many of us think more about gratitude but this should be something we do on a daily basis. I start my day by thinking of three things I am thankful for. This boosts my happiness level as I get out of bed and start my day. When someone starts this practice, it may be simple things like being thankful for the food we eat or loved ones. As this becomes a ritual, more specific things will come to the mind, such as being thankful for a special conversation or connection with your child or an opportunity to do an activity that's rare. Here are some more tips on practicing gratitude.
Another ritual that can help boost happiness is to find a moment each day that you will savor. It makes us more present in that moment and we get more positive emotions from the experience. Today is one of the last days I'll be able to mountain bike on a gorgeous fall day so I'm going to take in the scenery, the crunching leaves and soak up the sunshine.
Sadly, we are all missing out on social connection opportunities with the increase of technology use. As you stand in line to board a plane or order a coffee, you will see that most people are looking down at their phones, taking the opportunity to see what others are doing on social media or checking email. Studies show that time spent on social media leads to feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety and lower self-esteem. As we are plugged into social media, we are missing the opportunity to really connect with someone that is standing right in front of us. Surprisingly, interacting with someone directly, even a stranger, boosts both the mood of the person initiating the conversation and the person that is potentially "interrupted" from their online interaction. In this paper, the author found that both people were happier after the interaction, even those that thought the interaction would feel like an intrusion in their online time.
Lastly, getting exposure to natural light will boost your mood and will help set your circadian rhythm, which improves sleep. Many of you know that reducing exposure to blue light in the evening helps with sleep but you may be surprised to learn that getting natural light in the morning will also help with sleep. Even a cloudy day has brighter natural light than the brightest indoor light. Additionally, if you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you could benefit from a tool that exposes your brain to light during the Winter. My favorite product is the Human Charger. It hits the brain through the inner ear canal to boost light levels. I use it on cloudy days and to help with jetlag.
So what does this all mean... you can boost your mood with a few simple habits each day: give thanks for something specific, walk outside in the morning light, start a conversation with a stranger and savor one moment each day. It's that simple and I guarantee that it works!