So, you’re having a bad day (or week or month). You’re feeling down and out, overwhelmed, and don’t want to get out of bed in the morning just to deal with tantrums, whining, crying, messes, and bad attitudes all day.
Don’t feel bad. We’ve all been there.
Truth is, parenthood is the biggest, baddest, hardest thing you’ll probably ever do, whether you’ve just started or are decades into it. Family life and all that goes along with it wears you down to the deep, raw core and your emotional state shows it.
The good news is, you can do something about it. You can be the boss of your own attitudes, habits, and behaviors. Small actions can make a big difference in how you feel, even if everything/everyone around you is in meltdown mode.
Try these surefire all-natural mood boosters when you need an emotional pick-me-up:
1. Get moving.
There’s nothing like a good sweat session to get the blood flowing, let out stress, and give you a surge of positive energy! The release of feel-good endorphins and neurotransmitters will have you feeling euphoric in your post-workout bliss.
Studies show that exercise is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety and can even be as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs.
I know it can be hard to get going when you’re just so tired, but give it a try – you’ll start feeling better before you know it. And if you continue the habit long-term, you’ll have a “healthy” addiction to keep you energized and balanced overall.
It doesn’t need to be complicated and you don’t need a gym or fancy equipment. It shouldn’t be stressful (that kind of defeats the purpose here). Pick something you enjoy! Go for walks, try dance fitness, take up hiking, play tag with your kids, or find free workout videos on YouTube. Even if you’re a new mom, you can have a great time working out with your baby.
Just get moving and you’ll see!
2. Get outside.
Many studies have shown a correlation between positive moods and time spent outside. Getting adequate light reduces symptoms of depression and other mental disorders.
Most Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. Sad fact, since it’s naturally produced by our bodies when exposed to sunshine and is clearly associated with improved mood and reduced stress levels.
I don’t think we need any research to prove that we just feel better when we get out! Being cooped up indoors can really dampen your spirits. The simple act of spending time outdoors can be a magical mood lifter.
So go for a walk, read a book outside, go out with your kids to play, go on a hike or beach trip, or simply step out for some fresh air. A dose of nature therapy is always a good idea!
3. Jam out.
Music is an integral part of the human experience and has been pretty much since the beginning of time. We are drawn to rhythmic sound, whether ancient drum beats, intricate orchestral pieces, or modern pop music.
Just as we have different moods, music has many faces – from slow and sad to happy and upbeat. It’s no wonder that it can play our emotional strings like a well-tuned violin.
Music is so powerful and can even shape your perceptions and how you react to things in the world. Engaging with positive music simply makes you happy. You just can’t help but tap or hum along to an infectiously upbeat song!
So listen to whatever moves you to your desired mood. Inspiring tunes can help you be more productive and get stuff done. Motivational music can pump you up and power you through a workout. Light and happy tunes can lift your spirits on a drab day. Soft, relaxing songs can help you release stress and settle down for sleep.
Music is a tool you can use to help you cope, give an escape, bring comfort, motivate, and inspire. So whether you need a “Fight Song” or want to get “Happy”, just listen and let it take you where you need to be!
4. Count to 4-7-8.
I’m talking about the 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
This a great little trick that can help you instantly calm down and reduce stress by timing your breath to the counts of 4, 7, and 8.
Here’s how to do it (according to Harvard-trained Dr. Andrew Weil):
1) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. 2) Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. 3) Hold your breath for a count of seven. 4) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. 5) This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
(Check out the video to see how it’s done.)
Bonus: This technique can also help you fall asleep fast at night.
So does it really work?
It seems too simple to be true, but deep, slow breathing is your body’s own built-in stress reliever. Breathing exercises are proven to elicit positive changes in the body and mind. This slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and calms racing thoughts. A regular breathing program can even effectively fight depression.
So you’ll feel that stress and anxiety melt away one breath at a time. It’s like putting the brake on an out-of-control situation, which means you can stop overreacting, respond appropriately, and get back to happy thoughts!
5. Make a decision.
“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
How many times a day do you overstress about something (probably a small, insignificant something)? Like what to eat, what to pack in your kids’ lunches, what to do with free time (if you have any), what to make for dinner, what outfit to dress your baby in…
It all takes a ton of mental energy. What if you stopped endlessly mulling it over and just decided already?
Simply making a decision brings a feeling of relief, reduces anxiety, and means you can now take action, all of which leave you feeling more positive.
Neuroscientist Alex Korb explains in his book, The Upward Spiral:
“Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.”
Awesome. But we all know this is easier said than done. So how can you turn into a high-powered, no-excuse, fast decision-making machine?
Try love the 5 second rule from motivational expert Mel Robbins.
“You have about a five second window in which you can move from idea to action before your brain kicks into full gear and sabotages any change in behavior.”
This simple technique of counting down from 5 and then launching into action eliminates all that garbage you put in your own way so you can quickly make decisions and get on with life.
Watch this and try it!
(Of course if you have a big decision that requires a lot of thought and research, this wouldn’t be applicable; but for everyday unnecessary overthinking, it’s life changing!)
I hope one (or more) of these tips will help you take mood-boosting action. Try combining them (listen to motivating music while you get your exercise outdoors) for a real lift!
Remember, it’s not at all selfish to prioritize your own emotional health. When Mom’s happy, everyone’s happy!
Have any tips of your own? Share ‘em below!
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