By Lauren Gordon, Behavioural Insights Adviser at Bupa UK
These last few months have left many of us feeling anxious, worried and uncertain about the future. Even with lockdown restrictions lifted, it’s still a testing time for many of us, so it’s completely understandable to experience changes to your mood.
Here Lauren Gordon – a Behavioural Insights Adviser for Bupa UK – shares a few fun ways to lift your mood, when you need a pick-me-up.
Take up a new hobby
If you’re feeling anxious, stressed or sad, trying something new will help you to focus your efforts on something positive. Research has shown that learning new skills can improve our mental wellbeing, help you connect with others and boost your self-esteem. Even though it may feel nerve-wracking to try something different, opening our minds to something new has lots of benefits.
If you’re feeling anxious about spending time with new people at the moment, try to find some online classes to sign up to. There are free apps available to help you learn too.
Otherwise, you can also try something creative like painting or sculpting. Again, classes might be accessible locally, but you can just as easily find tutorials on YouTube if you want to try them out!
Talk to your loved ones
Something simple like speaking to a close friend or family member can lift your mood. It can be a relief to speak about how you’re feeling – a good friend can help give you advice on what may be affecting your mood, and, of course, cheer you up.
Spend some time on mindfulness
Mindfulness has many benefits for our mental health; it can help relieve stress, improve sleep and increase happiness levels. As soon as you wake up, tune into your breathing and set aside five minutes to focus on mindfulness. Mindful moments – like these – can help you to feel calmer and ease you into the day. If your mornings are rushed, why not spend five minutes in the afternoon on mindfulness? It can help you tackle the mid-afternoon slump!
Start a gratitude diary
Get into the habit of writing down three reasons why you’re grateful every day. Try to do this each night before bed, as it will help finish the day on a positive note. Being appreciative of what’s making you happy is a great example of mindfulness and can increase your sense of wellbeing. If you’re grateful because of someone close to you, you should tell them how much you appreciate them; not only will this lift your mood, but it’s likely to lighten up theirs, too.
Focus on your health
It’s so important – especially at the moment – to look after ourselves, both mentally and physically. Factors like our sleep, what we eat and how much we exercise play a huge part in how we feel, so make your health a priority.
If you’re feeling stressed or worried, exercise can give you a mood boost, because it releases feel-good hormones in your body. If you’re not up to it, spending time outdoors and going for a long walk will help. Being outside has lots of benefits for our wellbeing; not only can it boost relaxation, but it can reduce stress and increase your happiness.
If you have a poor night’s sleep, it’s likely you’ll experience a low mood the next day. If you’re struggling with your sleep, there are a few things to try. Make sure you have a relaxing bedtime routine; you may want to include a hot bath, reading a book or practising mindfulness, as these can all help to calm you down before bed. Be sure to power down your digital devices an hour before bed and avoid alcohol or coffee in the evening. As a general rule, don’t drink coffee after 3pm, to help you drift off quickly.
What you eat can also affect your mood. Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet, as they contain the minerals and vitamins we need to keep us healthy. Keep yourself hydrated, so your concentration levels aren’t affected. As a general rule, aim for between eight to 10 glasses of water each day.
If you find you’re struggling with low mood, anxiety or stress for a few weeks, it’s important to speak to a doctor about how you’re feeling, as they will be able to help.