Tag Archives: health benefits

14 Easy Ways to Lift Your Spirits

To me, the winter months always seem to drag monotonously toward spring. The weather is cold, dreary and gloomy. I may not see the sun for days – or even weeks – at a time. Let’s just say I can get a bit grouchy during this time. (My family would probably say A LOT grouchy.)

You can find quick and simple ways to lift your spirits. Remember that true happiness doesn’t come from a paycheck, material goods or warm weather. A good part of the joy you find in life comes from finding easy ways to make yourself happy.

Here are 14 tips to help you lift your mood and boost your happiness level:

Drink coffee or tea in the morning
Regular, modest caffeine intake can help regulate your mood. Research shows that when you enjoy four cups of black tea a day it leads to fewer stress hormones being released. Or, if you’re more of a coffee person, you can drink a few cups of java. In fact, coffee has additional health benefits.

Spend time with friends
Good friends are good for you and your spirits. Your friends foster a feeling of belonging, purpose and boost your self esteem. Strong friendships can help keep you on a mentally even keel. Whether you get together for drinks or dinner, call on the phone or text about the ups and downs of your day, friends can improve your mood. Here are more reasons why we need friends.

Eat mood-boosting foods
To help boost your mood, you can eat foods that are naturally high in serotonin, such as walnuts, tomatoes, kiwi, bananas, sour cherries, plums and pineapple. Tryptophan is also a natural mood booster. Tryptophan is found in proteins, including turkey, fish, chicken, nuts, cheese, eggs, cottage cheese and beans. Learn more about foods to boost your mood.

Get a massage
Massage can be good for your physical and mental health. When you get a massage, your body releases endorphins. Massage also reduces stress hormones, lowers anxiety and raises your immunity. Shut out your surroundings and the chaos, relax and let some happiness seep into your day.

Break your routine
Sometimes I feel stuck in a rut. Get out of your regular routine, and your mood may lift with it. Go out for dinner on a Tuesday night instead of Friday. Have lunch at a new place once a week. Take a different route to work or wear something that is normally “not you.” A small change can make a bigger difference in your outlook for the day.

Open your shades
I have a huge picture window in my living room and then patio doors in my dining room. I like to leave the blinds shut in the winter because it helps cut down on the cold air. Yet, I realized it felt like I was living in a cave or dungeon. Make sure you open the shades in your bedroom, living room or office even when it’s cold. Studies show that morning light exposure can benefit your mood.

Take a walk outside
If you work in an office without windows or sun exposure, make sure you step outside a few times a day to soak up the sunshine. Even if it’s overcast, fresh air can help lift your spirits.

Bang on something
Researchers believe that drumming helps to relax the body. I personally think that kicking and punching things can help you feel better, too. You can use a punching bag or take a kickboxing class.

Clear the clutter
Disorganization can make me anxious. Clutter reminds us of the things we should be getting done but haven’t taken care of yet. For a quick fix, straighten up a few surfaces in your office or in the areas of your house where you spend the most time. Feeling more ordered in your personal spaces can help you feel more at ease and give you peace of mind. Here are some tips to organizing and decluttering.

Watch something funny
Studies show that a good laugh gets rid of stress, boosts your immunity, improves your heart function and lowers your blood pressure. A good chuckle can also keep blood sugar levels low and aids in better digestion. You can watch a comedic movie, a funny TV series or goofy YouTube videos. Laughter and even simply smiling can be good for your overall health.

Do a good deed
There is nothing like the act of giving to help us feel more appreciative of what we have and give us a mood boost. Do some research and find a group that could use your talents and skills. Learn more about the health benefits of doing good.

Indulge your senses
Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile senses can quickly change your mood. Aromatherapy can be good for your health. Breathing in natural perfumed scents, such as lavender, can lift your spirits. Bake cookies and enjoy the yummy smells and warmth of the kitchen. Listen to soothing music. Soak in a scented bubble bath, or put flower arrangements around the house.

Give a kiss or hug
It’s a good feeling to be loved. Kiss your spouse, your kids or your mom. Smooching your significant other may even help reduce your cholesterol. You can cuddle up and watch TV together or give your family members and close friends a hug – just because. You can also hug and pet a furry friend to lower blood pressure and bring on a sense of calm.

Do something you love
You may like listening to music, dancing, taking photos, working on craft projects or tending a garden. You can even sit on your deck, take in nature or read a novel. To lift your spirits, make time to do something you enjoy – even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes.

Your mood goes a long way to helping you achieve a more balanced life. If you’re grouchy or feeling down, you may not have the motivation to exercise, eat right or hang out with friends. Take a few minutes each day to lift your spirits and appreciate the little things in life.

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10 healthy habits for the new year

new year healthier youI make New Year’s resolutions every year, but rarely keep them. This year, I plan to focus on establishing healthy habits. I am continuing on the path to creating a more balanced life.

Choosing healthier habits for the new year can be easy and rewarding. Here are 10 healthy habits that we can start right now:

Get moving
I have good intentions to exercise every day. Then, I climb in bed at night without fitting in any real exercise, unless you count climbing in and out of the car and up and down the stairs to do laundry. I think my problem is that I feel I should plan and structure my exercise. In reality, I just need to go do it. When I have a few spare minutes, I need to go for a walk, turn on the radio and dance or play tag with my kids.

It’s important to make exercise part of your daily routine. When you make exercising a habit, it simply becomes as vital to you as eating and sleeping. The only way to make it a habit is to get moving and just do it.

Sleep more
I need to get more sleep. I like to stay up late, but then it takes me a while to get going in the morning. I tend to feel sluggish all day. I plan to go to bed earlier in the new year and strive for at least eight hours of sleep. In addition to improving your concentration and mood, getting enough sleep has many health benefits.

Drink water
We have talked about the health benefits of drinking water in the past. Water allows your body to flush out toxins and deliver vital nutrients to your cells. Women need about 9 cups of water a day and men should get 13 cups a day. Make it a goal to drink a cup of water every hour from breakfast to dinner.

Cut back on sugar and caffeine
It may seem contradictory, but cutting back on sugar can actually increase your energy levels. You are able to minimize the highs and lows that sweet treats can cause. Most of us are already over-stimulated by the stresses of everyday life – adding in caffeine just makes us more jittery and on edge. You will find more balance and maintain a level mood by keeping sugar and caffeine to a minimum.

Set a budget
I have a hard time sticking to a budget. We live in a world of instant gratification. You want it – you go buy it. However, it can be more satisfying to save money and live on a budget. You can reward yourself with larger purchases once you have achieved your goals of paying off credit cards, saving for a vacation, or planning for college educations or retirement. You can reduce your stress levels and feel more balanced when you live within a budget.

Eat your vegetables
I admit it – I do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. I need to change my habit of grabbing packaged foods and choose to eat more healthy options. Veggies give you many of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to work properly and fight infections. They can help protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer and many more illnesses. Try to work a rainbow of vegetables into your diet.

Reconnect with friends
I get so caught up in work, taking care of my kids and doing chores that I forget to make time for my friends. We need our friends for better health. In fact, our friends may help us live longer. Make it a habit to spend time with your friends and improve your health!

Get organized
Clutter is a part of modern life. We simply tend to collect a lot of stuff. Your clutter can bring you down, though. Make it a goal to declutter your living space in 2014 and get in the habit of keeping it that way. Reorganize your living room for better use and flow. Clean out your kitchen cabinets and get rid of things that aren’t good for you, including processed foods containing white flours, sugar and unhealthy oils.

Volunteer
I tend to think I’m in control of my own happiness. However, I have learned that our happiness also increases when we help others. Being happy is good for your health. Plan to find new ways to give back to others in the new year. We need to broaden our horizons and recognize the need to help others.

Make “you” time
Don’t forget to make time for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and chaos of life and forget to take time for yourself. I realized recently that there is very little I do just because I want to do it. I work, take care of my family and run a household. I am making it a goal to find something that I find rewarding.

What healthy habits would you like to develop in 2014? What tips do you have for sticking with your healthy goals?

9 health benefits of drinking coffee

Cup of coffee health benefitsI am not a morning person. My family knows it’s best not to talk to me until I’ve been up for at least an hour, possibly two hours.

Otherwise, you might get your head bitten off. Don’t expect me to make any decisions. And, if you tell me anything important in that first hour that I’m awake, it’s very likely that I won’t remember it at all.

I love my morning cup of coffee. I only have one cup – but it’s a gigantic 16-ounce cup of coffee. I love the smell. I love the warmth. And I love the taste. I have probably started every day with a cup of coffee for over 20 years. I honestly don’t think I could do without it.

You hear all sorts of bad things about coffee. For instance, it will stunt your growth. My dad used to tell me when I was a kid and wanted to drink his coffee that it would “put hair on my knees.” There have even been claims that it can cause heart disease and cancer.

More recent research has shown that coffee has many health benefits when you drink it in moderate amounts. Here are 9 health benefits of drinking coffee:

Live longer
A few recent studies have shown that drinking coffee can actually help you live longer. During one study, men who drank 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day were 10% less likely to have died during the study. Women who drank the same amount were 13% less likely to have died.

Fight cancer
The likelihood of getting some kinds of cancer – including prostate, oral and liver cancer or breast cancer recurrence – may be lessened by drinking coffee. While scientists aren’t sure how coffee helps lessen the chances of these types of cancer, it’s worth it to keep drinking coffee.

Prevent Parkinson’s
Coffee may lower the chances of developing Parkinson’s disease as well as lessen the symptoms of the disease. Drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risks of developing the disease by as much as 25%.

Protect against diabetes
Consuming 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day may lower your chances of developing type II diabetes by 25%. Each additional cup of coffee lowered the risk even further.

Reduce dementia and Alzheimer’s
Coffee not only gives us a short-term caffeine boost to sharpen our minds, it can also give us a similar affect for the long-term. Coffee drinkers have up to a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Lower risk of heart disease and stroke
Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In one study, those who drank 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for heart-related concerns.

Take in antioxidants
Coffee is rich in antioxidants. When present in your bloodstream, antioxidants can build up your immune system and help you fight off sickness. Coffee also serves as a source for several vitamins and minerals, such as riboflavin, niacin, potassium and manganese.

Protect your skin
Drinking coffee may also help protect you against developing basal cell carcinoma – the most common type of skin cancer. It may be the caffeine found in coffee that helps reduce the risk of this cancer.

Combat depression
Drinking coffee may help fight depression. If you drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day, you are 10% less likely to be depressed than those who didn’t drink coffee. Researchers believe that the antioxidants found in coffee may provide mood-lifting benefits.

So, relax and enjoy a few cups of coffee. But, keep in mind that moderation is still the key. Too much of a good thing can still be harmful.

Do you start your day off with a good cup of coffee? What is your favorite thing about drinking coffee?

9 healthy benefits of eggs

Health benefits leftover Easter eggsWill the Easter Bunny leave colored eggs at your house this weekend? And I don’t mean the chocolate-filled kind.

Once Easter is over, what are you going to do with all of those hard boiled eggs? You should eat them! Twenty years ago, eggs were considered bad for us because of the cholesterol content. Now eggs are believed to offer many healthy benefits.

Reduce risk of cancer
Whole eggs are one of the best sources of the nutrient choline, which may decrease the likelihood of having breast cancer. Choline is mostly found in the yolk, so make some scrambled or deviled eggs. In addition, the selenium in eggs may decrease your risk of skin cancer.

Better vision
A recent study has shown that eating just one egg a day can boost the levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in your blood. Both of these antioxidants can ward off macular degeneration. Eggs may also help lower your chances of developing cataracts.

Stronger muscles
Protein plays an important role in building muscles. Eggs have a high concentration of an amino acid called leucine. It turns protein into more muscular biceps and legs as well as a stronger chest, back and abs.

Youthful skin
Eating eggs can also help you look younger longer. Eggs are filled with Vitamin A and copper. Both of these nutrients assist with tissue regeneration and help your body keep your skin strong and healthy.

Improved immune system
Eggs contain selenium, which can boost your immune system function. Eggs can also help you ward off skin infections.

Reduce inflammation
Inflammation can be linked to many ailments, such as heart disease and cancer. In addition, it can leave you feeling weak and fatigued. The choline in eggs reduces inflammation because it helps your body produce new cell membranes. This may, in turn, help you ward of diseases caused by or worsened by inflammation.

Improved brain function
The choline and lecithin in eggs may improve the way your brain functions. Eggs can also help regulate your nervous system and boost your cardiovascular health. Eggs contain omega-3 fatty acid, which can help you keep your brain sharp and improve your mood.

Healthy hair
Eggs contain a combination of vitamins that help improve the overall health of your hair. Vitamin D prevents hair loss, vitamin A improves scalp health, biotin creates thicker hair, and vitamin B prevents graying.

Lose weight
You can replace your morning carbs with eggs and lose weight. Eggs are a source of protein, and protein provides energy and keeps you feeling full longer. You can also exercise more efficiently because eggs help you build muscle and burn fat.

Are you ready to eat eggs now? But, how are you going to eat all of those hard boiled eggs? Here are a few dish ideas to add some excitement to your leftover Easter eggs.

  • Deviled eggs
  • Potato salad
  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Cobb salad with eggs
  • Egg and cheese quesadilla

Do you have a favorite dish you like to make with leftover Easter eggs? Please share your ideas and recipes with us!

14 healthy foods that boost energy

1411446_empty_and_full_1I start to drag in the afternoons at about 2pm. I crave foods that are not the best choices, such as cookies, cake, donuts or any prepackaged sugary treat.

Most of us suffer from fatigue from time to time. We are stressed, often sleep deprived and eat fast food on the go. Our bodies simply run out of fuel. One of the best ways to fight fatigue is by eating foods that boost energy. Smart and healthy food choices can help improve your overall health and well-being. They can also help you feel more energized.

All foods give you energy, but how the energy is released determines which foods are better at helping you feel more invigorated. Caffeine and energy drinks can give you a quick energy boost, but the right foods can help keep you going all day long.

Our fuel comes from the food we eat, but some foods can provide a richer and more long-term source of energy than others. Here are 14 healthy, energy boosting foods:

Vegetables
Green vegetables contain vitamins and minerals – including vitamin B, magnesium and iron – that help boost energy. Some examples include spinach, asparagus and broccoli. Cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, watercress and kale are all high in nutrition and act as energy boosters.

Cereals
Cereals are typically digested slowly so they release over time and help keep your blood sugar more level. Many cereals, such as shredded wheat, corn flakes, bran flakes and oatmeal are good energy boosters. They also contain fiber which helps your body release energy steadily.

Eggs
Eggs are a good source of protein. Protein helps with almost all of your bodily functions so you experience improved energy levels. Eggs also contain iron which is good for sustaining energy throughout the day.

Nuts
All nuts are a good source of minerals and are high in nutrition. Nuts have vitamins A, B and E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Almonds are a good source of healthy fats and have protein that helps balance out blood sugar. Almonds also improve heart health and may lower risks of some cancers. Walnuts also have energy boosting properties and overall health benefits.

Seeds
Many seeds, including pumpkin and sunflower, are rich in minerals and contain protein. They are also a great source of magnesium and iron.

Fruits
Fresh fruits – apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, watermelon, pineapples, bananas – can give you an energy boost. Fruits have simple carbohydrates or sugars which are easy for your body to break down and use for energy. Fruits are also rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and water.

Citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, contain vitamin C which is good for your immune system. Dark berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, are full of antioxidants. They can be good for your heart health by helping to lower blood pressure.

Beans and lentils
Beans and lentils are good sources of carbohydrates and potassium. Lentils and other legumes, such as kidney beans and chick peas, help level out blood glucose levels so that you avoid that mid-afternoon crash.

Honey
Honey has been called nature’s energy booster. It is great for building up your immune system. Honey is also a natural remedy for many ailments, such as sore throats, sleeplessness and may even have cancer-fighting properties.

Green and other teas
Green tea gives energy to your entire body. It’s also a great source of antioxidants. Green tea offers many other health benefits, including fight cancer and heart disease, lowering cholesterol, burning fat for weight loss, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.

Chamomile tea is great for calming the mind and reducing stress. Black tea may help lower levels of cortisol when you drink it on a regular basis. Ginger tea is also fused with nutrients and can help you avoid afternoon fatigue.

Yogurt
Eating yogurt gives you both protein and carbohydrates – both of which can give you energy and a feeling of fullness. Yogurt also contains probiotics which are known to aid in healthy digestion.

Water
Our good friend water has so many health benefits. Water keeps your body hydrated and allows it to work at optimum levels. It helps you digest, absorb and process nutrients. If you don’t drink enough water, you can become dehydrated and may experience a feeling of fatigue. So, drink more water!

Peanut butter
Peanut butter that contains monounsaturated fat can be a healthy choice for a snack. It has protein, potassium and iron. Smart snacking with smart carbs and protein-rich foods can help keep your blood sugar level throughout the day and give you the energy to tackle whatever comes your way.

Salmon
Salmon is great source for omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein. Cold water fish, like salmon, sardines and tuna, give you more omega-3 fatty acids than warm water fish. Omega-3 fatty acids aid in energy production, brain activity and are good for heart health.

Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate provides energy by supplying your body with magnesium and iron. It contains flavenoids that help keep your blood vessels healthy and reduce inflammation. Dark chocolate may also lower cortisol – a stress hormone that can lead you to eat more and gain weight. That’s plenty of reasons for me to eat chocolate!

So, fuel your body with energy boosting foods. You’ll feel better throughout the day and be on your way to creating a healthier, more balanced you!

Easy relaxation techniques to reduce stress

1121962_meditationThe kitchen faucet is leaking. One of my kids can’t find her P.E. clothes and the school bus is coming. I need to deposit checks, pick up the finished taxes, drop off the dehumidifier to be fixed, and get my gray roots touched up sometime. Oh, and get a little work done, too.

This is just a sample list of the types of things we all deal with on daily basis. Some stress is good for us. It helps us stay motivated to get things done, and it keeps our minds focused and active. On the other hand, too much stress can be harmful to our physical and mental health.

How can you find the right balance between a little bit of good stress and too much stress? If your hectic lifestyle is getting to you, here are a few relaxation techniques that can bring you back into balance – quickly and easily:

Meditate
When you think of meditation, you may picture twisting your legs into the lotus position, holding your hands up and repeating, “Ohmmm.” However, any repetitive action can act as meditation and help you relax. For instance, walking, swimming, painting and crocheting can help you focus on the moment and find calmness.

The idea is to quiet your mind and let your thoughts slow down. If you start feeling overwhelmed, you can also find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. You can focus on an external point, such as a photo or an object, or you can focus internally on an imaginary scene or a calming phrase. Concentrate on your point of focus and push out all the thoughts that are causing stress. You may get distracted and start stressing again. Simply push it aside and go back to your point of focus until you feel more relaxed.

When you meditate, you are giving your mind a rest from thinking and that constant stream of chatter  running through your head. You can let the negative thoughts go and move on.

Visualize yourself relaxed
This technique is called guided imagery or visualization. You focus on pleasant images to replace your negative thoughts or feelings so that you can relax. I live in landlocked southern Illinois, but I love to go to the beach. I like to picture myself sitting in my beach chair, the waves lapping at my toes, a warm wind ruffling my hair, and the sound of waves crashing rhythmically on the shore. Ah, I feel better already!

Breathe deeply
Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, can help you reverse stress by calming your breathing. To practice deep breathing, follow these steps:

  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, pushing your abdomen out as far as possible
  • Let your shoulders and neck muscles relax
  • Begin to exhale slowly and comfortably
  • Focus on feeling relaxed and calm
  • Repeat bullets 1 through 4 up to 5 times

Relax your muscles
When you are feeling stressed, you may find your body becomes more tense. I find that I tense up my neck, shoulders and jaw which can lead to a tension headache. With practice, you can learn progressive muscle relaxation to relax your muscles when you find yourself tensing up. Find a place where you can sit comfortable or even lie down. You may want to start with a few minutes of deep breathing to help you begin to relax.

Then, focus your attention on your right foot. Slowly tighten up the muscles in your right foot squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold it for a count of 10. Relax your foot and feel the tension flowing away as you let your foot go limp. After a moment, focus on your left foot and follow the same process. You can move slowly up your entire body, contracting and relaxing muscles as you go.

It takes some practice but feels great when you get the hang of it. I also use the technique to quickly release the tension I may be holding in a specific area, such as my neck, jaw, shoulders or back.

Think positively
If you find yourself stressed out about a situation and focusing on the possible negative outcomes, take a mental step back. Engage your mind in positive thinking. It can be very powerful! Start by envisioning something that triggers positive feelings in you. You can envision your spouse, your child (or children), a favorite vacation spot or your pet.

Thinking about these things that make you happy will help you slow your breathing, relax and put a smile on your face. With these feelings of relaxation and peace, you will be able to consider the stressful situation from a new perspective. You will most likely find it less overwhelming and more manageable.

Share some love
One of the quickest ways to feel more calm and relaxed is to cuddle with a loved one. Hug your spouse or partner for no reason. Snuggle up with a child and let the child take the conversation where ever it will go. Or, spend time with your pet. Playing fetch with your dog or petting your cat can provide instant relaxation. A side benefit of spending time with those you love is that you also recognize and appreciate the good things in your life.

Take a musical trip
Music can calm your heartbeat and soothe your soul. You may like to have classical, jazz or opera playing softly in the background to help reduce your stress. Or, you may like to crank up some pop or rock and roll to get out your frustrations and dance to the beat. Turn up the radio in your car and sing along. You may get some funny looks from other drivers, but you will most likely feel more relaxed. No matter how you like your music, it can take your mind off your worries so that you can decompress and enjoy the moment.

Drink a cup of tea
I drink a giant cup of coffee to help me get going in the morning. However, coffee can raise the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. I switch to drinking water after my morning coffee, but I also like to have a cup of hot tea in the afternoon or evening. Green tea offers many health benefits, including fight cancer and heart disease, lowering cholesterol, burning fat for weight loss, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia. Chamomile tea is great for calming the mind and reducing stress. Some research has shown that black tea may help lower levels of cortisol when you drink it on a regular basis.

The next time you feel stressed, try a few of these techniques and see what works for you. If you practice them regularly, you will be able to confront that stressed out feeling immediately. You can take control of stress instead of letting it control you.

Do you have techniques you use to help reduce your stress level? Tell us about them!

12 ways to boost your mood

12 ways to boost your moodI often find myself in a bad mood, and I’m not even sure how I got there. Some days my to-do list seems endless. I may be stressed about work, my kids or who knows what.

It’s natural to be down in the dumps every once in a while. Life can be stressful, chaotic and overwhelming. And once a bad mood hits, it can set the tone for your whole day.

It’s so much more rewarding for you – and those around you – to be in a good mood. Having a positive outlook can even be beneficial to your health.

Here are 12 ways you can boost your mood:

Take a break
If a particular task or situation is frustrating you, take a break from it for a few minutes before it puts in you in a bad mood. I often find myself stuck on a task while I’m working. Rather than sit and stew about it and get frustrated, it’s better to step away and get a drink or walk around. I might switch gears and take care of a quick task for a few minutes and then go back to what I was stuck on. Taking a break can head off a bad mood before it can set in.

Focus on the good
It’s easy to get sucked into negative thoughts. If you find yourself dwelling on the bad things, give yourself a mental kick in the behind and focus on what is good in your life. When I find myself obsessing about some small negative detail, I think about all the important things. I have a husband who loves me, three healthy, fairly well-adjusted kids, a roof over my head and food in the refrigerator. How silly is it to feel down about being passed over for a freelance job or having a minor argument with a friend?

Talk to a friend
I have a great friend who lets me call her up and vent about whatever is weighing on my mind and bringing down my mood. And, she knows she can call me up and do the same. Just telling someone your troubles and having them listen to you can lift your spirits. Your friends can help keep you healthy, too.

Get moving
I know, if you’re already in a bad mood, do you really want to exercise? Yet, exercising does seem to boost my mood. It may just be that I am proud of myself for actually doing it. However, part of what makes you feel good during and after you exercise is increasing your body temperature. You release beta-endorphins which cause you to feel relaxed. Besides, exercise is good for you!

Listen to music
Jamming to some good tunes can help release feel-good chemicals in your brain, too. Listen to music while you work or do household chores. Or, crank it up loud and dance with your friends or family.

Get plenty of rest
Lack of sleep makes me cranky – and I am more likely to have a short fuse and have my mood turn sour more quickly. Keeping to a regular sleep schedule can improve your mood, fight the winter blues and help you sleep through the night and wake up rested. I know I have had enough sleep if I can wake up in the morning without the alarm.

Drink water
If you are feeling low, try increasing your water intake. Not drinking enough water can make you dehydrated and can lead to a feeling of fatigue or lack of energy. In addition, water has many other health benefits.

Have a healthy snack
When I get hungry, my energy level drops off and my mood can dip. It’s okay to have a healthy, higher carb snack that will help you produce serotonin and elevate your mood. Be sure to avoid the sugary snacks that can actually make you feel good but then cause you to crash later.

Go outside
Sunlight is nature’s mood booster. Get outside and take a walk in your neighborhood. Check out the flowers starting to bloom or watch the clouds changing shapes. Play catch, soccer, frisbee or tag with your kids. Or putter around in your yard or garden. Take a drive and simply enjoy nature.

Hug someone
Be liberal with your affection. Hug or kiss someone – preferably someone you know – every day to show them that you care. If there’s no one close by, call a friend or send a “thinking of you” email to someone you love. Not only will it boost your mood, but probably theirs as well.

Laugh
As the saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine.” If you’re feeling down, talk to a funny friend or co-worker, or watch a comedy show on TV. Laughing releases endorphins and helps improve your mood instantly.

Do something you love
Think of activities you love to do that tend to boost your mood. Maybe you like to sit down with a good book and drink a cup of coffee. You might enjoy cuddling with your kids, watching sports on TV, drawing, taking photos or playing with your cat or dog. No matter how small it may seem, taking the time to do something you love can make a big difference!

Do you have tips or tricks for boosting your mood? Tell us what works for you!