Tag Archives: lift your spirits

12 Ways to Indulge Yourself on a Budget

Have you been struggling with deadlines or a demanding boss all day? Fighting with the kids or your spouse? Do you just need a break and some self-indulgence?

As I start to see a glimpse of spring and warmer weather, I feel like it’s time to have a little fun. There are many small and unexpected ways to put a little bliss back into your life. Part of finding your balance is also about taking care of yourself.

Here are 12 small ways you can indulge yourself without breaking the bank or feeling guilty:

Go outside
Take a stroll in the woods. Research has found that being out in nature for as little as 5 minutes benefits your mental and physical health. If you can’t get outside, then at least look outside. Even a window view of nature can elevate your mood. Just think about it – it’s unnatural to spend our time in windowless buildings when we used to spend our whole existence outdoors.

Clean out a drawer or closet
To me, cleaning for fun seems to be in opposition with my basic nature of avoiding housework. However, I have to say, there is something relaxing about organizing a part of your life when everything else is feeling chaotic and out of control. So, organize a closet, desk, pantry or junk drawer – and enjoy the feeling of peace.

Play your favorite song
Listening to a favorite song can trigger the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain. All that matters is that it’s a melody that stirs you. Repetition nurtures the pleasure – so play it again and again!

Have a glass of wine
If you enjoy a glass of good wine or even sipping a cold beer, then indulge your senses with new flavor selections or drink it along with a great meal. You can soak in the pleasure of simply relaxing with your favorite beverage.

Keep a momento on your desk
Do you eat a small snack in the afternoon to boost your energy? Try placing something emotionally important to you on your desk where you work for a mental boost. You may have a souvenir from a special vacation, a favorite photo from your wedding or a keepsake from when your kids were small. Glancing at this momento during the work day is sure to give your spirits a quick lift.

Soak in the tub in the dark
Run a really hot tub full of water, dim the lights, burn a candle and give yourself a full hour to unwind. You can even use some mint or lavender oil to add a lovely scent to the bath. Close your eyes and relax in the warmth.

Pet a dog
It doesn’t even have to be your dog. Pet any dog or cat to enjoy the benefits. Physical contact with animals increases the chemicals in the brain associated with pleasure and decreases those associated with stress.

Eat some chocolate
Few things feel as indulgent as eating dark chocolate. Make sure you eat it slowly and savor the flavors. Make the experience last! Plus, dark chocolate may lower your blood pressure, increase blood flow and improve your “good” cholesterol levels.

Put the kettle on
Even with a coffee shop on every corner, the average American drinks more than 9 gallons of tea a year. Drinking green or black tea can reduce stress hormones over time. And, there’s just something indulgent about sitting down with a warm cup of tea.

Create a soothing scent
People have been using aromatic herbs for centuries to create great smelling scents. Now research shows that aromatherapy may be good for you. Breathing in natural perfumed scents can lift your mood. You can also stop and smell the flowers, literally. You’ll be enjoying the outdoors and taking in nature’s own aromas!

Take a nap
One of my greatest pleasures is to take a short nap during the day. Snuggle up in a comfy spot with pillows and a fluffy blanket. As we’ve mentioned in past blogs, naps are good for your mind and body. They can help improve your concentration and lift your mood. Taking a 10 – 20 minute nap in the afternoon can give you the boost you need to enjoy the day.

Give
Humans are altruistic by nature. When you act generously, you will feel joy. Find a charity or cause to support and make a donation. In addition, volunteering and helping others – without expecting anything in return – is actually good for your health.

Happiness can be elusive at times. You can create your own small pleasures and put some joy back in your life. What are your best tips for rewarding and refreshing yourself without spending a lot of time or money?

 

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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.

11 Foods to Boost Your Mood

fresh-vegetables-3-1432292-mI have been focused on my mood lately. Your mood, mindset and outlook on life can have a big impact on bringing all the elements of your life into balance. It can be difficult to exercise, eat right and get enough sleep when you’re in a bad mood. Your disposition can affect your relationships, stress level and even your spiritual well-being.

We recently wrote a blog that presented 9 Truths About Your Mood. We also talked about the 10 Health Benefits of Smiling and how putting on a happy face can lift your spirits and change your outlook.

As we head into the fall season, here are more ideas for boosting your mood. You may not realize that the foods you eat can help put you in a good mood.

Here are 11 foods to boost your mood:

Leafy greens
When you’re feeling grouchy, go for a spinach salad instead of a sweet snack. Dark, leafy greens like those found in spinach, asparagus and Brussel sprouts are packed with folic acid, or folate. Folate is a B vitamin that helps the brain synthesize mood chemicals, such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. You can also get folate from potatoes, fortified breads and cereals, beans, peas and mushrooms.

Fruits and veggies (or whole foods)
You already know you need to eat your fruits and vegetables every day. Here’s another reason to eat these whole foods. A diet rich in fruits and veggies provides antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals that can boost your overall health. In fact, those who eat more whole foods and less fatty, processed and sugar-laden foods are at a lower risk of depression.

Dark chocolate
While most of us already know that chocolate improves our mood based on personal experience, science shows that chocolate does in fact make you happy. Eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate (1.4 ounces) every day for two weeks has been shown to reduce stress hormones like cortisol.

Bananas
Bananas contain dopamine, which is a natural chemical that boosts your mood. Bananas also provide B vitamins and magnesium – both nutrients aid in creating a positive mood.

Protein
If you start to feel tired and moody, grab a snack made of high-quality protein. For instance, a scrambled egg, handful of almonds, or a few cubes of cheese.

Purple berries
Blueberries and blackberries get their deep purple color from a pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment is an antioxidant that allows your brain to produce dopamine, which helps improve your mood, memory function and coordination.

Omega-3 fats
Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in your emotional well-being. They may also protect against depression. You can find Omega-3 fats in salmon and other fatty fish, flaxseed and walnuts.

Saffron
Saffron, a spice that is popular in Middle Eastern, Indian and Spanish foods, is made from the dried stigmas of crocus plants. Saffron has been used in Eastern cultures for healing and for nerve-calming purposes. Researchers believe the spice has the same affect as Prozac by making serotonin more available to the brain.

Smart carbs
The link between carbohydrates and your mood has to do with tryptophan. It’s an amino acid that helps your brain produce more serotonin and improve your mood. Be sure to make smart carb choices, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. You’ll get good carbs as well as other important nutrients and fiber.

Green Tea
If you’re feeling anxious or unable to concentrate, drinking a cup of green tea can help calm you down and give you more focus. Green tea contains theanine and is gentler on your body than coffee. In addition, tea has less caffeine than coffee, so it won’t give you the jitters or set you on edge.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body process all of these mood boosting vitamins and nutrients. It also increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. As we head into fall and have less sun exposure, be sure to get as much vitamin D as you can each day from the foods you eat.

Your mood and outlook have a huge impact on your ability to keep all aspects of your life in balance. Good wholesome foods are a foundation for good health and overall well-being. Do you have certain foods that help you focus, tackle your day and boost your mood?

9 Truths About Your Mood

happy-1207721-mMy husband asked me a few days ago why I was in such a bad mood. I didn’t really have an answer for him. I realized I had been rather grouchy the last few days, but I couldn’t pinpoint why I was feeling so down.

So, I did some research into our moods. Are there certain things that can affect our mood – both positively and negatively?

See if you agree with these 9 truths that can put you in a good mood or bring you down in the dumps:

Who you spend time with matters
Some people complain about everything. If you spend time around someone who likes to gripe but doesn’t want to solve their problems, it can bring you down. You feel drained and some of their negative outlook can rub off on you. It’s important to spend time with friends whose company you truly enjoy. It’s good for your health and overall well-being.

Multi-tasking can tax your mood
Trying to juggle several balls at once can limit your ability to fully focus on and enjoy what you’re doing. It’s better to do one thing at a time and give it your full attention. Living in the moment helps you be fully present in the now, rather than worrying about what you need to do next, or even next week.

Exercise can make you feel good
Exercise helps the brain create new neurons, boost blood flow to the brain, and increase the levels of key chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. In addition, you’ll most likely feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish exercising, as well as many other rewards from a good workout.

Being disorganized can bring you down
Spending time looking for items or shuffling papers can leave you stressed and anxious. You may have misplaced your keys and end up being late for work. You can’t find an important document or forget to pay the credit card bill. By getting more organized, you can be more efficient and have greater peace of mind. Your mood will benefit when everything falls into place.

Music can lift your spirits
Music has been shown to lift a person’s mood, but it may depend on the type of music. Some music can improve moods while other music can make your mood worse. Learn more about the health benefits of music.

The weather can impact your mood
I will definitely agree that the weather can bring my mood down. I tend to get sinus migraines when rainy weather is coming. About 10% of US adults suffer from mood disorders, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD most often occurs in winter but can happen any time of the year. Sunshine can boost your mood and “spring fever” has been studied as a real phenomenon that can be brought on by warmer temperatures after cold weather.

Thinking about money can make you unhappy
Studies have shown that just thinking about money can make people unhappy. It’s not just worrying about daily spending or trying to balance your bank account. Experiments show that even subconscious reminders of money can dampen our spirits. So, create a budget, make sure your finances are in order, and then let it go.

Foods can affect your mood
Certain foods may help boost your mood. Studies show that people who eat more olive oil, salmon and walnuts are less likely to be depressed. These foods are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and could have mood-boosting properties. On the other hand, eating a lot of sugar and carbs may make you feel good at the time, but you will crash later and feel tired and unmotivated.

A smile makes things better
Studies have shown that smiling can alter our stress responses in certain situations. Smiling, even if you’re not happy, can slow your heart rate and decrease perceived levels of stress. Smiling tells your body that everything is okay. Smiles are also contagious. When you smile at someone, it’s hard not to smile back. You can share your good mood with others.

While outside forces can have an impact on your mood, the biggest part of your mood is controlled by you. You can choose to let the external influences roll off of you and make a conscious decision to be in a good mood. Smile and enjoy the moment!

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!