When the going gets tough and stress and anxiety are beginning to drag you down, the popular responses include: going for a walk or run, meditating, or even controlling your breathing. But what happens when you need quick fixes, something in the moment that’s reliable and sure to lift your spirits when they’re feeling hopelessly down? Sure you can turn to clinically proven, mood boosting supplements like KalmPro, but what’s your option when it isn’t available?
It turns out, you can be your own natural medicine – specifically taking advantage of the full power of your senses can kick your body and mind into positive overdrive. By simply engaging one or all five senses, you can drastically change the way you perceive a situation, currently feel or how you will react. The best part: it isn’t hard or complicated, it’s all a matter of good practice.
The phrase “seeing red” has a lot of truth in it when you consider the affects the color red can have on your mood. Studies have shown that warm colors such as red, orange and yellow can evoke emotions that range from feelings of warmth and happiness to that of anger and hostility. Colors on the lighter end of that spectrum such as orange and yellow are typically linked to positive feelings and happiness. Try using these colors to brighten up your workspace or your home, simply setting up flowers or images that include these hues will keep your spirits lifted when you need it most. If you’re looking to ease your feelings or calm your mind, surround yourself with the colors blue or purple. These cool hues are often associated with peace and serenity and your thoughts will alter accordingly when exposed to them. You can also set up a photo of your favorite scenery, whether it’s a portrait of a beach in Thailand, or the view off the summit off your favorite hike. Whatever it is, keep it handy so that the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed you can take a glance at it and immediately feel better.
According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, listening to music can lift your mood and encourage a greater quality of life. Listening to your favorite song for at least an hour a day can help reduce fatigue and can also influence cellular growth and repair. Assuming the song is upbeat and in a positive tune, you’ll find that the little jig your body is itching for is doing wonders for your emotional state. If music isn’t an option, try reaching out to a familiar, intimate or supportive individual; the sound of their voice will be enough to prompt your brain to produce oxytocin a stress-fighting, mood-boosting hormone.
Ever walk past a bakery and are overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia related to your childhood? How about the smell of laundry straight out of the dryer? Aside from hugging the clothing for warmth, you find that the familiar scent makes you feel calm and at ease. This response isn’t a mystery, according to Rachel S. Herz, assistant professor of psychology at Brown University, “Odor affects us based on what is known through associative learning, the process by which one event or item comes to be linked to another due to past experiences”. Identifying a scent that evokes positive memories and ultimately provides a mood boost can help you pull through feelings that bog you down. Many stores offer candles that manage to capture many different scents, investing in one could be the different between a good and bad day. If you don’t have a scent in particular that stimulates positive thoughts, then try lavender or peppermint which are available in the form of essential oils. Lavender has been commonly linked to stimulating feelings of calm and serenity, while peppermint can help you feel more alert, awake and reduce fatigue.
Much like smell, the tastes that you experience can produce positive feelings thanks to associative learning. It’s often why ‘comfort food’ makes people feel better and why satisfying you sweet tooth can make you happier and lift your spirits. That’s why the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed its worth cooking yourself a worthwhile meal or indulging in some goodies (in moderation of course!). Additionally, if you’re in a pinch and need a quick mood boost in the moment, pop a mint or create a lemon cucumber water concoction that will stimulate the nerves in your mouth and send signals to your brain to help energize and uplift your mood.
If there is a puppy, kitten or loved one in your vicinity go and hug them now. The simple act stimulates the release of your mood-boosting hormone, oxytocin. If hugging it out isn’t possible at the moment, then reach for something soft like the fur on your coat, or the soft texture of a scarf. Studies show that even imitating the act of stroking or petting something that emulates fur or hair can help reduce feelings of stress and encourage feelings of calmness. If you need to take your mood to the next level, then book 30 minute massage during your lunch break or after work. Soft tissue work helps release tension and reduce pain in your muscles which can contribute to your feelings of stress and anxiety.