5 Activities Guaranteed to Boost Your Mood Within 30 Minutes
Raise your hand if you feel stressed. Burnt out? A little anxious?
Life gets hard sometimes – whether that’s from this teeny speed bump known as the global pandemic, or from something as small as trying to fit in a grocery run into an already jam-packed day.
And it sucks. Not only because it makes it harder to feel like you can conquer your day, but it’s also impacting your quality of sleep. When you’re stressed, your brain and nervous system send messages through your body that keep you feeling alert, and in turn, more awake and unable to relax or shut off (how many times have you closed your eyes and mentally gone through the day’s issues and what you’ll need to tick off tomorrow?).
Sadly the solution isn’t as easy as telling yourself to stop stressing so much (if only…), but there are a few simple things you can do to help reduce how overwhelming it can all feel, and have you coping a bit better.
Besides the fact that exercising releases endorphins that can leave you feeling happier and lighter, stepping away from what’s stressing you out, and getting your heart rate up (even if for just a 30-minute walk in your suburb) can help clear your head and reframe your thinking. And if you find you have trouble tearing yourself away to fit in a session, set an alarm or schedule the time in your calendar.
Write a to-do list
When we’re stressed about multiple things, we’re all guilty of trying to manage them all at once – but that only contributes to more stress. Write down every task you need to complete in a day so you have a clear vision of what’s ahead, then tackle each one with dedicated time and attention. Once you start doing that and ticking things off, your day might not seem so insurmountable and that’ll help calm those anxious feelings.
Once you get into the swing of meditation, the benefits are enormous in terms of rest and relaxation. Even a short 20-minute session can help activate serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, which then helps the body rest, relax and restore. But it’s not always easy to switch off your mind and focus on nothing but your breathing and finding a sense of inner calm – especially if you’ve never tried meditating before. Thankfully there are resources that can help guide you through – look into the apps Headspace and Smiling Mind to get into the groove, or try Soul Alive’s 5-Week Mindfulness Challenge, and don’t beat yourself up if you find your focus drifting in the first few sessions. It takes some perseverance, but it’s 100 per cent worth it.
Write in your gratitude journal
This one may feel a bit weird (especially if you’re not someone who enjoys journaling), but by writing down and expressing the things you’re grateful for – even if it’s that your barista nailed your coffee that morning – can help you see the positives in your day and can actually leave you feeling a bit calmer.
Dance it out
Put on your favourite Spotify playlist, step back from the laptop, and get lost in the music. Or do a puzzle. Or make a cup of tea and sit and do nothing while you drink it. Give yourself breaks in your day to collect your thoughts away from whatever is stressing you out. Try to do something that’ll make you smile and laugh – even the simple act of a positive facial expression can release the tension you’ve been holding onto, and have you thinking differently.