Happiness is an arbitrary feeling – but it’s something we all desire. Unfortunately, anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression have a way of zapping our positivity and suppressing our moods. Do you know how to break out of the cycle?
The Loneliness Problem
Loneliness is a pervasive issue in American society – one that rarely gets discussed in the open. But with COVID-19 requiring millions to be socially isolated from others, there’s never been a better time to address the issue.
Loneliness reportedly impacts 25 to 60 percent of older Americans (and is often a leading factor in unhealthy habits and conditions like smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity). But it impacts young people as well. According to one study, 29 percent of millennials say they “always” or “often” feel lonely.
Unfortunately, loneliness is one of the leading causes of depression and a primary factor in suppressed happiness and life satisfaction. Thus, tens of millions of Americans are failing to live the lives they desire.
7 Ways You Can Elevate Your Mood
The good news is that doctors, researchers, and psychologists know a lot about how the brain works, which factors impact moods, and how individuals can modulate their behaviors to increase their chances of feeling happy and healthy.
Here are a few of the top recommendations:
1. Get Out of the House
Loneliness isn’t always directly linked to social isolation. (It’s possible to be lonely in a crowded room of people.) However, it’s often one of the factors involved. So, the best remedy is to get out of your house and take a walk.
During periods of quarantine where local governments impose rules on when and how you can leave your premises, it might not always be easy or convenient to get out. However, as long as you’re healthy and willing to follow the proper protocol that health officials have enacted, you should make it a point to get out and breathe in some fresh air.
2. Call a Friend
Can’t get out of the house? Don’t feel like being out in public? Try picking up the phone and calling a close friend.
A phone call is far more powerful than a text. The simple act of hearing someone else’s voice and entering into a conversational cadence with someone you love and trust is enough to instantly make you feel better.
3. Do Something Productive
One of the best ways to boost your mood is to do something productive. It doesn’t have to be monumental or highly significant – it just needs to be actionable.
“Productivity gives you purpose,” Memory.ai mentions. “Having purpose in your life gives you a reason to get up every morning, and when you reach a goal your self-esteem rockets. Striving towards something gives you energy, focus and conviction; people who lack this direction are rarely happy.”
Productivity could look like unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming your bedroom, drawing a picture, sorting through the clutter in your email inbox, doing a 30-minute jog on the treadmill, or mowing the lawn.
4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Are you familiar with the vagus nerve? It’s arguably the most important nerve in your body (and one of the largest). And it can actually be stimulated to produce positive physical and emotional effects.
Some of the key benefits of vagus nerve stimulation include reduced stress, improved focus, and better mood regulation.
How do you stimulate the vagus nerve? While there are surgical procedures that can be preformed for people with significant health issues, the majority of people will benefit from a much gentler and more convenient approach. Xen by Neuvana is one option. These are proprietary earbuds that correspond with a connected app to allow people to stimulate the vagus nerve by simply listening to music.
5. Laugh a Little More
According to a study conducted by Stanford University researchers, laughter increases the level of dopamine in the brain (the chemical that elevates mood). It also increases oxygen in the body and “cools” down the biological stress response system. So do yourself a favor and laugh more!
6. Improve Your Diet
What if you could eat your way to a better mood? Well, perhaps you can. But unlike sticking a spoon into a tub of ice cream or demolishing a bag of Cheetos, we’re encouraging you to adopt a healthy diet.
Research shows that food plays a key role in mood and irritability. Foods that are high in sugar and unhealthy fats tend to produce volatile blood sugar levels. Fresher, balanced options that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, protein, vitamin D, fiber, and other nutrients tend to have the opposite effect.
7. Try These Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques might seem a little hokey to someone who has never tried them, but they actually work wonders. In addition to reduce stress, they’re shown to elevate moods. Techniques include:
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Focused breathing
- Guided imagery
Research some of these techniques and find one that interests you. Try it for one week and notice the results. If the method works, stick with it. If it doesn’t, try another technique the following week.
Rediscover the Heart of Life
You aren’t always going to feel like you’re on Cloud 9. But you also don’t have to live life in the dumps. By weaving strategic behaviors and habits into the fabric of your daily life, you can boost your mood and enjoy more moments of happiness and satisfaction (regardless of whether you’re living in a connected world, or one where social isolation is the order of the day).