Do you ever just wake up in “a bad mood”? It sucks, right. You just don’t feel so hot, and it puts a cloud on your day and your interactions with people and the world around you. And don’t you love it when you have those days when you’re feeling that “good mood” burst of energy, filled with positive vibes that enliven you and everyone around? It’s safe to say that most of us enjoy the good mood days and not so much the bad mood days. So, what can you do to improve your moods and increase happiness to overcome stress, anxiety, and depression? Let’s take a look!

What Influences Your Mood?

You might think of moods as something you don’t have much control over, but the truth is, there are things you can do to influence your moods. Things like stress, poor habits, physical tension, a worried mind, life pressures, and many other factors go into how you feel. When your life is out of balance you are left feeling stressed, anxious, fearful, tense, and agitated. The more you understand what influences your mood, the more you can figure out what lifestyle changes will help you to feel the best you can. Let’s first look at some areas that you may already be aware of, such as mental health and medical causes.

Mental Health, Moods, and Happiness

Many mental health challenges, including trauma, anxiety, and depression, can lead to changes in your mood. If you struggle with your mental health, you might already be aware of how drastically your mood can shift, often unexpectedly. It’s important to acknowledge how mental health can change our brain chemistry, so that, no matter how hard you try, it may feel impossible to lift out of the funk. If this is you, don’t blame yourself. The struggle is real! If you are experiencing mental health challenges, working with a professional who specializes in working in your areas of struggle, such as trauma, anxiety or depression is important for healing. A specialist can help you to understand the brain-body connection and can support you in healing core wounds. 

Medical Concerns, Body Wisdom, and Moods

Like mental health, medical causes also play a big role in how you feel. Hormone fluctuations affect your mood, and other medical causes like thyroid disorders, stroke, vitamin deficiency, and Parkinson’s might all be the cause of your mood changes. Your body is highly intelligent and it’s important to listen to the cues it tells you on a daily basis.  If you are getting cues from your body that something is awry, and suspect there are medical origins to sudden or long-standing fluctuations in your mood, listen and take action. Try exploring medical reasons for your discomfort with a professional, in addition to making changes in your daily habits. 

Stress and Moods

One of the most common causes of depressed and anxious moods is stress. It is not only the more obvious, severe stress, such as a loss of a job, that can impact you, but the small, daily stressors as well. Consistent, mild forms of emotional stress that you don’t even realize you’re handling, have a big impact on how you feel and behave overall. So, start by taking note of the “bad days” and see if there is a correlation between small or big stressors and consistent low or anxious moods. Perhaps you can journal or take notes on your phone to start to make connections between what’s happening in your life, and how you feel.  Let’s take a look at what you can do to influence your mood, But what about when the causes of overall malaise are not mental health and medical conditions? What can you do? Here are some ways you can shift your mood by shifting your habits. 

What Can You Do to Improve Your Mood?

By shifting your habits, daily routines, and how you spend your time, you can have more command over your moods, and enjoy a more relaxed and calmer mind, body, and being. Here are some simple and more in-depth practices you can engage in to step into that sunshiny feeling.

1. Start A Morning Routine

You might think that a morning routine is one of those popular topics that are on-trend right now and will be gone before we know it, but that isn’t the case.

You likely already have a morning routine, whether it is consciously cultivated or automatic. You may be someone who has a committed practice that includes anything from meditation and prayer to exercise or family time. Often, that’s not the case. Your mornings might consist of brushing your teeth, taking a shower, walking your dogs, making your kids breakfast, or stumbling out of bed and rushing out the door to get to work. On the more extreme side, your morning routine might look more like scrolling on your phone mindlessly, reading news that sets off your nerves, or rushing to get going, perhaps skipping a morning bite and feeling stress from the get-go. Whatever it is, there may be some opportunities to start your day off on a more uplifting note.  

It’s not about reinventing the wheel, but rather experimenting with what things you might shift, add or adjust in your morning to improve your day and your mood. For example, writing out your thoughts in a journal is helpful for clearing your mind. Try doing a brain dump, where you write whatever is on your mind, and keep writing until you feel like you have gotten through all those nagging thoughts. By doing this type of brain dump in the morning, you get those thoughts out on paper to help release tension, while also gaining some clarity.

A few other things you can try are meditation, breathwork practices, stretching, yoga, a short walk, time in the garden or nature, dancing to a song, or keeping mindful awareness when you do your morning activities. Notice what activities make you feel just a little more positively. Then adjust and add or subtract activities based on what really works for you.  Whatever you do, try and commit to a morning routine for a period of time and grow it until you’ve found that perfect balance for you to start your day off right.

2. Commit to Better Sleep Hygiene

The next most important thing you can do each day when you want to boost your mood naturally is to get better sleep. It’s not simply about how many hours of sleep you get, though that is definitely important. For proper sleep hygiene, you want to focus on the nighttime routine you have before you go to sleep. Here are some tips for building a healthy sleep routine.

First, start by getting ready for bed one to two hours before you intend to fall asleep. This will help you wind down. Also, research has shown that every hour of sleep you get prior to midnight has twice as many restorative properties as the hours after midnight. You can also try to have a brain dump prior to sleeping so your mind can be free of any thoughts, worries, or remembering your to-dos. 

Although you may already know this, check your use of electronics before getting ready for sleep. Try and limit the use of technology at least a few hours before sleeping to allow your mind and body to wind down. I know this can be challenging, but it’s incredibly important. A few other things you can do are to avoid stimulants like caffeine or alcohol shortly before sleep, make your room as dark as possible by using blackout curtains, and create a cool and quiet environment. With these few changes, you will likely fall asleep a little easier, and you won’t wake up exhausted and cranky.

3. Get That Body Moving and Shaking

In addition to good sleep hygiene, getting regular movement is pivotal in improving moods. I’m not talking about hardcore workout routines or pushing yourself to do some extreme form of activity you don’t enjoy. Movement that motivates you, can make you mentally healthier and improve your mood exponentially.

Maybe you’d like to start your day dancing to motivating music, stretching, or taking a walk. Try mixing it up, getting movement while getting social contact. You can take the walk with a friend and make it a regular date. Or you might enjoy trying out a new fitness group where you can meet new people or get a family workout, which can help keep your family healthy while supporting your personal goals. Whatever you choose, make movement a priority and get that body a-movin’ and a shakin’!

4. Fill Your Life with Gratitude to Decrease Anxiety and Improve Happiness

Time and time again, research has shown that focusing on the blessings in your life and what is going right, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, brings greater happiness. It’s not about overlooking your difficulties and putting your head in the sand. You can honor what’s hard and find those things in your life you can appreciate. No matter how difficult or challenging things might feel right now, there are always things to be grateful for. It might be people in your life who are loving and supportive, a decent job, a roof over your head, your pets, or simply a warm cup of coffee every morning.

Start with writing 5-10 things you are grateful for in your journal upon waking up. You can also reflect on the things that went well in your day prior to sleep. I have gratitude for sleep meditation you are welcome to use for this purpose. There are many gratitude rituals you can engage in. Whichever gratitude practice you choose, try turning it into a daily and notice the changes you experience in your life.

5. Make Self-Nourishing a Priority

Self-care is often misunderstood. It is much more than people realize and can be much deeper than what it is marketed to be. To put it simply, your self-care or self-nourishment routine is something you do for yourself, based on what truly nourishes you. It can be something you do alone or with friends. There are no rules about self-care, as long as it truly supports your well-being and is something that you genuinely enjoy. If you desire to improve how you nourish yourself, start by exploring activities to discover what relaxes you, and makes you happy.

Here are a few ideas if you’re not sure where to start. Rather than going out to get a pedicure or facial, get together with a friend or loved one and make your own facial masks or paint your nails. You can even do a sleepover! Or keep it simple and take a nap, soak in a bath, read a book or watch your favorite show.  If you have been wanting to get more creative, try starting an art project, or another creative endeavor. Again, being social is good for the soul, and if your soul is nourished by time with loved ones, you can reach out and make time with someone you care about, taking them out for a coffee or to see music. These are just a few ideas to get you started!

6. Simplify and Cleanse Your Space

Clearing and organizing your space can definitely help with mood stabilization! Do you love the feeling of coming home to a clean home? For some, it just makes you feel better? Having a decluttered and clean home makes all the difference. Not only can it make you feel happier, but it can also encourage a healthier and more productive lifestyle.

So, try to spend just a few minutes a day picking up your home, one area at a time. Refrain from trying to do too much all at once or guilting yourself if you don’t reach all your goals. Simply commit to tidying it as much as you can, even if you have a busy schedule. And reward yourself. Gold stars aren’t only for kids!

7. Set Clear and Healthy Boundaries

It may feel surprising to see boundaries on this list. The truth is that setting boundaries is probably one of the best ways you can boost your mood naturally. If you feel that people are needing things from you all the time and feel under constant pressure, then it might be time to set boundaries. Often, we think that we only need to set boundaries with toxic people, but even loving people can ask more from you than you have the capacity to give. You may not even realize how over-giving is negatively affecting your mood. Especially if you have played this giver role since childhood. Doing for others at the expense of your well-being may feel normal and natural.

First, identify where you may need to set boundaries and with whom. Allow yourself permission to say no. It is okay to not always be the one person people can count on. It is even okay to turn down an invitation. You can start by letting others know you won’t be as available and that you will be taking more time for yourself. The people that love you will understand your need for boundaries, just as you respect their boundaries. If you get pushback, do your best to stay committed to holding your boundaries. You can seek support from a professional if you feel this is an area of your life you particularly struggle with.

8. Get Out in Nature and Play

 Not only do play and nature improve your mood, but they have numerous other benefits. Fresh air and vitamin D will both greatly benefit your mood and energy levels. If you work indoors, you, like many people, may not be getting enough vitamin D in your diet. If you are able to get out during the day, you are better able to get vitamin D naturally from the sun’s UV rays. So keep it simple, and figure out how you can spend a little more time outside, whether you are going on walks and hiking, sitting outdoors with a cup of coffee or tea, or exploring outdoor activities.

Likewise, having fun helps release endorphins in the body, which supports nervous system regulation, resulting in pain relief and an overall sense of well-being. Playing with family and friends can also help bring you more into the moment, release stress and lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety. You can even make a game out of getting the to-do list done and involve your family or partner.  Not only does playfulness feel sooo good, but it also helps to foster intimacy with others. So, give yourself permission to prioritize play, creative expressions, and time in nature!

In a world where external factors, such as negative news poured out on a daily basis, seem overwhelming, it may seem hard to sustain a positive feeling. But with these shifts in daily habits, you can overcome external factors and have command over your happiness meter. So, put your focus on what you can control and how you can influence your beautiful body, mind, and spirit. You got this!

If you’d like to explore more ways to improve your moods and have more joy in your life, I encourage you to sign up for a discovery session today!