1. Go outside
Being outside is one of the best ways to boost your happiness. It’s particularly good if you can head somewhere where you’re surrounded by green space (staying in a concrete jungle doesn’t seem to help). A review of 25 studies found that being outdoors reduced negative emotions such as anger and sadness. And exercising in green space improved mental health even more, even if it was just gentle exercise such as walking.
Getting enough sunshine is also great. While you don’t want to spend too long in the sun, sunshine is needed for your body to produce Vitamin D. The Australian National Health Survey found that 1 in 4 Australians was deficient in Vitamin D. In winter in the ACT, it’s as high as 1 in 2. Vitamin D is important for strong and healthy bones. It looks like it might also be important for mental health although at this stage, it’s not clear why this association exists.
Five minutes outside in the sunshine right now is likely to lift your mood.
2. Connect with a friend
I’m a born introvert. I really struggle to connect with people in person. Hiding behind my computer feels very safe – but it doesn’t build that connection that I most desperately need.
Social connection is one of our fundamental human needs. It promotes both physical and mental health. It also increases your chances of living to an old age. Connecting with others can feel really challenging when you’re already feel a bit down. You don’t need to connect with a whole crowd – in fact, the benefits of social connection come from the intimacy that it brings. So turn off your phone, close your laptop and catch up with a friend for a cup of tea.
I have to admit that Robbie and I often sit on the couch in the evening both using laptops while also half watching TV. Although we’re sitting together, there’s no connection there. We have just started going for walks together. It’s amazing what it is doing for our relationship and our sense of connection.
Take a few minutes today to connect socially with a friend or work colleague. It’s best to connect in person, but, if that’s not possible, give someone a call. In this age of Facebook and email, it’s easy to forget about the power of connecting face-to-face or over the phone.
Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your mood and relieve stress. Whether it’s yoga, running, walking, riding a bike or dancing, take some time to exercise today.
When you exercise your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural morphine. They trigger a positive feeling in your body and can leave your feeling euphoric. Runners talk about the “runner’s high” – this is a rush of endorphins. It can leave you with a positive outlook on life.
Yoga provides both exercise and relaxation. It’s a perfect balance. You get the endorphin release and you also get to switch off your stress response. You feel calmer & happier and sleep better.
And if you want to do all three in one go, go for a walk outside with a friend (and then come in for some yoga)!