Even the most cheerful among us have bad days. Day-to-day stressors can mess with your mood (morning commute, we’re looking at you!), but getting back on track is easier than you think. Brant Secunda and Mark Allen, authors of Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to Healthier, Happier You gave us advice on how to feel better every day. Here they provide their top five happiness-boosting tips:
1. Get lit up
Set your alarm in time to get outside when it’s still dark. Watching the dawning light will brighten your mood naturally because sunlight triggers the production of serotonin, which makes us feel good. It also “resets” our circadian cycle so our body knows it’s time to perk up.
2. Get some green therapy
Dutch researchers recently found that people who live near a park or wooded area experience less depression and anxiety than their urban counterparts, and a recent study from the UK found that walking in the country reduced depression in 71 per cent of participants — so what are you waiting for? Get outside! We’ve got five fall fitness ideas that will get you moving outdoors.
3. Slow down
When we’re overwhelmed, our system gets flooded with the hormone cortisol, and calming hormone DHEA levels go down. Learning to slow down your reaction, smile, breathe, and take things one step at a time prevents the build-up of stress-producing cortisol, and keeps your hormones in balance.
4. Eat happy
An unbalanced diet, especially one with too many simple carbohydrates, causes stress in the body — and so does eating too little or too much. It disrupts your brain’s ability to produce the hormones responsible for keeping you happy.
- Avoid simple sugars.
- Choose carbohydrates that are from whole grains, fresh vegetables, and small amounts of fruit.
- Cut way back on caffeine.
- Add some healthy oils — like cold-pressed olive oil or omega 3 fish oil — to help balance your hormones.
- And eat a good breakfast within an hour of waking.
- Frequent small meals every three to four hours.
5. See the big picture
Deadlines, meetings, life changes — they can all cause your mood to nosedive. When that happens, think about something awe-inspiring: the last time you watched the sun go down, the never-ending crash of waves on the shore, the inevitable changing of the seasons. Seeing ourselves in the context of such large natural events makes our problems seem less all-consuming.