By Christi Pelt
As the days get shorter, you may find your mood dropping faster than the leaves from the trees.
But you don’t need to wait until the winter blues have you in their clutches to take positive steps to lift your spirit. In fact, 40 percent of your happiness is believed to be controlled by your thoughts, actions, and behaviors, with a mere 10 percent being determined by your circumstances. 50 percent is thought to be genetic. Even so, that whopping 40 percent gives us all a lot of happiness wiggle room.
Here are some mood boosting ways to rise above circumstances and genetics:
“I just like to smile; smiling’s my favorite.” ~ Buddy the Elf
Did you know smiling/happiness create a regular chicken/egg paradigm? It’s true. You might as well ask yourself, “Which comes first, the smile or the happiness?”
Smiling releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in your body. Smiling also increases serotonin levels, a chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance.
“Procrastination is like a credit card. It’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” ~ Christopher Parker
When you’re feeling in a funk, checking things off your “To do” list may not be a top priority. Maybe it should be. Procrastination can prevent you from getting the most out of life. It’s a vicious cycle. You feel sad and unmotivated so you ignore things which need to be done. The tasks pile up, causing you to feel overwhelmed and sadder than ever.
Instead of feeling you need to tackle everything at once, try this: Look around you and begin working on tasks which can be completed in three minutes or less. That’s plenty of time to pay a bill, shred some junk mail, or clean a bathtub. If a more daunting chore awaits you, try breaking it into more manageable chunks. You can set the goal of completing ten tasks in a half hour.
Let there be light!
“A day without sunshine is, you know, night.” ~ Steve Martin
If possible, get outside and take a walk. Your body needs the vitamin D from sunshine. Walking is a mood booster, too. At a bare minimum, open the blinds, turn on some lights, and consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
Think of others.
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
The universe called and you’re not at its center! Spend some time volunteering. 94 percent of volunteers surveyed said volunteering improves their mood. Volunteering distracts you from your own problems and helps you be more appreciative of what you have. It is even linked to an improvement of physical health. Get out there and enjoy that “helper’s high.”
Clear the clutter.
“Housekeeping ain’t no joke.” ~ Louisa May Alcott
Clutter can be oppressive. Don’t feel as if you must go on a month long decluttering spree to feel a difference. Start small. Clean out one drawer. Work on clearing your email inbox. Get rid of your partnerless socks.
Pick up a book.
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” ~ Groucho Marx
People who read a minimum of a half hour per week are 20 percent more likely to report greater life satisfaction. Reading for a mere six minutes is said to reduce stress levels. Readers also experience better sleep and lower rates of depression.
Eat a healthy diet.
“I treat my body like a temple. A temple of doom, but a temple nonetheless.” ~ Jim Gaffigan
Stop treating your body like a temple of doom and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Studies have shown people eating a highly processed Western diet are more likely to be depressed, while a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients increases your sense of well-being.