As the song goes, ‘if you’re happy and you know, it clap your hands’. But what do you do if you’re not? It’s hard to stay happy every day, just about everyone feels down from time to time. Research suggests that one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year including anxiety and depression.
We can be so busy balancing work and life that it can be hard to focus on our own wellbeing. But there are plenty of mood-boosting strategies out there that you can fit into your day and have you feeling a whole lot better. Check out these tips to help the clouds pass:
1. Switch up your diet
Convenience food may save you time in the evening, but do you really know what goes into your TV dinner? Find time to cook dinner with fresh ingredients from scratch and you will feel the benefit. By choosing fresh ingredients you are avoiding the additives and preservatives that make ready meals bad for you. Research by the British Journal of Psychiatry found that people who reported eating a diet rich in whole foods including fruit and vegetables were less likely to report feeling depressed than those who ate lots of processed and fried foods. You can even throw in a cheeky bit of chocolate to your diet thanks to its stress reducing properties.
2. Be kind and reap the karma
Random acts of kindness are the key to being happy according to research conducted by the University of Leicester. Not only will being nice lift your mood, but it will also boost your immune system, reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen self-control, and support healthy proactive behaviours such as exercise, eating well, and getting regular check-ups. Further research even indicates that the benefits of being nice to those around you are reciprocal, meaning that the person who is giving, the person who is receiving, and even the people who are witnessing the act of kindness all benefit. Not bad for just showing a little bit of compassion and empathy once in a while.
3. Jump around
Regular exercise is important for a lot of reasons. As a nation we can be a little lax when it comes to being as healthy as we possibly could be. There are currently 2.3 million people living with coronary heart disease in the UK brought on by a variety of factors including high cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Not only are conditions like this preventable through diet and gentle exercise, but physical activity can help maintain and improve wellbeing. Scientists believe that being active can help improve your mood because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem and the ability to rise to a challenge.
4. Stay connected
Depression isn’t contagious but an upbeat mood is, according to scientists. A study by researchers at the universities of Manchester and Warwick found that having mentally stable, happy friends helped to improve the mood of those who were depressed. People who have an upbeat, positive, and energetic outlook tend to associate with each other, so finding new friends will quickly bring about a happier outlook and enhance your focus. Get yourself out there, invest time in your hobbies and you’ll soon find like-minded people who you enjoy spending time with.