Since I am embarking on my very own Happiness Project this year, I thought I would share some simple tips for improving your mood. The January Blues are rife at the moment; it’s so easy to get lost in a grey fog of dark mornings, grey days and a distinct lack of anything good on the horizon. We all tend to get that sort of low-level “meh” where we’re not really depressed, just not quite happy. Here are some ways to move your mood in the right direction:
1. Sing Like Nobody is Listening
This month I challenged myself to sing with S every day. We’re a couple of weeks into the month now, and it’s going really well. Singing with S calms my mood, even if I’ve had a really stressful day. If you don’t have a toddler to sing nursery rhymes with, put the radio on and sing along to some of your favourite tunes.
2. Fake it Til You Feel it
This one sounds really asinine, but it works. Pretending you’re happy and smiling a lot can mean you start to feel more chirpy. In fact – and I am aware this sounds daft – if you put a pencil in your mouth sideways so that the corners of your mouth are forced outwards, like a smile, you will find that you are more inclined to find things amusing.
3. Do Something Constructive
Everyone has at least one item on their “To-Do” list that has been there for ages. It’s probably not even a particularly difficult or time consuming job, just something we’ve gotten into the habit of putting off. If you can do something that’s been hanging around waiting to be done for ages, you’ll instantly feel pleased with yourself, and more positive about the other entries on your list.
4. Ignore What Others Do Unless it Affects You Directly
We all do it. You look at someone else’s blog and rage because it’s prettier than yours. You get cross because your neighbour has put up a new trellis in his garden, or because your friend didn’t take the advice you offered. None of it directly affects your life; it makes no difference what these people do, but you look any way, and get your knickers in an unnecessary twist about it. Try not looking into your neighbour’s garden. Don’t look at the blog that makes you feel like yours is ugly. Stop giving advice to the friend who we all know won’t take it any way. Take a deep breath and say to yourself “how nice for them,” then move on.
Yeah, I know. But we all know it works, ok? If you’re not up for a Boot Camp session in a freezing park, a brisk walk will do, preferably somewhere with a bit of greenery to look at.
6. Get a Really Early Night
Sleep is good for you. I don’t know about you, but every morning when the alarm goes off, I think “urgh, I’m having an early night tonight!” And then the evening comes around, and it’s all “just one more episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix…” Switch everything off. Do what you absolutely cannot put off until tomorrow, and go to bed. There are few pleasures more simple than waking up after a really good sleep!
7. Have a Coffee With a Friend
I work from home, which means it’s relatively easy for me to go a whole week without speaking to anyone but S’s keyworker at nursery. On those days where I make a concerted effort to chat to a friend, I feel so much better about everything. Social interaction can play a massive part in brightening our moods – so you’ll be doing your friend a favour too by suggesting a coffee date!
8. Help Someone
I’m a massive fan of random acts of kindness; they make you feel so good! You don’t have to quit your job and become a charity worker in Africa to feel the benefit of helping others though. Simple things like holding a door for someone or helping someone with their shopping on the bus can instantly make you feel a bit better about life. Especially if they say thank you!
I love this one. If I’m having a “meh” sort of a day, I like to look at estate agent websites, and choose myself a new home in a new area. Or perhaps I’ll look at other sites, and choose myself an exotic holiday and imagine all the fun activities I’ll get up to. Studies show it actually can make you feel better – even if it’s just a daydream and you’re not actually planning to move house or book a holiday. It’s fun to daydream about a different life sometimes.
Additionally, another great way to escape the January blues is to simply get online and do something you enjoy. Personally, iv’e heard many people say that enjoying a game of online bingo is a great way to take your mind off things, and several people have recommended www.boomtownbingo.com as the go to site
This is more of a long term thing, but it can have instant results. You don’t need to go to classes or pay for expensive books or CDs; you don’t even need to sit cross legged on the floor chanting “Ommmmmmm.” All you need is a few spare minutes, somewhere quiet. The trick with meditating is to quietly notice what your brain is doing; observe where your thoughts wander to, and then bring your attention back to your breathing (or a mantra, if you have one).