Less daylight and more time spent indoors leave up to 66 percent of us feeling blah. Luckily, you can lift your spirits in minutes! Remember that any feelings you have are valid, and typically pass if you’re able to tolerate them. Here are a few mood-boosting hacks to do just that.
If you’re stressed, braid yarn.
Remember how enjoyable braiding your doll’s hair was as a kid? Even now, the simple act of braiding ribbon, yarn or twist-ties — whatever’s handy! — cuts stress by up to 59 percent in less than five minutes, Drexel University scientists say. Braiding requires the mind and body to work together, which redirects thoughts away from stressors.
If you’re bored, imagine a sleepy cat.
To nix “cabin fever,” think of a yawning cat. Chances are, this image will trigger you to yawn too. And surprisingly, Austrian research in Physiology & Behavior suggests giving into a yawn is one of the quickest ways to chase away boredom. Yawning acts like an air vent that resets the temperature of your brain, awakening your mind and snapping the beauty of the wider world around you back into focus.
If you’re anxious, mist a fern.
When worries are swirling, give your houseplant a sprinkle of water and notice how your anxiety fades almost instantly. Spanish scientists say for 74 percent of us, this tiny interaction with nature is all it takes to calm the central nervous system and send negative emotions packing. The payoff: Michigan State University research suggests a few minutes caring for a plant noticeably lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
If you’re blue, sniff a lemon.
When life gives you lemons, sniff one! Japanese research found that a compound (linalool) in this fruit’s skin stimulates the odor-sensitive glands in your nose, which dispatch mood-boosting signals to your brain. This erases the blues as effectively as antidepressants, but without the side effects.
If you’re anxious, drink this cure-all tea.
Our final mood-boosting hack comes in the form of a nice warm cuppa. Whether you’re nervous, on edge or a little down, sip a cup of chamomile tea and you’ll feel 50 percent better, suggests University of Pennsylvania research. Botanical compounds in the brew increase the production of feel-good brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, which will lift your spirits.
These are not all guaranteed to make your worries or blues disappear, and as always, talk to your doctor if you are feeling as though you might need a bit of extra help. However, these mood-boosting hacks are definitely worth a try. Who knows? You might be feeling better after two or three!
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.