As much as it’s lovely to cozy up when the wind is blowing outside, surveys show that 75 percent of us are feeling the strain of cabin fever.
″We’re spending more time indoors due to cold weather and covid-19 concerns, and that’s making us sleepy and blue,″ says Norman Rosenthal, MD, author of Super Mind (Buy on Amazon, $17). Here are four ways restore your smile!
Take in morning sun.
You don’t need to go outside to get the mood-boosting benefits of the great outdoors. Canadian scientists say spending 40 minutes each morning within 6 feet of a bright window — whether you’re eating breakfast, catching up on emails, or scrolling through funny Facebook posts — helps you feel 65 percent happier, calmer, and more alert all day. Turns out an early-day blast of light switches on the brain genes that make energizing, mood-boosting serotonin.
Pull out Grandma’s china.
There’s a reason why admiring sentimental mementos makes you feel joyful and reinvigorated. Treasures that remind you of happy memories, like the china teacups or casserole dishes passed down through generations, kick-start the production of oxytocin. This focus-boosting brain chemical makes you 33 percent more clear headed and cheery in just 60 seconds, say British scientists.
Reach for the stars.
Gently stretching your spine and back muscles for 1 minute ups your mood by 65 percent for an hour, say University of Bridgeport scientists. Explains Mo Lee, MD, loosening up the muscles that support the spine releases feel-good endorphins. To do: Interlace your fingers, turn your palms toward the ceiling and stretch upwards for 15 seconds. Next, stretch your arms to your right for 15 seconds, then repeat to your left. Finish by reaching toward the floor for 15 seconds.
Enjoy a chocolate treat.
If you find yourself craving a fudgy brownie or chocolate bar when you’re experiencing irritability and cabin fever, give in to that temptation. University of Arizona scientists say a sweet treat really can make you feel better, lifting your mood and energy by up to 50 percent for 2 hours. Credit goes to a compound found in cocoa called phenylethylamine, which prods happiness hormones.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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