Having a down day? Too much stress? Let these 5 simple mood-enhancing activities brighten your day.
1. Twist and bend
Exercise is known to release happy hormones, called endorphins. Even though our daily routine should include a regular exercise regime, what’s more important is that it includes regular movement. We may not make it to the gym every day.
Movements that include twists and bends, especially ones that put pressure on the pelvic area (think squats) can re-energize us and put us in a better mood. Why?
Our brain and gut are connected. Our mood is better when our gut is healthy. Partly because about 90% of serotonin, a “happiness hormone”, is produced in our gut. And partly because, when our digestion is healthy, foods can efficiently flow through and leave our body. When they don’t, the undigested or improperly digested particles camp out inside, accumulate and produce toxins. And toxins affect us beyond the physical dimension–they disturb our thoughts and emotions. And it is for this reason that Ayurveda recommends working on the digestion in addition to the mind with people with mood imbalances.
Twists and bends (forward bends in particular) help move things along in the digestive tract, and are easy to do even at your desk. Poses and movements that put pressure on the pelvic area, such as squats, help with elimination, which is critical for digestive health.
2. Use triggers
Positive energy gives us a mood boost. One of the most basic methods for a quick reset is a “happy trigger”. Wendy in Peter Pan calls it “happy thoughts”, but it can be a word, image or a song that instantly puts a smile on your face.
During my time in post-earthquake Nepal, the lady of our guesthouse–who also became our home-away-from-home yoga teacher–concluded our morning yoga practice one day with a session of purpose-free and heart-filling laughter. It went on for a few minutes. It was really weird at first but try it, it will feel good.
Not ready for a full-blown laughing session yet? Try smiling in the mirror. Just turning your frown upside down will turn around your mood.
4. Hug somebody
“Everybody oughta hug somebody, at least once a day.” True! An instant mood changer. We did a social experiment in Ayurveda school when we were learning pulse reading. We took each other’s pulse before hugging and repeated the reading after the embrace. Our post-hug pulses were fuller, deeper and more stable…and we were all smiling from ear to ear.
5. Do something good
Whether or not we are aware or accepting of this, we are all connected to each other. One person’s happy mood can be contagious. Doing something good or performing a random act of kindness for another person will bring joy to the recipient. This will not only make you feel better, but you will also add some brownie points to your “good karma” account.
While these activities offer temporary relief, it is important to understand the severity, duration and frequency of any mood imbalance. According to Ayurveda, treatment of any kind of imbalance starts with identifying and addressing the root cause, which may call for professional support. You don’t have to go it alone.Today I choose to be in a happy mood. Click To Tweet
Image by Artem Beliaikin, Pexels