Kick the winter blues with 22 mood boosters that only take 60 seconds

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BLUE Monday is considered the most depressing day of the year, and as Mondays go, it’s pretty bleak. 

Many of us are struggling with the cold days and long nights and the news is pretty doom and gloom too. 

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Giving someone a bear hug will make your mood shoot upCredit: Getty

So, you’d be well within your rights to be feeling down, but there are plenty of ways to become a little more upbeat. 

Give some of these mood boosters a try – the best thing is, they all take no more than 60 seconds!

1. ENJOY A HUG

“Never underestimate the power of a hug,” says Dr Andre Brittain-Dissont, Aesthetic and Longevity Physician.  

“I mean a good lengthy bear hug, longer than seems civilised and close enough to feel someone else’s heartbeat.

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“It’s a primitive mood lifter. Just make sure it’s with someone that is likely to hug you back!”

2. TOUCH YOURSELF

It’s not what you think; according to Meg James, Meditation & Mindfulness Teacher at Keep It Cleaner, placing your hand over your heart, cradling your face in your hands or gently massaging your arms releases oxytocin, the love hormone. 

She says: “This provides a quick boost of security and relief from distressing emotions.”

3. POP A PROBIOTIC

One of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing is care for your gut. Research has found the gut and brain are connected. 

Taking probiotics helps improve gut health as well as boost your mood and cognitive function.

Probiotic supplements contain friendly bacteria, needed for a happy tum.

Try: ProVen Probiotics 25 Billion (£15.95 www.provenprobiotics.co.uk)

4. WRITE A GRATITUDE LIST

There’s plenty to be grateful for, despite the current climate. Writing these things down can help switch our mindset. 

“This can increase our happiness levels and lift our mood, making us appreciate all the things we already have,” says Lisa Gunn, Nuffield Health’s Emotional Wellbeing Prevention Lead.

5. LAUGH OUT LOUD

Even if you’re not watching or doing anything funny, force yourself to laugh.

“The act of laughing and laughter increases dopamine and reduces the stress response in the body,” explains Lisa.

6. SPRITZ PERFUME

“Wearing perfume can do wonders for your mood,” says Barbara Santini, Psychologist at peachesandscreams.co.uk

The best scents for mood boosting? Try ones with citrus fruits, pine, ginger, or peppermint in them.

7. ENJOY A CUPPA 

It’s the plant compounds in tea that have a real physiological effect on our mood, according to dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Tea Advisory Panel.

“Caffeine and L-theanine work together in our brains to make us feel alert, focused and calm.

“L-theanine has been found to switch on and off particular areas of the brain, leading to feelings of relaxation. 

“Studies even show that stress hormones, such as cortisol, reduce if we drink tea before a stressful event,” she explains.

8. DOPAMINE DRESSING

Wearing an outfit that makes you feel positive can actually trigger a psychological boost, linked to the feel-good chemical dopamine.

Shakaila Forbes-Bell, Fashion Psychologist recommends brighter colours for improving mood. 

“We can attribute this to the Ecological Valence Theory; the idea that people generally associate colours with certain objects and therefore the feelings we have about those objects will be the same as their associated colour. 

“Clear skies and water are calming and are associated with blue ergo so we feel calm when we wear blue. 

“Sunshine and the yellow smiley face are associated with optimism, which is why people feel optimistic when wearing yellow.”

9. START A “DO LESS” LIST

Rather than stressing over the longer-than-your-arm list of resolutions, which let’s be honest, will likely be scrapped come February, try creating a ‘do less’ list.

“Instead of focusing on creating new habits, why not start by eliminating the ones which make you feel bad? 

“That might mean doing less overtime, spending less time on your phone, or even attempting to do less people pleasing,” says Chris Griffiths, founder of productivity app, ayoa.com.

10. LIGHT A CANDLE

“Smells experienced in nature improve wellbeing and mental health by making us feel more relaxed, joyful, and healthy. 

“Smells experienced in nature, like smelling the rain or damp grass on a wet day, or smelling smoke coming from a fire while camping, can improve our mental health,” says author and psychologist, Susie Pearl. 

Being out in nature can help, but for a quick boost, light a scented candle or incense stick; go for lavender, sandalwood, rosewood, chamomile and jasmine ones.

11. SHAKE IT

Stop what you’re doing, stand up and shake your body vigorously. 

“This helps regulate the nervous system. It also manages and relieves stress and it can also help to overcome cravings,” says Lisa Marley, head trainer at ProVeg UK.

12. TAKE A COLD SHOWER

“This will reduce inflammation, relieve pain and improve circulation,” says Lisa. 

Cold showers might not be so easy during winter, so start with ten seconds at the end of your normal shower, and build up to 60 seconds.

13. SPLASH COLD WATER

Cold shower out of the question? Psychotherapist Ella McCrystal says: “Dunking your face in cold water a few times can reset the vagus nerve, which is a major player in regulating stress. 

“It is the longest cranial nerve and is described as a ‘secret weapon’ in beating stress, sending messages of calm to our organs when in flight or fight mode.”

The vagus nerve runs from our brain right down to our abdomen and connects with multiple organs; resetting it can be a really good thing to regulate our sympathetic nervous system.

14. MAKE THE BED

If you’re prone to leaving the house with an unmade bed, you’re doing yourself no favours.

“It’s a proven fact that if you start the day by making your bed, you will feel more positive about life,” says Lisa.

15. MOVE FOR A MINUTE

“Exercise sparks the release of feel-good endorphins,” says Ella. 

“The more you exercise, the clearer your mind. Try skipping on the spot, doing jumping jacks or jogging on the spot for 60 seconds.”

16. ARRANGE FLOWERS

Caring for flowers has been shown to have a therapeutic effect.

Jade Robertson, floral designer at Prestige Flowers, says: “If you only have 60 seconds to spare, spend it arranging a bouquet of colourful flowers such as yellow roses.”

She adds: “Take a vase, fill it with fresh water and pop in some flower food. 

“Then take the flowers that will be your focal point, remove any leaves below the water line and trim the stems. Keep them a little longer. 

“Surround your focal flowers with filler flowers and foliage, removing lower leaves and trimming their stems a little shorter to give your bouquet a rounded appearance.”

17. PICK UP LITTER

“If you’re out and about, spend 60 seconds picking up litter,” says SUP yoga teacher, India Pearson.

“Not only will you be making a positive difference to your environment, you could also find it has a positive impact on your mental health too. 

“A study done by the 2 Minute Foundation found that 80 per cent of participants said that litter picking made them feel positive.”

18. BURN NEGATIVITY

What is happening in your life that makes you feel negative? Is it a person? A place? Or perhaps a work project is driving you crazy.

“Write on a piece of paper three things that are making you feel negative or you want to get rid of in your life. 

“Put the piece of paper in a fireproof bowl or dish and light it, in a safe environment),” says Andrea Marsh, MD of Deeper Connections – Mindset and Self Development Coach.

“When the paper has completely burnt away, take it outside and throw it up into the air! 

“Physically burning away negative thoughts can actually trigger a sense of emotional freedom from them.”

19. MAKE SOMEONE SMILE

“Text or call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while and let them know you are thinking about them,” advises Andrea. 

“Just wishing someone a good day and telling them they are in your thoughts will make them feel happy and in turn, your spirits will be lifted too.”

20. VISIT YOUR HAPPY PLACE

Not literally, but metaphorically. “We all have somewhere in our minds where we have been and it has created amazing memories that always make you feel good when you think about it,” explains Andrea.

Close your eyes, take three deep breaths and take yourself to that wonderful place. 

See it clearly in intimate detail. Hear the sounds. Are there any specific smells that are associated with this place? Try to bring that smell into your vision.

Don’t have a specific happy place? Andrea recommends creating one: “Use your imagination and visualise where and what your happy place would be.”

21. ONE MINUTE MEDITATION

“All you have to do is close your eyes and connect with your senses; feel the rising and falling of your breath, the connection between your body and the surfaces beneath you, and the temperature of the air against your skin,” recommends Meg. 

22. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING

Manage stress and boost your mood with yogic breathing. 

“Bring your right hand just in front of your face, rest your pointer finger and middle finger in between your brows. 

“Take a deep breath in through your nose and get your breath right the way down into your belly, and then breathe out,” says Meg.

“Next, using your right thumb, gently close your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril. 

“Then close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale slowly through your right nostril. 

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“Keeping your right nostril open, slowly inhale, then close it with your thumb. Open your left nostril and exhale slowly on that side.”

Finally, release your right hand and bring it back down to rest.

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