The foolproof mood-boosting plan
The foolproof mood-boosting plan is made up of seven simple ways to feel happier now. You can choose to feel happier with your lot in life without tons of money, a romantic partner, or any other things that might be on your wish list. Self-improvement is always a good idea but your life doesn’t need to be on help while you work to attain a fitter body, a bigger house, or the love of your life.
So here is the foolproof mood-boosting plan: seven areas that can make a huge difference to your mental state, the quality of your life and your mood.
I’m not always disciplined with my self-care but I try my best to do something for myself every day. Even if it’s something small such as putting moisturiser on in the mornings. Other forms of self-care include a healthy diet or doing exercise. I also need to keep up with daily treatments (nebulisers) for my health and find this hard to do some days. Self-care isn’t just about looking after your body and your appearance, it’s also about creating healthy boundaries for yourself and being assertive with others. In essence, self-care is about honouring and valuing yourself. Try to do something each day that achieves this. Looking after yourself is a great psychological mood-booster. I always feel better when I have spent some time getting my hair done or going for a massage. Asking for what I want (a form of assertiveness) also gives me a buzz. It’s easy to remain passive and not go after what we want but you are important and you deserve love and respect from others.
This is very easy to do and can be done anywhere, anytime. Instead of constantly focusing on your constant stream of worrying thoughts, mindfulness gives you a break from this. It takes your mind off the usual day-to-day stuff and places your focus in the here-and-now. It does wonders for peace of mind and stress levels.
Being in the present moment means that you are fully engaging your five senses on your surroundings. I spend at least half an hour a day being mindful. Listening to the birds singing and watching them on the bird feeder in the garden is one easy way to be mindful. Gardening, baking, doing puzzles or a paint-by-number 9I am currently doing one and it’s great fun) are all ways that you can practise mindfulness.
There is also the 5-4-3-2-1 method that can help if you are in an office, on the train or somewhere where it’s more difficult to practise mindfulness.
Look around you and find 5 things you can see
Find four things you could touch
Three things you can hear
Two things you can smell (if possible)
And one thing you like about yourself or one thing that you feel happy about.
Mindfulness is an effective way to ‘unhook’ from your thought and ‘reset’ your mind. It’s essential for healthy psychological functioning.
At the moment I am finding it hard to accept that we are in lockdown. It feels like limbo-land and I want to travel again and get stuck in with more work. A lot is on hold while lockdown is in place. Resisting the fact that lockdown is in place just stresses me out more. Letting go and accepting feels like a weight off my shoulders. If I find acceptance hard to do, I try to be more mindful and get ‘out of my head’ as much as possible as there is no point in fretting about things I can’t change. Each day I check whether I am resisting something that I have no control over and make an effort to let go of those things. Holding them in creates stress and tension – my body doesn’t need to be holding on to toxic emotions.
I love gratitude as it’s one of the fastest ways to improve my mood. It’s a definite mood-booster. When I focus on what is good/going well in my life, I immediately feel more relaxed and happy. I am grateful that it’s summer and I am enjoying living in the countryside with pheasants, swans, cows, and sheep nearby. I can often hear them mooing and baaing and it always makes me smile. It’s the simple things that seem to make me the happiest. Listening to good music, sharing a laugh with someone or engaging in an activity that fulfils me – whether that’s painting or spending time around animals.
Our default is to look for threat. This helped us survive in our caveman days but it is a hindrance in modern-day life. That’s why we often have to force gratitude upon ourselves to balance out our negative threat-focused thinking.
Interaction with others
You don’t have to socialise every day but isolating yourself for long periods of time can be detrimental to your mental wellbeing. If you are feeling depressed and tend to withdraw from others, you won’t be doing yourself any favours. I have been depressed and I know how hard it can be to see others when you feel like crap. I tend to want to stay at home and hide in bed. I have had days when brushing my teeth seemed like too much effort.
The thing is – the more you do the better you’ll feel. It can be a huge mental effort though to interrupt the inertia. Baby steps will get you there.
If you can’t get out of bed before noon, try reducing that by 15 minutes the next day. You don’t have to make massive changes. Small steps in the right direction can be all you need to boost your mood and get the momentum going. I have found when depressed, that if I forced myself to see someone or even skype someone (I still need to brush my hair and look slightly respectable), it made me feel a whole lot better afterward.
Being around others releases a feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. It’s nature’s way of encouraging us to be around others. We don’t generally need others to physically survive nowadays (as we did when we were neanderthals) but we are genetically built to be around others.
Life can be so serious. There’s a lot of shit going on – coronavirus, lockdown, debt, illness, taxes…I could go on. The moment you step back and lighten up a little, the less upsetting life can seem. I am not trying to minimise life’s problems but we can still choose how we wish to perceive our problems. A sense of humour has always helped me in life and I’d say it’s one of my best ‘tools’ for coping with life’s difficulties. Take time out from the seriousness of life for a bit of fun. It’s okay to be silly.
I once wore a fake beard and mustache to work. I probably looked ridiculous… (no, I am sure I looked ridiculous) but it made everyone laugh and started our day off well. All it took was one person to lighten the atmosphere and we breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Explore your thinking
It’s impossible to maintain a sense of contentment if your thinking is working against you. Being self-critical, obeying “musts” and “shoulds”, catastrophising, making assumptions about others (what they might think of you), comparing, blaming yourself, living life too rigidly (black and white thinking) and focusing constantly on the negatives will get you down.
It’s one of the first things I look at when dealing with clients. Therapists call them unhelpful thinking styles or errors in thinking. There is no direct evidence for these thoughts yet we buy into them regardless. When we focus on these thoughts and accept them as accurate they send our mood crashing down. Learning to be aware of your thoughts and understanding how they affect your emotions and subsequently your behavior, allows a useful awareness of our destructive cycles of thinking.
The foolproof mood-boosting plan contributes towards a happier existence. They shouldn’t be seen as yet another chore to add to your wellbeing calendar. Instead, they can act as guidelines and it’s relatively quick to check in and see whether you are covering the basics. For this I use the acronym: IMAGINE to help me remember.
I = ‘I” self-care
M = Mindfulness
A = Acceptance
G = Gratitude
I = Interaction
N = Nurture fun/playfulness
E = Explore thinking/thoughts
If it helps, you could start out using a worksheet to help log the different aspects. I have attached a copy of my own log sheet that I created in Word. (see below)
This foolproof mood-boosting plan has really been working for me since I started using it. When you include the seven basic elements, life will seem better. You don’t need to complete each one every day. The worksheet helped start me off but now I think through “IMAGINE” in my head and it has become more of a natural way of living. I hope you get as much benefit out of it as I have. 🙂