There’s so much more to do in a holiday month and yet so little time to get it done. If you’re experiencing a transient foul mood, here are 10 ways to calm that inner stress in five minutes or less!
- Laugh even when you feel like smacking someone.
Is your mood so foul that absolutely nothing is funny to you? Watch one penguin slap another penguin. It doesn’t matter whether the laugh is caused by something funny or something, well, sort of funny in a not-so-funny way – simply laughing will elevate a mood and leave you feeling more like your kinder, gentler self.
- Envelope yourself in a cozy wrap for a few minutes.
Scientists explain it this way: “Physical touch experiences may create an ontological scaffold for the development of interpersonal and intrapersonal conceptual and metaphorical knowledge, as well as a springboard for the application of this knowledge.” In other words, touching soft things feels good and makes us feel better.
- Play your favorite song.
Your favorite tunes cause a spike in dopamine release, neuroscientists have discovered, and the result is that good music lowers your blood pressure. So “friend, put your records on, tell me your favorite song, and you go ahead, let your hair down.” It almost immediately makes you feel better.
- Speed read.
No kidding, grab a book and go! Studies show that speeding up your thought processes is comparable to exercising your body; it’s a quick way – you only need do it three minutes or so – to rev up your head engine and get into a better, more efficient gear.
- Remember a happy time.
On cold days, nostalgic memories can actually make you feel warmer, social scientists have found, and what memories of better days can do for the body, they also can do to that down-in-the-dumps mood you’re flirting with. Pair it with a favorite tune that has strong ties to past good times and you can often hum that bad mood away.
- Enjoy someone else’s happiness.
Researchers have found that experimental subjects actually “catch” positive emotions from others, and even if you only watch someone who is obviously very happy on social media, you’ll feel happier, too.
- Have a cuppa jo.
The boost that caffeine lends to alertness is similar to the jumpstart it can give your mood, too. Several studies have found a connection between your cup of coffee and a more positive outlook within minutes of your first sip.
- Hug a tree.
The stress hormone cortisol drops when you trade an urban (or office) setting for the beauty of a forest – or even for one tree. Snowing outside? Think botanical gardens! “Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy,” one group of researchers noticed, and even viewing photographs of grand, beautiful trees can help alleviate stress.
- Dance it off.
Close the door, put on your headphones, and get your groove on, Stella. Even five minutes, researchers have found, can upgrade your status from grouchy to merry, particularly if you just let go and feel the music throughout your body.
- Stop the world for five minutes to declutter.
Regardless where you work, chances are good there’s an area that could benefit from a quick de-clutter. Psychologists suggest tackling a small project; you’ll be surprised how quickly organizing even a physical space will clean up your foul mood, too. You’ll feel instantly calmer, and reap the benefits for hours.
If you work your way through the list and find your blues persist, you may need more than a quick fix; in that case, you might need to vent to a friend or lean on a shoulder or consider more help. But for routine and explainable bumps in the road, these tips should get you up and on your way.