As we get older, more and more things can bring us down bad day at work – mid-life crisis, daily dose of stress, anxiety, etc. Knowing how to cope with a series of bad days can be very beneficial to our health, and help us improve the way we interact with people in general. If we neglect to address these problems adequately, they won’t go anywhere, and will only accumulate, making our days seem even gloomier. Here are some good suggestions on how to cheer yourself up, all of them backed up by plenty of scientific research.
More physical exercise
You probably hear this one all the time, so the suggestion may seem like a cliché, but let us go over why it is so important, and how to tackle this issue. First of all, it is unnatural to spend the majority of our day sitting and being inactive. However, it is usually the nature of our jobs that requires us to do so, and as a result, we experience various side-effects.
Our body needs significantly less energy, so it produces significantly less energy, our metabolism slows down, and our muscles grow weaker. Because of this general lack of activity, even mundane tasks become more arduous and exhausting.
The best way to address this problem is either to work out at the gym, or to do some light exercises, e.g. yoga, on a daily basis. Our muscles need a good stretch in order to improve the blood flow and they need to work hard, so that our body can start burning more calories to produce more energy. When we are less tired, we are also less stressed and our overall mood will gradually improve. The problem is, we usually tell ourselves how we lack the time to go and exercise, yet there are ways to work around this.
Stand up more often (every 15 minutes) and have a good stretch, and you should also drink more water while you are at the office. Staying well hydrated throughout the day will be good for your body and you’ll stand up even more often to go to the bathroom. Furthermore, you should try walking or riding a bicycle to and back from work. As you gradually increase the amount of physical activity that you engage in on a daily basis, going to the gym to work out will seem much less bothersome.
Once you start working out regularly you’ll feel much better, both physically and mentally, because you’ll know that you have invested your time and effort into something productive and beneficial for your health. You’ll look better, so your confidence will increase, which will also cheer you up. Lastly, it will be easier for you to fall asleep, which is important for a number of reasons.
Ironically, it is our stress and depression that very often prevent us from falling asleep, and stand in the way of having a healthy sleep cycle. The truth is, sleep has significant impact on how we feel. While we are awake our stress transmitting neurons are more active, and as a result, we feel more stressed. While we sleep this activity is greatly reduced, and our brain has time to filter out these negative signals. Basically, sleep is how our brain heals, and we become more focused once we are rested.
As mentioned, despite the fact that our emotional state can be improved with sleep, it is very often the case that our emotions are the very thing that is preventing us from getting some shut eye. Physical exercise can exhaust our bodies and help us fall asleep more easily. Additionally, you can use various techniques to help you fall asleep as well.
First, you need to reduce the number of hours you spend in front of your computer. The light that radiates from the screen is hindering the production of melatonin, which regulates your sleep patterns. You can also eat lighter snacks at least 2 hours before going to bed, and take a hot shower to help your body relax. There are numerous other techniques to help you fall asleep, you just need to find the one that works for you and get more sleep, so that your brain can rest and recover. Waking up early is an option more and more people resort to, for numerous reasons.
Plan your vacation
We all know how going to an exotic destination and having some time off work can do wonders for our mood. However, did you know that merely planning your vacation can cheer you up too? It is true, there was actually a study, which was published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, and it revealed that the biggest boost to happiness actually comes from planning the trip. Ironically, people who come back from a vacation do not share the same level of happiness and enthusiasm as those who are about to go on a vacation.
It is common sense when you think about it actually, considering that the excitement is over and the very fact that you are back at work brings you down. The vacation itself also makes you happy, but the highest you get the highest dopamine release from all the anticipation. In other words, whenever you don’t know how to get your mind off things, start planning your vacation, and you’ll be in a good mood for the rest of the day.
Get a pet
One cure for just about any heartache is unconditional love, and guess what, dogs have lots of it, as long as you treat them well. If you by any chance feel underappreciated, and want to have someone near who will always be happy to see you return home, you cannot go wrong with pets. However, this advice does not apply to everyone. If you have allergies, or to be precise, if you are allergic to cats, dogs or any other animal, these animals won’t make you feel very well when you are around them.
It is also worth mentioning that you won’t feel better if you do not like animals very much. For example, if you are indifferent to cats and dogs, but really enjoy reading books, or watching a good movie, or playing a video game, pets won’t bring you much joy. On the contrary, you’ll only see them as an additional responsibility that prevents you from doing what you really like, so make sure you are ready for a pet before you bring one into your home.
During the 80’s and 90’s there was some research suggesting that being a pet owner is good for one’s well-being, however, things change. With all the new forms of entertainment, people got bored and did not find it really amusing to spend time with their pets. Those who love animals on the other hand, never really kept them solely for amusement, thus those pet owners were more engaged in raising their animals, spent more time with them, and were more physically active, which reflected positively on their mood.
Spend more time with your loved ones
People are social beings, we love to know that we belong to a group, and we love when we are praised by our peers. Since this is the case, spending time with those we hold dear has a very therapeutic effect on our psyche. Spending time with your friends also gives you the opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane, and remember all the happy moments you shared together. Although this does not solve your problems, it helps convince you that your life is not empty, that you have a history, you have the bonds that you’ve built, and you have things that matter. Even if you spend most of the time helping the people you love, you will be helping yourself in the process, by reassuring yourself that you are good person who people respect.
Anger, sadness or stress in general are all emotions that can be channelled into something productive, or they can be temporarily purged from our body. All you need is a medium or a hobby that resonates with who you are. You can listen to music, read a book, watch a sports match or play a video game. Basically anything that grabs your attention and allows you to vent that built up stress.
For example, during a football game it is completely natural to be driven by emotion and vividly articulate your happiness, or discontent with the performance of a certain team. Of course, there is a side-effect to this, since being too emotionally invested in the performance of a certain team can actually become a source stress rather than a solution. In other words, practice moderation.
Video games are also a potent tool for channelling negative emotions. There is a common misconception that video games make an individual more violent, but the reality is that stressed or angry people opt for violent games to vent. Again, much like with sports games, begin devoted to this type of escapism can have negative effects, since one can easily forget to deal with real-life problems.
Probably the best thing you can do to cheer up and become more motivated is to read books, or better yet, to start writing yourself. You’d be surprised just how focused and invested you can be when you are trying to find the right words to express yourself. Furthermore, this is an intellectual self-investment, and you’ll feel good about yourself, knowing that you have been working on developing an important skill.
Mini tasks and assignments for self-improvement
A perfect way to feel good is to have a sense of achievement, so when you don’t know how to cheer up, introduce a bit of retrospect in your life. Start your self-evaluation and determine which areas of your life need minor tweaking or improvement. Even cleaning the house can improve how your feel, and getting rid of a bad habit is also very therapeutic. Basically, find all the minor tasks you finish quickly and start working on those.
It can be fixing a tap, or painting your room, or even changing the tiles in your bathroom. The bigger the task the greater the satisfaction. You can even start working on a new self-project, like becoming a blogger and getting more engaged in the online community that shares the same passion for a niche you are interested in. In other words, you should focus on things you have the power to change, so that you won’t feel powerless, considering how the majority of our stress comes from the problems we can’t do anything about.
Work on your confidence
Finally, you need to work on your confidence, or better yet work on your fears and step out of your comfort zone by taking on new challenges. If you want to feel empowered, you need do something daring, like go bungee jumping or skydiving. Sure, the examples might be too extreme, but you get the point. Do something you were afraid to do up till now, and even if you fail, you’ll feel a bit better about yourself. This is a positive type of failure, as it allows us to learn and grow. You can do something demanding like climbing a mountain peak, or improving your looks by working out.
You can travel to an exotic location, gain insight into a new culture and its history. Learning and experiencing something new is another form of empowerment. Remember to spend more time visualising your success, and remember to keep going, even if things do not turn out as you originally planned. All of these things can boost your confidence incredibly, and with more confidence and a purpose you are less likely to feel depressed.
I hope you find these suggestions useful, and that they will help you whenever you feel defeated in life. Always remember that whether times are good or bad, things change, and that being passive is the worst thing you can do when you are feeling down.