Daily Habits to Improve Your Mood.
Daily habits offer benefits to many areas of our lives.
Between the election, covid, and assessing plans for Thanksgiving and everything else, it can be a lot.
I am not going to get into the semantics of what you should and should not do, that is not my place to judge. I am simply going to say that we all need to understand that everyone has their own feelings and those should not be dismissed. Tune into what those around you may be struggling with and stick with the old adage…
The truth is that if we all lead with compassion, understanding, and kind words, we can get through anything.
We are responsible for how we treat others and for how we treat ourselves.
We are the one’s ultimately responsible for our own actions and reactions.
We are in charge of the daily habits that can help support us through difficult times and happy times. With that our mood is definitely affected by our own daily habits.
When people think of their mood, they often think of just being in a good mood or a bad mood. But the truth is, there is a lot in between these two extremes.
Stress management skills, daily habits, physical health, and so many other factors go into how you feel.
Your mood is not just good or bad but can include being stressed, anxious, fearful, relaxed and calm, tense, and agitated. It can also include other emotions.
If you feel like you don’t have balanced moods, or you are constantly one extreme or another, it might be time to take a look at your daily habits.
Your behaviors have such a large impact on your moods and how you feel.
What Causes Shifts in Your Mood?
One of the most surprising things about mood fluctuations is how many things in your everyday life, many of which you don’t always have control of, can change your mood. The more you understand about mood changes, the more you can decide what lifestyle changes will help the best with your mood-boosting rituals.
Some causes of shifts to your mood include:
Stress – Probably one of the most common causes is stress. This can be severe stress where you expect your mood to change, but also very mild forms of emotional stress that you didn’t realize had such a big impact on how you feel and behave overall.
Brain health – Many mental health disorders can lead to changes in your mood, including anxiety and depression. If you struggle with your mental health, you might already be aware of how drastically your mood can shift.
Sleep habits – Yes, how much and how well you sleep is going to affect your mood! We aren’t just talking about having a crappy night’s sleep and not feeling your best the next morning. This also includes just poor sleep hygiene habits that affect your mood the next day.
Diet & Nutrition – What you will see throughout this content is that what you eat can greatly impact how you feel. What you choose to eat the majority of the time does make a big difference in your mood.
Medical causes – Thyroid disorders, stroke, vitamin deficiency, and Parkinson’s might all be the cause of your mood changes.
So now… back to those daily habits!
This is one of those trending topics that people think are just popular right now and will be gone before we know it, but that isn’t true at all.
You have a morning routine now, whether you consciously realize it or not. You probably have certain tasks you like to get done shortly after waking up, such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, walking your dogs, or making breakfast for your kids.
We are not trying to invent the wheel with your morning routine, but instead, just add a few activities in your morning that will improve your day and your mood.
Morning Journaling Routine
One of the best activities you can do during your morning routine is to write in a journal. There are many ways this can help you, but one of my personal favorites is with a brain dump.
What is a brain dump?
This simply means you write whatever is on your mind, and keep writing until you feel like you have gotten through all those nagging thoughts. Your mood fluctuations might be from stress or just feeling overwhelmed. Your thoughts can do that without you even realizing it.
By doing this type of brain dump in the morning, you get those thoughts out on paper to help release some of the tension, but also gain a little more clarity.
You can do this in a simple notebook, a beautiful or fun journal, or even on your computer. However, I definitely prefer pen to paper as most people will find greater stress relief by actually physically writing out their thoughts.
This one is a favorite journal of mine:
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
The next most important thing you can do each day when you want to boost your mood naturally is to get better sleep. However, I am not just talking about how many hours you sleep, though that is definitely important.
I recommend focusing on proper sleep hygiene, which is simply the nighttime routine you have before you go to sleep.
Here are some things you can add to your daily sleep routine that will help you get more restful sleep, and balance your mood at the same time:
- Connect to the fact that your bedtime routine is directly impacted by your dinnertime.
- Start getting ready for bed 1-2 hours before you intend to fall asleep.
- Don’t use any electronics or keep the TV on when you are getting ready for sleep.
- Try to avoid stimulants like caffeine or alcohol for, at least, shortly before sleep.
- Set up your bedroom to provide a restful night’s sleep, including a cool and quiet environment.
- Get blackout curtains to keep it as dark as possible in your bedroom.
- Participate in quiet and calm activities before bed, such as reading or writing in your journal.
With these few changes, you will notice that you tend to fall asleep a little easier, and you wake up more refreshed.
Pay Attention to What You Eat
This might not be what you want to hear, but what you eat does make a difference in how you feel. Some foods, such as refined carbohydrates and the hidden sugar in your favorite foods, can give you energy in the short-term. However, they also cause an energy crash, after which you might notice a worse mood.
When it comes to eating right, you want to focus on balance and proper nutrients. Adding in more complex carbs, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein is usually a good idea. Join me in my Eat Good, Feel Good Facebook group for extra support on good eats.
Move Your Body Every Day
In addition to eating right, try to also get some regular exercise. Again, I am not talking about completing a difficult fitness challenge or pushing yourself to do some extreme form of activity you don’t enjoy.
Instead, find some workouts that get you moving, you are motivated and excited to try, and that you actually enjoy. These can help you become mentally healthier and improve your mood exponentially, with the added benefit of being good for your physical health as well.
Come hang out with me in the Active Life, Healthy Life Facebook group for fitness tips, exercise challenges, and support from me and from my health professional friends.
Some ideas of things to include in your daily habits include:
- Walking or going on a hike
- Yoga or Pilates
- Bike Riding
- Family workouts with your kids
When you appreciate the blessings in your life, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, your mood will change practically overnight.
No matter how difficult or challenging things might feel right now, there are always things to be grateful for. It might be people in your life who are always loving and supportive, a good job, a roof over your head, your pets, or family. Alternatively, it may be as simple as your cup of coffee every morning when you have 5 minutes of peace and quiet.
To improve your mood every day, start writing 5-10 things you are grateful for in your journal. Turn this into a daily ritual that you do every morning, in addition to your evening routine, and you will notice the changes very quickly.
Make Self-Care a Priority
Self-care is so much more than people realize, and often misunderstood.
Your self-care routine should be something you do for yourself and only you.
At least once a day, you choose some type of activity that you enjoy, relaxes you, and makes you happy.
While it can be absolutely anything, here are a few ideas if you’re not sure where to start:
- Give yourself a facial
- Watch your favorite show
- Read a book
- Work on an art project
- Take an afternoon nap
- Soak in a bath-> get great bath bombs here.
It can be something you do alone or with friends. There are no rules about self-care, as long as it makes you feel better and is something you truly enjoy.
Declutter and Organize Your Space
Yes, working on your space and getting it organized helps with mood stabilization! Have you ever woken up in a clean and orderly room, and just felt better? Just having a decluttered and clean home makes all the difference. You feel happier, healthier, and more productive.
Spend just a few minutes a day picking up your home and tidying it as much as you can, even if you have a busy schedule. FlyLady has some pretty good tips.
Unplug at Least Once a Day
Give yourself at least one time of the day when you are completely unplugged. This means no computer or laptop, no tablet, and no cell phone. You may even want to include television time in unplugging!
We all need some time to relax without social media, phone updates, and text messages. This allows you to sit in the quiet and just enjoy the peace.
Set Healthy Boundaries
This is probably one of the more surprising ways you can boost your mood naturally. Sometimes, you have so many expectations and so many people needing things from you, that you don’t realize your responsibilities are what is negatively affecting your mood. This is especially true now as even the most simple decisions become complicated.
It is okay to say no. Turning down an invitation is perfectly fine. You do not have to always be the one person people can count on for whatever they need. Set some healthy boundaries and let people know when and if you are available to them. If they love you, they will understand your need for boundaries, just like you respect their boundaries.
Get Outside for Fresh Air
Lastly, try to spend more time outside if you can. Fresh air and vitamin D will both greatly benefit your mood and energy levels.
Many people don’t get enough vitamin D in their diet and aren’t outside enough during the day to get it naturally from the sun’s UV rays. The simplest thing is to figure out how you can spend a little more time outside.
If you are still having a rough time then you may like to consider a few of my favorite products such as one for sleep and another for mood. Ask me for recommendations.
What habits do you consider to be the most important?
Elise Ho, Ph.D., D.N.Psy