How to boost your mood

The holidays have passed and it’s a new year. Best of all, spring is on the horizon—we can still see the sun at 5 p.m., the birds are chirping, and warmer days are getting closer!

Although it’s almost time to ditch those winter coats and snow boots for the year, our winter blue moods might hang around a little longer. A lot of people suffer from a downshift in mood during the winter months, and if you live anywhere in the Northeast, that winter weather can sometimes linger until early April.

But there are some strategies that can help you quickly boost your mood. Whether you are feeling depressed and anxious or just need a little pep, these three skills can help shift you into a higher gear. If you notice a positive change, keep going!

Get Outside: Research shows that if we can get outside and move our bodies, our mood improves. Go for a walk around the block during lunch or right when you get home, or take some time to sit outside on a nearby bench and people watch.

If you don’t have that much time, even standing outside for five minutes to get fresh air can help. However much time you have, take notice of what’s around you—what do you see and what can you hear? Take five deep breaths and smell that air.

Toss on that Playlist: Music can be an easy and quick way to help us feel a little better. I suggest creating playlists for all mood states. That way if you are feeling a negative emotion, you don’t have to worry about scrolling through to find those particular songs you need. All you have to do is hit play.
So what music helps you feel energized? Motivated? Relaxed?

Once you’ve identified those songs and created your playlists, you can just find the right one, get involved in the lyrics and the beat, and see if you notice your mood shift.

Opposite Action: This skill is a must when trying to fight against a more entrenched negative mood. The idea is to do the opposite of whatever your current low mood is telling you to do.

If your mood is saying, “Don’t get out of bed, just sleep and avoid the day,” then your opposite action says, “Forget that! Put your feet on the floor, and get moving one step at a time.” Then you can try to find small steps to get out of bed and see if that can help motivate you to do tasks at home or even sit outside.

The more we submit to our negative mood and allow it to dictate what we do, the lonelier, sadder, and more anxious we become.

So if you are feeling lonely, you could try texting a friend; that might encourage you to make social plans instead of hanging out on your own.

If you are feeling anxious, instead of avoiding what is making you feel that way you could make a short list of smaller steps that can help you accomplish the bigger task at hand.

Completing these smaller steps is all part of opposite action. Once we fight that negative mood and find a way to get moving—even a little at a time—we usually start to feel better.

No matter your mood today, these skills are definitely worth practicing. Depending on your current mood state, these skills could quickly boost your mood or take a little time. So be patient with yourself.

And remember: To kick that negative mood to the curb, get outside, throw on some tunes, and don’t let that negative mood tell you what to do!

As always, I’m sending good energy your way.

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  • Angela Ficken

    Boston-based psychotherapist and entrepreneur

    I am a therapist who will challenge you to work on becoming the happier, healthier self you envision. I am an active listener in sessions and believe that providing feedback is the best way to challenge behavior patterns and to ultimately help you connect with your own strengths, wisdom, and inner resources. I ask questions and will engage you in a thoughtful way while providing you with a non-judgmental, supportive environment. I use several therapy strategies to guide patients toward accomplishing goals: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Supportive Psychotherapy Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) – Exposure therapy is specifically used for people diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Each individual comes with different experiences and needs, therefore we might use one or all of these strategies based on what you want to work on. I believe in progress, not perfection and that with every problem there is an opportunity for growth.