Our mood is very heavily influenced by outside sources. Things we do, things that happen to us, they all, understandably, change our moods. But there are a few things that we don't think affect us in any way, we usually think that we can forget about them, but in reality, they play a massive role in our long-term mood.
Eating healthy is a key element to any self improvement method. However, admittedly, I never bothered to check my diet. I thought, if I just ate when I'm hungry I'll never be 'hangry' so there you go, mood improved. Obviously, that didn't work. But I didn't know it wasn't working until I started dieting for the gym.
Once I decided to start losing some extra blubber I put on while building muscle, I changed my diet to greens, healthy meats, and a decent amount of vitamins. I had been going to the gym for a long time until this point, so the mood change that comes from exercise was normal to me. But I realized I was generally more lively after changing my diet. Unfortunately, I found this out after I stopped so that I could build muscles again. This is why diet is on this list.
Speaking of exercise, it's nothing new. Everyone knows that exercise is supposed to help your mood. It's also pretty easy to notice that it makes you feel better. So why is it on this list? Even though we can notice exercise giving you a "feel good" moment after you're done, it's that long term mood enhancement that you get used to that is the real reward.
After a while of exercising you feel more energy and therefore more happy throughout all your days, but it doesn't feel related to it. It just feels like your new normal. I noticed this when my trainer had to go into quarantine after his son resulted positive for COVID. At this point stores and restaurants were open so I wasn't stuck at home, but I stopped going to the gym and decided to pursue some other projects and wait for my trainer to come back to work before going again.
By the end of those two weeks, I felt super down. And had no energy to keep doing the projects I wanted to. two days after starting the gym again I went back to normal. The importance of exercise is more than just health and short term stress relief. It's a long term heightened energy and mood vehicle.
By exercise, I don't mean Olympic sports or marathons. Even walks count or a 7-minute morning workout.
Anything that gets you moving just a little bit more than normal.
Doesn't it just feel good to go outside for a second just to breathe in some cool, fresh air? That's because fresh air gives you energy, vitality, it relaxes you, and it's good for your health. In fact, people with a greater sense of vitality tend to get sick less often according to research.
But not everyone has access to clean fresh air, so how do you get its benefits anyway? Yes, it's as simple as you thought. Go into nature! The beach, a forest, the mountain, even the desert. Whatever space you have near your city that has a lot of nature and little pollution. A general rule of thumb is fewer cars = better air. That's it! Now you can go and take an energizing, mood improving walk!
Expressing gratitude has a neurological impact on our brain. Like meditation, its effects are hard to notice but making a habit of expressing daily gratitude increases perceived social support and likeability, communication, and strengthens interpersonal connections.
It also has the added benefit of deterring toxic emotions, reducing pain, improving sleep quality, and reducing stress and anxiety. On top of all that it also cultivates happiness and joy. How? When you express feelings of gratitude it rewires your brain to make more connections to the "bliss center", it also enhances dopamine and serotonin transmitters, and in turn, regulates stress hormone release.
Not too long ago I talked about the halo effect. This is exactly what I mean when I say dress better. You can read it more in-depth by clicking on the link but in short, the halo effect is when you think someone is more successful just because they're good looking. This can apply to your own thoughts about yourself, thereby increasing your perceptions of yourself and your mood.
Positive affirmations affect your subconscious making it believe what you tell it, therefore making you feel better. This point is least like the other ones because you don't get a boost in happiness right away before a long term boost in mood. This only really works long term, however, the effects are irreplaceable.
Bottling it up
So far I've talked about what you should do, but here's a few things you shouldn't do instead. Don't bottle up your emotions. As with almost anything that has to do with your emotions, bottling things up increases stress. Physically.
On top of that, bottling in emotions very often leads to escapist behavior. This is often self-destructive behavior, which stems from a negative feeling that expresses itself in any way it can. A lot of times this can be heavy drinking, drug use, or reckless driving.
Lack Of Sleep
Sure, when you don't sleep you feel tired. You are also on edge. We all know this. But what you might not know is that sleepiness actually affects performance worse than alcohol does. It is actually pretty comparable to being intoxicated. This means that not only will you be grumpy, but you will have huge mood swings, like a drunk, which isn't good in any way.
Stability and routine is needed in life to ensure we can decide which direction to go in, emotional instability is actively detrimental to this choice, making it almost impossible to reach your potential.
Being kind has a boomerang effect. When you do something kind for someone else, the feeling you give them reciprocates to you almost instantly and makes you feel happier. What we don't often realize, however, is that this feeling lingers from a day to a whole week, depending on what act of kindness you did. This is super powerful if your goal is to increase long term mood!
. . .
Most things that affect mood are already known to the vast majority of us. But some things have a longer lasting effect on your mood than you may realize. It's easy to look over them and just think you don't need a dopamine boost today. But what if you're actually deciding to not have a dopamine boost for the week? Now it starts to sound more important to do these actions. What are your thoughts on this? Have you been doing some of these already? And which ones will you start now?
Hi, I'm Matthew, my mission is to spread knowledge about motivation, productivity, and enabling people to achieve the best that they can be! I have a vast background in psychology and a passion for self-improvement. I literally can't remember a time when I didn't have a psychology book in my hands. On top of that, I've traveled around the world from a very young age, and seen many different courses of life, forming friendships with highly successful people, as well as people who are willing to do anything to make ends meet. My own life took me down a roller coaster of highs and lows, and I'm forever grateful that I've been able to overcome everything it threw at me. Now I want to take the opportunity to give back, and help others learn tools and methods for becoming who they were born to be!