Lift your mood – easier said than done. Often people make suggestions that can take a lot of effort, or the timing is not right. What to do? Allow me to share 5 mood lifting habits that worked for me recently. Some when I least expected it.
You, too, may have various ways to lift your mood and you may not even be aware of all of them. Different people have different tools in their emotional First Aid Box:
Sleeping, walking, sports, praying, aromatherapy, seeking or avoiding company, EFT, meditation, music, cooking, gardening, yoga, breathing, pilates, therapy, mindfulness, writing, reading, DIY, crafts and much, much more.
Personally, I need variety, because what works on some days does not work on others. It’s just the way it is. So I keep adding to my own mental, emotional and spiritual First Aid Box.
Before looking at 5 mood lifting behaviours, here are some basics we all need to know.
=> What mood lifting is not about
It’s really important to understand what lifting your mood can give you, and what it can’t. Often people have unrealistic expectations and get frustrated with themselves, when what they are hoping for doesn’t happen.
If you manage to lift your mood, you won’t immediately find the solution to your problems.
We need to lift our mood in order to be able to
- think things through,
- explore options,
- get used to and accept some perhaps difficult and permanent truths about our life,
- make appropriate choices.
=> A word of warning about the unhelpful stuff
Mood lifting behaviours can also numb the pain and fill the void or empty space inside of us. And not all things that work well are good for us.
Please, don’t lift your mood with the really effective but really unhelpful stuff.
To be frank, in the past, I too, had mood lifting behaviours, which came at a physical and emotional cost.
There are many mood lifting behaviours that work really well – eating, smoking, drinking, drugs … But they work up to a point. And they all come at a problematic and destructive cost!
These behaviours distort our senses and therefore our perception of reality. And if you think about – that is certainly not empowering.
=> A word about addictions
Often we can get addicted to such unhelpful mood managing behaviours.
If you are currently trying to work your way out of an addiction, one piece of advice: make sure you have established another more helpful mood lifting or mood stabilising behaviour before you let go of that crutch. We can easily fall off the wagon, because life does not stand still and gives us a break, while we sort ourselves out. No! You need a healthy Plan B.
Now, let’s turn to some things that helped my recently.
1. Lift your mood with laughter
Recently my mood was very low and heavy: health problems, money worries, an overall bleak picture. I knew this would take time to shift. And I did not know where start.
And when we feel like that, quite frankly often we don’t even feel like turning it around. There is not enough energy and motivation.
At that time I was reading an interview with Karen Gibson, the conductor of the Kingdom Choir, who had performed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. She mentioned that “They did a Bad Lip Reading of us”, a parody video. I had not heard of Bad Lip Reading and looked it up online.
A few moments later I found myself laughing deeply in a way I had not laughed for a very, very long time. I checked out more videos on that site. I know nothing about NBA, but those parodies did some magic for me.
I laughed. I relaxed. I forgot the bad stuff. My mood was lifting. And I felt motivated to keep it that way.
Laughter is said to have several health benefits like reducing stress hormones, regulating blood pressure, increasing blood oxygenation and more.
The laughter certainly did something for me. I felt lighter – in so many ways.
Laughter might not be on the top of your list, when you feel down. But have a go.
I have tried playing laughter tapes in the past, and the good ones (not repetitive canned laughter) worked, too.
2. Lift your mood with humour
Then I stumbled across James Corden, an English actor, comedian, and television host. I remember him well from his Gavin & Stacey days, a British sitcom on UK television. Currently he is based in Los Angeles and hosts The Late Late Show on the US CBS TV channel.
I don’t have a TV and I don’t watch films online. So I was not familiar with his show and car pool karaoke. But then I watched clip after clip after clip – James with Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, Foo Fighters, Usher, Adele, Red Hot Child Peppers, Paul McCartney and on and on it went. And this is not even representative of my taste in music.
But it was something totally different to what I usually watch. And it was great. I felt part of something different. And I could feel good about feeling a bit silly.
How James Corden sings and moves while driving … Only the production team will know how safe that can be. Please do not try at home. But in my 20s I did pretty much the same. And if I still owned a car, I would probably do it, too, when no-one is looking.
Humour and laughter can lift your mood when you least expect it. If you let it.
3. Lift your mood with identification
A good recommendation that can be hard to achieve is “surround yourself with uplifting, motivational and inspirational people”. Who wouldn’t? But who has enough or any of those in their social or family circle? I don’t. And who can afford to go to meetings, courses and talks, especially when one is ill. I can’t. So we have to be creative and get close to those helpful vibes in other ways – reading, radio, TV, online …
Watching James Corden in action, I realised it was not just the humour that was lifting my mood. Something else was going on, that kept my attention and started working on my mental and emotional state.
Here was something I could identify with.
He does not fit the stereotype of the US chat show host. Corden does not look or sound the part. He knows it and has turned it into a successful unique selling point (USP). The parody video How did someone like James Corden get the gig on The Late Late Show (slightly gruesome at times) explains it tongue in cheek.
Self-deprecation is a strong and powerful tool, when we know that underneath it all, we do have what it takes. And that takes people by surprise and makes for good entertainment.
I am no stranger to stereotypical assumption being made about me, for many reasons. There are times when I feel the underdog and seek out others (no offence intended, James) who have turned it around, with uniqueness, wit and flair that leaves others gasping. It perks me up and gives me hope.
We all are judged and have to prove ourselves. And we all judge others, too.
It’s amazing how watching The Late Late Show and carpool karaoke tapped into my psyche when it did, and ended up lifting my mood. Cheers guys!
Getting good vibes even from people we don’t know and who don’t share our problems, that can still lift your mood.
3. Lift your mood by slowing down and resting with fairy tales
When I was first diagnosed with cancer I started re-reading fairy tales: The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson etc. Stories I had read in my childhood. They helped me settled in a dream-like and child-like world, when I was physically and mentally exhausted.
This time around I was not in the mood to read. I wanted to be read to and I wanted to watch – online obliges.
Children’s fairy tales can help lift your mood by soothing you, because there is something familiar and cosy about it.
4. Lift your mood with chanting, mantras and affirmations
If you have not got a chanting, meditation, visualisation or affirmation routine, then don’t be put off. Often people think it is
- not for people like me,
- hard work, complicated and time consuming,
- or simply odd.
I used to be one of those people, but at some point I realised, it does not have to be any of those things. I had to find my own style and, yes, sometimes have to work hard to get “into the zone”. But when I do, I feel the benefit – mentally, emotionally and physically.
You can chant affirmations, sentences, words – anything of use to you, that proves reaffirming and up-lifting. Many years ago 101 Power Thoughts by the late Louise Hay got me started.
The morning AH chanting with Wayne Dyer includes a number of affirmations, which you might like to help lift your mood and focus on your day. It is hosted on Youtube by Daily Inspiration.
There is so much free stuff out there. Go and have a look. Perhaps try and familiarise yourself with Om chanting, a Sanskrit word pronounced “Aum”, which is considered the sound of creation. Scientifically proven health benefits of Om chanting include
- stress reduction,
- increasing concentration and mental alertness,
- sleep enhancing and more.
The importance of vibrations
Now, why would we chant words in an ancient language, which we may not speak or understand?
According to Arundhati Mukherjee “… mantras, which are traditionally sounded in the ancient language of Sanskrit, are designed to create sounds that literally vibrate in the body.”
Try it and you will experience it for yourself. Say Om (“AU-M”), and close your mouth on the “M” and stay with that sound. You will notice the vibration in your mouth. If you are stressed and tense and tend to keep your tongue pressed up against the top of your mouth, chanting Om can help you relax that area and much more.
In her article The Science Behind Mantras Arundhati explains that chanting mantras
- helps balancing our nervous system,
- is empowering,
- changes our moods
- and delivers us from a sense of dependency.
Based on my own experience I agree, though I had to approach it with an open mind and start chanting with some regularity.
Make it a routine
I can recommend you try out a gentle morning and evening routine. Try chanting at least twice a day for at least 10-15 minutes. Whatever you are comfortable with. Sitting or lying down quietly, while not being disturbed is best. The more you find out, the more you will learn about different techniques and positions that may work well for you.
Whether you know chakras or not, whether you chant
- LAM (root chakra)
- NAM (sacral chakra)
- RAM (solar plexus chakra)
- YAM (heart chakra)
- HAM (throat chakra)
- OM (third eye chakra)
- AH (crown chakra)
- or Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
Find out first the meaning of what you chant. Make sure you agree with it. And then chant with intention and an inner connection, which will grow over time.
For basic useful information about the different chakras and associated chanting look up videos by Meditative Mind on YouTube. Here is the link to the root chakra video. The box under the video contains a lot of information, and the start of the video has links for all other chakra videos, each of which has the same information set up.
Please note I am not affiliated with any of the sites mentioned here. Neither have I looked at, read or vetted all their content.
You can also chant more informally. I also do it during my house work, when I get ready in the mornings or when walking my dog.
Remember, turning something special into a routine can lead to losing the heart of it. Not turning something special into a routine can lead to not taking it to heart.
Chanting can lift your mood and also deepen and strengthen the foundation of your mood. It is a simple yet powerful routine that can change your outlook on you and your life.
5. When lifting your mood does not work
There are times when I struggle to lift my mood. And then all I can do is trust that with time it’ll happen.
And then there are times, when I dismiss humour, chanting or anything else in my First Aid Box. Those are the moments of anger, fear and pain when we sulk and feel sorry for ourselves.
I call them the “what ifs, what nots, why not, should have, could have, if only, why never, I don’t care, I blame you, I give up, I can’t bear it” moments.
I believe there is a time for such feelings, too. We must not deny them or judge them. Because they are part of our truth. They make us who we are.
Though we must not get stuck in them either. If we give them some space, it’ll be a lot easier in the long run to pull the hand break and stop, when we have to.
There is lot’s more I do and that you will know about to help you lift your mood. Having these routines gives us the knowledge and evidence that we can do it. And that is important when we get anxious or depressed and frightened, that this dark cloud will become and remain bigger than us.
But it won’t. It has a start and an end.
Trust yourself and your process.
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