Many people love autumn for its serenity, the last warm days and golden leaves. But its other side – cold and prolonged rains – is capable of catching melancholy on anyone. We chose several ways to cheer ourselves up from the book “Better Every Day”.
A study from the University of Arizona compared participants’ self-reported happiness levels with the quality of conversation. The scientists recorded the conversations of 97 student participants for 4 days. And then classified them as superficial or meaningful. Superficial conversations meant non-committal conversations, like commenting on the weather, while meaningful conversation meant the exchange of ideas and information: discussing events in each other’s lives or exchanging opinions about the news.
In general, higher life satisfaction was noted by those who simply talked more and spent less time alone. However, the happiest had one third fewer shallow conversations and twice as many meaningful conversations as those who reported the lowest satisfaction.
How many meaningful conversations does it take to be happier? Scientists are in no hurry to give exact numbers. However, Dr. Matthias Mehl, senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology, found that it is enough to “prescribe” the participant with just five additional meaningful conversations per week, 15 minutes each, for him to notice an improvement in mood.
Make time for hobbies
Activities such as playing the guitar, handicrafts and gardening help to take your mind and body away from everyday worries. More importantly, hobbies help you relax, says Dr. Gabriela Cora.
“A hobby shouldn’t be difficult or challenging—it’s just fun and interesting,” Cora explains. Therefore, sports and other activities where you strive to compete, even with yourself, are not very suitable for this purpose. In order for you to relax while doing a hobby, the process itself must be enjoyable, regardless of the result. Find an activity that completely absorbs your attention. You will not even notice how stress and anxiety gradually go away.
Find a diet of joy
In one British study, participants were asked to give up certain foods, after which the participants noted a change in how they felt. Avoiding sugar, alcohol, caffeine (and, for some, chocolate) reduced the frequency of mood swings and anxiety attacks, while increasing dietary intake of vegetables, fruits, water, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, helped test subjects feel overall more harmonious.
Naturally, we all react differently to different foods and nutrients, so start noticing how you feel after snacking and eating, especially during times of stress. Write down in a notebook what you ate, and evaluate your mood immediately after eating and several hours later. Experiment until you find foods and dishes that have a beneficial effect on your well-being; gradually increase their number in the diet and reduce the number of those after which your mood deteriorates or discomfort appears.
Norwegian scientists say that art benefits not only those who perform on stage, draw or otherwise show creative aspirations, but the positive effect is observed both in the audience in the hall and in the visitors of art galleries. It is expressed in an improvement in mood and a higher assessment of one’s own state of health. Scientists cannot say exactly what causes this result, but it is possible that contact with art contributes to a sense of camaraderie or serves as inspirational entertainment. Decide what kind of art appeals to you. Go to a theater or a gallery, flip through an album of reproductions of paintings by your favorite artists, turn on classical music, and you will feel healthier and happier.
If the Grammy award does not shine for you or you are embarrassed to take up the microphone even in karaoke, this is not a reason not to sing for your own pleasure. Even just humming a tune can lift your spirits , says Dr Ann Skingley , lead researcher at the Sidney de Haan Research Center for the Arts and Health at the University of Canterbury – Christchurch in New Zealand.
Her research suggests that singing may be even more enjoyable than listening to music, as it involves active participation. Whether you sing in the bathroom or in the choir, you will amplify positive emotions by finding new opportunities to express your voice. According to Skingley , the benefits of singing are not only psychological: studies show that singing can ease some chronic illnesses, calm anger in dementia, and help control breathing in lung conditions.
look out the window
Recreation in nature is known to reduce anxiety and improve mood. But on a rainy autumn day, you don’t want to go outside at all. It doesn’t matter: it turns out that to restore strength, it is enough to watch nature outside the window, says Rachel Kaplan, professor of environmental psychology at the University of Michigan. A single tree or flower can give hope, peace or vitality when they are lacking. It is useful even to look at indoor plants if you care for them.
The saying “Appetite comes with eating” applies to many things in life, but you probably didn’t suspect that it can be used as a guide to improve your mood. When we feel good, we smile; but research shows that smiling—even if you feel sad—uplifts your mood automatically.
“It’s no surprise that when we smile, we perceive ourselves as happier people,” says Dr. Matthew Gertenstein , assistant professor of psychology and head of DePow University’s Touch and Emotion Laboratory . But there’s also a physiological connection: “There’s a lot of evidence that smiling actually improves mood,” he says. “When the facial muscles involved in smiling contract, it affects the physiology of the brain, and you experience positive emotions. The effect of a single smile is not very strong, but it tends to accumulate, and this is very useful. So when you feel good, show it with a smile. And when you feel bad, still smile. This simple action alone can be enough to improve your mood.
A hot cup of tea can help you unwind after a hard day, and new research shows that certain types of tea can also help boost your health. “A growing body of evidence shows that drinking a few cups of black tea a day can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and green tea can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer,” says Dr. Diane McKay of Tufts University’s Antioxidant Laboratory . White tea and herbal teas also have beneficial properties. The healthy dose of tea has not yet been determined, and McKay advises simply drinking tea regularly – 1-3 cups a day.
If you want to quickly cheer yourself up – put on sneakers. Just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise is enough to improve mood, scientists from the University of Vermont have determined, and this improvement can be enough for a whole day. Participants in the experiment did 20 minutes of exercise on a moderate exercise bike, and then several times during the day they assessed the level of manifestation of various emotions, including tension, anger and depression. It turned out that after a mini-training, the “cyclists” maintained a higher level of positive emotions for the whole day and a lower level of negative ones than the control group, which did not exercise on the simulator.
Giving to charity makes us noticeably happier, say researchers at the University of British Columbia. A recent study of spending patterns found that the more a person spends on others rather than on themselves, the more satisfied they are with life. There are many ways to show generosity – donate a large amount to a women’s crisis center, just treat a friend to dinner, etc. By the way, non-monetary acts of kindness also help to improve your mood, so don’t let the lack of funds prevent you from being generous.