5 Expert-Approved & Science-Backed Things That Will Actually Help To Boost Your Mood

If the January blues have hit, Chartered Psychologist, Suzy Reading shares her best (and proven) advice…

5 Expert-Approved & Science-Backed Things That Will Actually Help To Boost Your Mood

Feeling a little blue? We get it… no really we do. Whilst January is great for signaling a fresh start and looking ahead, it can also feel a little overwhelming. Instead of setting big goals and piling on the pressure, we’re all about being kinder to ourselves. If the January blues have hit, fear not as we’ve called in the help of expert psychologist, Suzy Reading who is here to share five little things we can do each and every day that will actually help to lift our mood…

1. Take A Break

We all know that movement is good for us, but did you know that some studies have found that sitting still for too long can increase your risk of several health problems. So much so, some researchers have even started to say, ‘sitting is the new smoking’. But it’s not just your physical health that’s impacted – sitting for too long can also be bad news for mental health too. In 2016 researchers took a group of healthy individuals in their early 20s and asked them to be more sedentary. After just two weeks of, the group showed higher stress levels and depressive symptoms. You can read more about it here if you’re interested.

My best advice? Get up at least every 30 minutes and do something… grab a drink or have a little stretch.

2. Rethink Your Posture

It’s not just how long we’re sitting for that can have an impact, how you sit also matters. In fact, research shows that sitting with a rounded spine and a downcast gaze (i.e the ‘smart phone slump’) lowers your mood and your energy levels. There are also studies (like this one) which have shown that sitting with a tall upright spine and broad collarbones helps to lift our mood and energy.

Take a moment to rethink how and where you're sat most of your day. If you’re at a desk, adjust your set-up so that your feet are flat on the floor with a right angle at your hips and knees. Sit tall and gaze forward not down. This may mean you need a laptop stand to keep your screen at eye level and to avoid you looking down.

3. Get Outside

Whilst this one may be nothing new and we’re always being told we’ll feel better if we get outside, there is actual proof that nature brings mental health benefits. In one study investigating the therapeutic power of walking outside, participants showed a drop in levels of anxious thinking and brain scans showed a reduced activation in the part of the brain associated with feelings of sadness and worry. This is because being outside can be deeply soothing for your nervous system.

Just 10 minutes is enough to feel calmer and ease feelings of stress. Top tip: try to get outside first thing in the mornings to set yourself up for a better day.

4. Be Kinder To Yourself… Yes Really!

We often think that to boost performance and productivity we should be tough on ourselves but research in fact shows the complete opposite. Studies have shown that self-forgiveness, self-compassion, or being gentle with ourselves actually boosts our willpower and helps us make better decisions more often.

By dialing down the stress response, we are able to focus better and copy with setbacks. One of my favourite little tricks is ‘eye palming’. Simply rub your hands together to create heat and then close your eyes and place your palms over your eyes with your fingers cupping your head. It encourages some well-deserved time-out from time to time. Try some self-soothing breaths before releasing and re-entering your day wherever you left off.

5. LOVE The Little Things

If you feel you don’t have time for the first four strategies, then this one is for you. In as little as 15 seconds, this one can help you with feelings of burnout and anxiety. It may sound too good to be true, but this is backed by solid research like this.

Develop fresh eyes by setting the intention to seek out good things. It doesn’t need to be anything big… something pretty out of your window, the smell of your morning coffee or perhaps your favourite piece of music. Being a little more appreciative and aware can work wonders for bringing a mood boost anywhere and anytime.

Try this: Several times a day, look around you and seek out something awe-inspiring to you. Try to focus on this exact moment and be present.

For more evidence-based, feel-good tips, follow Suzy here.