January can be a bummer. The holidays have come and gone, summer is far, far away and most people are struggling with their New Year’s resolutions. This mix is the perfect combination for even the cheeriest of people to feel sad, tired, guilty and unsure of themselves. Fortunately, there are some quick and easy ways to boost your energy and your mood. Check them out below.
Go outside and take a walk
Getting outside when it is chilly can be difficult, especially if you’re headed outdoors to exercise. However, once you start moving, the combination of sunlight and endorphins from exercise kick in and provide an immediate energy boost. You don’t have to go on a four mile run or do a crazy workout to enjoy the benefits of alertness and greater focus. Exercise improves body image and confidence, along with many other benefits.
Eat fruits and vegetables
Humans have spent years studying how food affects the body and brain. Most people know what is considered “healthy,” but when we’re feeling blue it can be easier to resort to comfort foods. But, even though a bag of chips when you’re stressed might provide instant gratification, it doesn’t provide long-term benefits like healthier options do. Snacking on fruits or veggies instead of processed foods with refined sugars can help improve your mood and combat inflammation which leads to ailments like headaches, sore muscles, arthritis and heartburn. If fresh produce is outside of your price range, consider frozen or canned fruit, but avoid canned fruit in syrup, which contains additional sugar. Whether you’re eating fresh, frozen or canned fruits and veggies, try combining them with milk or yogurt and ice for a refreshing smoothie for breakfast instead of picking up a bacon, egg and cheese on the way to school or work.
Whether you love it, hate it, or have never tried it, there are a lot of opinions out there about yoga. Regardless of your opinions, yoga has a ton of mental and physical health benefits. The beauty of yoga is that it emphasizes living in the present and encourages those who practice to work at their own pace. That means if you’ve never tried yoga before, you won’t get an evil eye from the people in class if you’re a little lost on your first try. Consistent yoga practice also pushes you into uncomfortable positions where you are encouraged to work through it with your body and mind. This kind of coping translates outside the studio as you encounter difficulties in life. It teaches you to take a deep breath and recenter yourself. Although yoga studio memberships can be pretty pricey, there are plenty of videos online you can follow if you want to try it out at home. For people who want to try it out in the studio, community classes, offered for a discounted price, can be easy to find.
Put down your smartphone
No matter the time of day or the way we’re feeling, when we get a few minutes to ourselves, we typically reach right for our smartphones. Whether it’s scrolling through Instagram for five minutes or checking your email every ten minutes, the amount of time Americans spend on their smartphones is in some cases being considered an addiction. Although our smartphones have created an easy way to escape our thoughts and feelings, statistics show that the more time people spend on their smartphones, the more likely they are to feel unhappy. To take that one step further, individuals who spend a lot of time on social media are also at a greater risk for depression and anxiety. Because social media is a collection of the best moments of people’s lives, it creates an imaginary standard that people feel they don’t live up to. This fuels a cycle of low self-esteem and poor self-image. For a nice mood boost, trying taking a social media hiatus. Use that time to decompress and focus on how amazing your life is, without constantly comparing it to the people you see online. If you’re bored without your smartphone, try reading a book where you can still get the entertaining benefit of escaping to another world.
Get a full night’s sleep
When you’re feeling sick, tired or unhappy, your sleep quality can take a serious hit. Running on little sleep not only makes you feel physically tired, but also impacts your emotional health. While not all people need the same amount of sleep, it is generally accepted that most people need at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, the four steps already outlined in this blog are good ways to improve the quality of your sleep. However, another way to fall asleep faster is to develop a nightly routine. Count backwards from the time you need to wake up, and start your routine 1-2 hours before you need to be asleep. Your routine might include general tasks like taking a shower, washing your face and brushing your teeth, or could include other activities like drinking a cup of tea or stretching before bed. It is also helpful to put all electronics away an hour before you go to bed so your eyes and brain have time to decompress before you fall asleep. One final piece of advice is to sleep with your smartphone outside of your bedroom, as studies show it can help improve your quality of sleep. None of these work for you? Check out these 15 other science-backed tips to fall asleep faster.