Welcome to The Growth Philosophy.
Sometimes we feel bad, this is perfectly normal. The human condition is one of varying emotions, a never ending roller-coaster of experience and not feeling good is one of these emotions we all have to confront from time to time. This experience for some may just be a grumpy mood or an annoying light headache (usually the two go hand in hand), all the way through to all sorts of depression and anxiety disorders.
Alas! We are not destined to a life of complete suffering, here a few techniques backed by science that i have implemented and used in my own life to improve my mood and overall wellness day to day. If i notice a slump, i use some of these techniques to pull myself out, or if not, at least i can sleep well knowing i tried!
It is also worth mentioning, whilst a lot of the below is back by science, i am not a doctor/medical professional, take it for what it is worth!
Now, momentum, most imagine it to be the physical act of propelling yourself forward. That is one definition and that type of momentum certainly plays a part in overall wellness and feeling good. But, momentum can be merely making your bed (thanks Peterson), doing the dishes, anything that moves you toward feeling more productive and better about yourself. I will start with a personal favourite.
Writing or some form of creative pursuit – On day’s i am in my head and ruminating and can feel a rise in anxiety i regularly check in with myself. I will notice the pattern and commit to diverting my attention, even if i don’t feel up for it, to my notepad, computer, whatever it is that allows for my brain to switch on the other hemisphere, the creative part of my brain. This will instantly make you feel better, it does for me, if you can find even the smallest amount of flow-state (i’ll elaborate more on flow in another post).
I think it is incredibly beneficial to have some creative outlet to turn to in your life, whether is pottery, gardening, writing poems.. whatever it is for you, just find something that allows you to create. It’s hard to feel bad when you’re creating. This will help create a positive momentum within your day and help you build towards feeling more productive.
You can read more about wellness and creativity in the The Journal of Positive Psychology below.
Exercise – A tried and true pillar of wellness, there is now a plethora of information out there about the beneficial affects on mood during and after exercise. Some studies have even linked exercise to being a potential treatment for certain mental illnesses. Personally, i love it, i love exercising and it is definitely the most mood altering thing i have in my tool kit. Almost every single time i walk into the gym with a flat mood, i walk out feeling better, this is due to a cocktail of chemical reactions in the body. I am sure we have all heard of endorphins and the runners high, feel good chemicals ejaculating through your brain. This is true for me, plus your body feels better, stronger, lighter ect and will thank you in the long term. I also get to eat more, even better! this always increases my mood hehe! I also feel extremely productive after i tick off some form of exercise and this allows me to build some momentum into the day and get shit done.
Here is a study if you wish to have a look about exercise and mood.
Sunlight – Another naughty little trick i use to improve my mood is simply exposing myself to the sun. Yep, direct sunlight on my skin. Nothing crazy, i understand the potential risks, but for me the pros definitely out-way the cons and i am not afraid of the sun. After all, the sun is our creator, without it we wouldn’t be here. So i get around the sun, I love it, if i can find 20 minutes of direct sunlight during the peak hours of the day, i will chuck on a singlet or short sleeve and go for a nice walk. Alternatively, no shirt at all works! if you’re okay with getting your meat suit out and working on your tan. Works for me every single time! Try it.
I will also throw out a controversial one – cold showers. Very popular right now and is something i have done from time to time, but i find it hard and hard to make a consistent part of my routine. It certainly will alter your mood though, give it a whirl and see if it is for you. Cold water exposure is awesome for you!
Here is an interesting study about sunlight and vitamin D.
Sauna – I love the sauna. Those who know me personally would even say i am a fanboy. The sauna and i have this sort of, connection, i don’t know if it is all the bodily fluid i have released in there, but we are one. Picture this for a moment, a man is flat, not feeling great, he walks into a sauna, in his little briefs. He sits for 20 minutes and sweats profusely, he walks out. This man now feels better. This is what i do about 4 or 5 times a week and i have noticed a lot of benefits. There is a bunch of science out now about the benefits.
For me at least i see it as, if nothing else, a little mental battle. I feel we are way to comfortable as a species nowadays and the reason we react poorly to everyday life is part of that, we have it too good. So i enjoy exposing myself to uncomfortable situations as often as i can, so that when i am confronted with uncomfortable situations day to day i am better able to handle the stress. Give it a go sometime! Enjoy the sweat.
Here is a great video about the benefits of sauna use by Dr. Rhonda Patrick.
Oh and a sauna study for you.
There are so many other little techniques that are awesome for altering our moods, the above are the ones i use regularly, almost every day. Here are a few more to add to your tool belt.
Gratitude – Try grabbing a pen and paper and writing 5 things you’re grateful for. Can literally be for the oxygen you’re breathing, the chance to have been born, the food in your fridge. Whatever it is. I find this is a beautiful and mood altering practice.
Study re gratitude.
Playing with animals – I have a Pomeranian, his name is Trippytaco, or Trip. He is my best mate and i love him unconditionally. He has been there for me through some shit and dark times, so i am forever thankful and that is literally what i do sometimes. Sometimes ill just sit and pet him and tell him how much i love him and it makes me feel better. It seems to bring me back to the moment, animals have that effect. They are forever just happy to be with you and in the present. We can learn a lot from them.
Yep – you guessed it. This is backed by science and yet another study. Frontiers in Psychology.
Mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
3 very different things, even if mindfulness is a branch of meditation. However i will lump them all together for the sake of this post. Have you ever been off ruminating, thinking about some terrible impending issue that probably will never come to fruition? Then all of a sudden you take a breath, come back to the present and focus on a bird flying past, or a beautiful tree, whatever. That is mindfulness. The psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. A lot of people start with 5 minutes, eyes closed, focusing on the breathe. Don’t worry if you get lost in thought! that’s the point, to catch these moments with no judgement and bring your attention back to the breathe. Repeat.. Try it willfully and watch your mind and life grow!
Finally i will wrap up this post with love.
Love is beautiful and love is how we are going to solve almost every issue we have today around the world. No i am not stoned, this is what i believe haha.
But relating to mood, when you’re expressing love in its truest form, you cant be sad, you can’t be down. Try calling someone in your family spontaneously and telling someone you love them, or a friend even. Text your brother or sister and tell them you love them. Walk past the tree in awe and amazement at the complexity of its design and how it keeps you alive and show it love. Pet the dog as you walk past. Smile at strangers and spark up a conversation, let them know you too have a story and a life and feel the energy exchange of love. You are going to die, they are going to die, don’t go with anything in the tank, let all of that love out into the world. You will be better for it, whoever receives it will be better for it and the world will be better for it.
On that note, that’s all I’ve got for now. Feel free to comment your own personal favourite mood boosting, momentum building activities. Like, share, whatever makes you happy.
Until next time.