Hello everyone - We have a few more weeks of winter left, then Spring will be here!! This is the time of year that the winter blues tend to set in during the cold blasts after a long, hard winter. Keep going, though, better days are ahead.
To get you through the remaining cold weather, here are a few helpful hints, forwarded to me by Linda, a longtime friend. There's some real wisdom here!
10 Great Ways To Bust A Bad Mood....
1) Spice Things Up
Capsaicin, the zesty compound that gives hot peppers their zing, can stimulate a rush of feel-good endorphins in the brain, erasing a funky mood in as little as two minutes, say researchers at the University of Texas.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: Jazz up your next meal with at least three slices of pickled peppers, one tablespoon of fresh jalapeno or a half a teaspoon of hot sauce.
2) Wrap Yourself in a Soft Blanket
Your brain and body are so interconnected, that the sensation of something soothing touching your skin can have a significant impact on your mood, explains John Bargh, Ph.D., a professor of cognitive science at Yale University.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: After a tough day, wrap yourself in a soft blanket. This simple trick can chase away a bad mood in as little as 20 minutes, say University of California researchers, since being enveloped in softness shifts brain wave activity from the right side, which produces negative emotions, to the left, which promotes positive feelings.
3) Pop a Peppermint
The scent of peppermint significantly increases your brain’s production of alpha waves, electrical impulses that can produce a calmer, happier mood in as little as three minutes, say researchers at Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Bonus: “And for as many as 86 percent of people, this crisp scent can also quickly lower feelings of stress,” adds
4) Spoon Up Potato Soup
Soup is always soothing. But pick a potato variety and you can feel noticably calmer in as little as 30 minutes, thanks to the tuber’s proven ability to boost brain levels of tryptophan as much as 54 percent, say scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The reason: “Tryptophan is a key building block of the calming hormone, serotonin,” explains Amy Lanou, Ph.D., a senior nutrition scientist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. “So the more tryptophan in your brain, the more serotonin you’ll produce and the more laid back you’ll feel.”
Smile-Inducing Strategy: At the supermarket? Be sure to buy a few cans of potato soup to spoon up on stressful days.
(5) Sing Inspirational Songs
People who sing along to their favorite songs are 81 percent less likely to fall into a funk, according to Columbia University researchers. Experts say it produces vibrations in the brain that kick-start production of calming neurotransmitters called endorphins, helping almost 100 percent of people feel calmer for an hour or more.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: To nab the mood-boosting benefit, experts suggest belting out your favorite tunes 15 minutes daily.
6) Bite Into a Brownie
Brownies contain cocoa and cocoa contains phenylethylamine, a potent antidepressant found naturally in the brain. Scientists at Tucson’s University of Arizona say phenylethylamine also prods the brain to produce more of the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, which can help secure a sunnier mindset faster.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: Yes, it's a bit of an indulgence, so stick to a small serving. Even a one-inch square brownie or a small cup of hot cocoa can help you get the feel-good effect.
7) Relax in a Rocker
The gentle, rhythmic motion of a rocking chair stimulates your brain to produce the calming hormone, oxytocin, lulling you into a relaxed state within two minutes, say researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: Their follow-up studies suggest just 10 minutes of rocking is so soothing, it can slash your production of the stress hormone, cortisol, for up to four hours!
8) Wash a Few Windows
A burst of brisk exercise can erase blue moods for over an hour afterward, say researchers at Stanford University. The reason: It slashes the production of mood-sapping cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones by 45 percent and that helps your brain stay 25 percent more upbeat, even when your stress levels are off the charts.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: Take a few moments to scrub two windows until they gleam. Bonus: The extra blasts of light you’ll get from the cleaner panes will shut down your brain’s of sleep-inducing melatonin, helping you feel more energized all day long, says Norman Rosenthal, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Washington’s Georgetown Medical School.
9) Spread Some Good Words
Taking the time to praise people has been shown to improve mood and banish stress as effectively as meditation or yoga, and the effect can last two days, say researchers at Duke University. “Being uplifting to others naturally increases production of the antidepressant hormones dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin,” explains Scott Haltzman, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Brown University. It also builds strong social ties, which University of Rochester researchers say helps prevent depression for up to 72 percent of people.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: Strive to dole out a compliment or two daily. Just a few kind words will make you, as well as those around you, feel better.
10) Say Cheese!
Feeling grumpy? Fake it! Simply acting happy, by smiling, even if you’re frowning on the inside, causes major biochemical changes in the brain that boost production of the antidepressant hormone, serotonin, often in as little as three minutes. “Your brain is constantly checking body cues, like your facial expression, to help gauge how it should be feeling and it alters neurotransmitter production to get you there!” explains James Laird, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Clark University.
Smile-Inducing Strategy: Sport a smile even when you don’t feel like it and walk with good posture. For at least 40 percent of people, says Laird, combining a smile (real or fake) with good posture helps them feel more calm and content.