Whether you’ve struggled with addiction, depression, or anxiety, you are likely to have days, or even weeks, when you can’t seem to get out of a funk. If you’ve struggled with depression, you might fear the onset of another episode. If you have recently started addiction recovery, you may be suffering from post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, a condition that may linger for months after acute withdrawal and is typically described as depression, or emotional numbness.
There is some standard advice for managing your mood that also happens to be very good advice. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, spend time with friends, and get out into nature. If symptoms persist, discuss it with your doctor or therapist. All of those have been shown by many studies to improve your mood and reduce your risk of depression and anxiety. If you’ve covered the basics already and still feel down, here are some less commonly known ways to boost your mood.
Play with an animal.
Whether you’re anxious or depressed, playing with an animal is a quick fix for any bad mood. It’s nearly impossible to feel depressed when you’re playing with a puppy or a kitten. You can also get a bit of exercise if you play fetch with a dog. Playing with an animal activates your nurturing instincts, which simultaneously reduce stress and take your attention away from your own problems. And it’s impossible not to be amused when you see a kitten focus with complete intensity on killing a red dot. If you don’t have a pet, you can usually play with the animals at the local shelter or pet store.
Studies have found that making music is a reliable way to improve your mood. Studies have specifically looked at singing and drumming. Both are primal forms of music making. Singing has been shown to release the hormone oxytocin, which reduces stress and improves mood. It is especially powerful if you sing with other people, like in a choir. Other studies have found that drumming also can make you feel better. It helps you relax, and keeping a beat forces you to focus. As with singing, drumming in a group adds a social element, making it even more powerful. Playing music of any kind, once you’ve mastered the basics, is also a great way to get into a flow state, in which you are completely engaged and everything just seems to go right. Flow states are one of the best ways to improve your mood.
Change your routine.
There’s a lot to be said for a steady routine. Going to bed and getting up at the same times every day help you sleep better. Having a regular schedule in general makes it easier to make healthy choices without expending a lot of willpower. However, a regular schedule can also start to feel like a rut. Try adding some randomness into your day. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while, or take a different route to work. Go to a tourist attraction in your city that you’ve never bothered about before. It doesn’t have to be big, just something new enough to engage your attention.
Dance, like drumming and singing, can tap into something primal in the brain. It requires rhythm, like drumming, and it is often done socially. Studies have found that people who participate in dance classes enjoy an improvement in mood that can last for months after they stop going. Not only do dance classes entail music and socializing, they challenge you to get some exercise and learn a new skill, which are also good for your mood.
Hold a pencil between your teeth.
Studies have shown that your emotions don’t just affect your facial expression, but your facial expressions also affect your emotions. If you scowl, you start to feel angry and if you smile you start to feel happy. Studies on people who have had botox injections have found that they are less likely to feel depressed, since they are physically unable to contract the facial muscles that feed back into the depressed mood. However, they are also less likely to feel happy for the same reason. Smiling can sometimes leverage leverage you into a better mood. If you’re in one of those moods in which a smile feels dead on your face, try holding a pencil between your teeth, like a pirate holding a knife. It engages the same muscles as smiling and may help you feel better.
Watch a horror movie.
If you are prone to anxiety, watching a horror movie may take the edge off. Many people with anxiety disorders have accidentally discovered that watching horror movies is a good way of coping with their symptoms. This is likely because a horror movie increases your anxiety, but you also know that you are safe, so you’re engaging your anxiety in a controlled environment.
Established in 1939, High Watch is the world’s first 12-Step treatment center. Every individual who walks through our doors joins a definitive culture of compassion, dignity, and respect from a genuinely caring staff dedicated to seeing the disease of addiction find remission. Providing proven therapeutic approaches and comprehensive 12-Step education, patients leave High Watch with the confidence to maintain abstinence and live a healthy, happy, sober life. Start your journey today by calling 860.927.3772.