Some of the most simple adjustments can drastically change how we experience life. Check out this list of 21 natural things that you can do to lift your spirit:
1. Get Some Sunshine
Multiple research studies show that sunshine can boost our mood by naturally increasing levels of vitamin D. Twenty minutes of sunshine in the morning can lift energy levels and help improve your motivation for the day.
2. Uplifting Music
Music strongly effects our mood and boosts confidence. It has also been shown to activate the reward pathways in the brain and increase our self-awareness and ability to connect with others.
Not only is smiling contagious but it has also been shown to release chemicals in your brain that improve mood, reduce pain, lower blood pressure, and even lengthen your life. Research also shows that it does not matter if the smile is fake or authentic. If you don’t feel like smiling, the simple act of holding a pen or pencil between your teeth can create the same effects.
The simple act of breathing can significantly reduce stress, improve your mood, and enhance your body’s ability to adapt to the environment. When we breathe deeply and slowly into the lower abdomen we trigger the parasympathetic nervous system that controls our relaxation, digestion, and sleep response. It is the easiest and most natural way to rebalance our body and soothe the mind.
Whether you enjoy painting, drawing, writing, or building websites, the act of creating has been shown to have significant physical and psychological benefits. In addition, singing and dancing have been shown to improve immunity, cognition, and social connection.
Laughter is another “built in” healing mechanism that has been shown to improve immunity, strengthen cardiovascular health, reduce depression and anxiety, enhance memory, and reduce stress. Similarly to smiling, the body cannot tell the difference between fake laughter and real laughter. Laughter Yoga and Laughter Meditation have also become increasingly popular ways to release stress and feel good.
7. Give Thanks
Gratitude is a powerful practice that can shift your perception and mood quickly. It has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, improve sleep, and predict better overall health. A simple daily gratitude practice can create lasting ripples of change throughout your life.
8. Get Outside
For most of us, our environment has drastically changed in the past 20 years. The air is not as clean, we find ourselves in the car more, and surrounded by buildings. Being in nature is a great way to lift your spirits and discharge stress. Research shows that getting out into nature can improve moods, release stress, and help us feel more connected to life.
Some scientists speculate than an increase of physical illness and mental health issues are directly connected to our disconnection with the Earth. Connecting to the Earth, which some refer to as “Earthing” has been shown to have enormous mental and physical health benefits. To see a fantastic article by the Chopra Center on the healing effects of Earthing click HERE. Get outside and put your feet in the grass!
9. Move Your Body
Researchers have known for many years that physical activity reduces anxiety and depression, improves physical health, and enhances overall quality of life. Physical activity releases chemicals in your body that help you to feel better and adapt to stress more effectively. Even walking inside a building boosts mood and helps facilitate engagement with life.
10. Eat Photonic Foods
A special type of photography called Kirlian Photography is able to give us a glimpse into the healing powers of food. This type of photography enables us to see the energy fields of plants, fruits, and vegetables among other things. In comparison to other foods, organic uncooked foods emit higher and more balanced forms of energy. To see an image of Kirlian Photography click HERE. To see a video on the difference between cooked vs. raw foods click HERE.
Our outside environment is often a reflection of our internal environment. A great way to feel refreshed and uplifted is to declutter or change around furniture. Decluttering has been shown to enhance concentration, boost creativity, and improve sleep. Purging belongings that we no longer need can bring feelings of relief and excitement for something new.
Social connection is a basic human need. Having friends can help improve your mood, health, and longevity. Consider reaching out to that old friend for a quick chat. Even though the phone may feel like it weighs 10,000 pounds, you will feel undoubtedly feel better afterwards.
Mindfulness programs are being implemented into almost every hospital system and mental health program in the country. Research has shown that mindfulness interventions boost mood, improve physical health, and reduce stress. The simple act of coming into the present moment helps you to disconnect from worrisome thoughts to reduce stress. Mindfulness can be as simple as taking 5 slow breaths or watching the trees blow in the wind.
14. Day Dreaming
Thinking about what you want in life can lift your spirit and generate hope. Many also believe that you can create the reality you experience through the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction is the belief that what you focus your attention on, and what you emit to the universe through the radiance of your emotions, returns to you and makes up your life experience. Oprah Winfrey credits her success to the Law of Attraction and continues to speak about it regularly. Watch a video of her interviewing Law of Attraction expert Abraham Hicks HERE.
15. Connect to Animals
Animals can add greatly to our life if we take the time to enjoy them. Animals move at the pace of nature and can help us to slow down, be present, and reduce stress. Oxytocin, the love hormone that reduces stress and anxiety, is released when we pet and connect with animals. They also teach us the lessons of unconditional love and genuine listening.
16. Self Mastery Tasks
Self-mastery tasks are small accomplishments that help boost mood and increase self-confidence. These tasks can be as simple as playing a game of Sudoku, completing a full coloring page, cooking a new recipe, or shooting a basket with a crumpled piece of paper. If we give ourselves small opportunities to succeed, we are more likely to trust ourselves during larger opportunities for success.
17. Honor Your Feelings
Many cultures promote “happiness” as normal leaving some people feeling broken or lost. The truth is, being human involves a broad range of emotional experiences, none of which are wrong or unhealthy. Just because you are feeling down does not necessarily mean that you need to fix it right away with distraction or medication. Pretending that the negative emotions don’t exist generally leads to greater distress. The best thing you can do is to honor whatever experience you are having and allow those emotions to be present. The bottom line is: what we resist persists, and what we allow transmutes and transforms.
18. Listen To Yourself
Life is moving very fast for most of us. Taking small moments of time throughout your day to listen to your body and spirit can help you to correct course before a crash. Take time to listen to your body and do what feels right despite the social pressures to do otherwise. If you feel like staying in tonight and going to bed early then do so. If you need a break from kids, reach out for support. If you need time off of work, take it. Life is too short and your body and spirit will begin to break down if you do not take the time to listen.
19. Eat Chocolate
Dark chocolate that is. Chocolate with high percentages of cacao can improve cardiovascular health, improve memory, and reduce stress. Cacao contains a chemical called anandamide, which is known to induce euphoria. Chocolate has also been known to open the heart, induce relaxation, and enhance connection with others.
20. Random Acts of Kindness
Research has shown that small acts of kindness can reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and increase happiness. When we are kind to others we also motivate others to do the same. Kindness can come in many forms including a smile, saying “hello”, or picking up something that someone has dropped. Imagine what the world would be like if we all focused on being kind to each other.
Many research studies have examined mediation and the benefits are numerous. There are several different types of meditation and there is not one form that is necessarily superior to others. Transcendental Meditation has the most research behind it but other meditative approaches have not adequately been researched due to lack of funding. Meditation can be as simple as paying focused attention to your breath or the movement of your body during walking or yoga. Most regular meditators report that meditation has drastically enhanced their lives.
Implementing just one of these items can lift your spirits and improve your life. If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness, meditation, or how to find balance and peace in your life, reach out to Dr. Starr MacKinnon at Flourish Counseling today or Follow Flourish on Facebook.