Hard times can take a toll on us, both mentally and emotionally. To prevent these times from creating chaos on our lives, it is up to us to take action to lift our moods and keep them boosted. There are steps we can take and things we can do so that we can continue to thrive during hard times instead of letting them get the best of us.
Why It’s Important to Be Deliberate About Boosting Mood
When times are difficult, it can be easy to fall into poor mental health. Evidence shows we become more susceptible to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. We are also much more likely to experience negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions and have more difficulties managing those thoughts, feelings, and emotions (Bradbury, 2020).
If we don’t take measures to boost our mood, these negative aspects can take root and grow becoming bigger and taking control of our lives. But by being deliberate about boosting our mood, we can essentially prevent these negative outcomes and regain control of our lives.
Ways to Boost Mood During Difficult Times
- Community: During times of hardship, having a group of people, whether friends or family, that you can rely on can go a long way for offering support. When you are surrounded by people who can be a listening ear, offer a shoulder to cry on, and/or provide practical help and assistance can help us to be happier and feel less stressed. In a recent study, an app was used by researchers to determine how much happier people were when with their friends, parents, and children.
The app sent alerts asking people to rate how happy they felt on an 11-point scale from “not at all” to “extremely” throughout the day. Via the analysis of more than 3 million submissions from more than 50,000 participants, researchers found that people experienced an 8% increase in happiness on average when with friends. The app also found a 1.4% increase in happiness among people when with their parents and a 0.7% increase in happiness when with their children (Brodwin, Orwig, & Spector, 2016).
You can obtain your support remotely via phone and video chat, so you can stay safe and still connect.
- Physical Activity: Engaging in some type of physical activity is another way to take a step towards boosting mood. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain shown to reduce stress hormones, decrease anxiety and depression, and enhance feelings of happiness. Researchers at the University of Vermont found that just 20 minutes of exercise can create mood-boosting benefits that last up to 12 hours. Their research also found that active people were generally more happy and satisfied with their lives (Brodwin, Orwig, & Spector, 2016).
- Meditation: Meditation is the practice of focusing intently for a set period of time. Numerous studies suggest that the act of meditating can help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression.
Research conducted among long-term meditators has hinted at a heightened sense of awareness and greater emotional control. All of this means improved levels of emotional consciousness and improved mood overall (Brodwin, Orwig & Spector, 2016).
- Gratitude: Practicing gratitude is a final way to be intentional about boosting mood during hard times. Psychologists at UC Davis reported in a recent study that there was a link between optimism and gratitude In the study, researchers had 3 groups of volunteers keep weekly journals focused on a single topic.
One group wrote about a major event, the second group wrote about hassles they experienced, and the third group wrote about things they were grateful for. After 10 weeks those in the group keeping the gratitude journal reported feeling more optimistic and satisfied overall than those in the other groups (Brodwin, Orwig, & Spector, 2016).
During hard times, we must be as proactive as we can be in order to combat the negative impacts that difficulties can create in our lives. When we take measures to boost our mood, we take care of our minds and emotions in a way that ensures overall mental health and wellness.
Bradbury, K. (2020, January 5). Getting through tough times. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/breathing-room/202001/getting-through-tough-times
Brodwin, E., Orwig, J., & Spector, D. (2016, August 4). Here are 25 habits that psychologists have linked with happiness. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/simple-ways-to-improve-your-mood-according-to-psychologists#10-make-time-for-friends-16