When you come home feeling miserable – maybe you’ve had a row with someone, missed your bus, or had a tough day at work – it’s easy to let low mood take over.
That has a knock-on effect for the rest of your evening. You might be short-tempered with your partner or struggle to fall asleep with anxious thoughts racing around inside your head (we’ve all been there).
But there are plenty of simple ways to improve your mood and turn your evening around – even when you’ve had the day from hell.
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Some of them are quick pick-me-ups, others are good habits which will help you stay calmer in the long-run.
Be kind to yourself – self-care is important. It’s hard to take care of other people if you’re not looking after yourself.
How to instantly lift your mood
Listen to music
Plugging your headphones in and listening to some calming music is something you can do on your commute before you even get home. Alternatively, you can lie down on your bed or sofa when you get in and just allow yourself a few minutes to settle down.
Surprisingly, even sad music can make you feel better if you’re having a rough day. One recent study found that 76% or participants felt positive emotions after listening to a gloomy tune.
Watch some comedy
A study in 2017 found that laughter reduces levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine in the brain – help you to relax.
So you shouldn’t feel guilty about curling up on the couch and watching your favourite sitcom!
Embrace the hygge way
Despite its dark, freezing winters, Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world and a lot of that is down to hygge which loosely translates as ‘cosiness’.
Making your home more inviting can help you to unwind after a hectic day, providing a comfortable safe haven. Snuggle up under a blanket, make some hot chocolate and use lamps to make your living room darker. Light a couple of candles to set the mood too.
Take up a martial art
This might be a surprising suggestion, but practising a martial art such as judo can help to improve your concentration – keeping you focused on the present moment (much like mindfulness).
After a stressful day, it’s also a great way to blow off some steam.
Try orange and lavender aromatherapy oils
If you’re feeling anxious, orange or lavender oils could help you to calm down.
Studies carried out on dental patients in waiting rooms found that they were less worried when they could smell these scents.
Stroke a pet
Stroking a pet helps to release oxytocin (the ‘cuddle’ hormone) in the brain, making you feel calmer. It can help to lower your blood pressure too.
Eat some chocolate to boost your endorphins
Eating chocolate releases endorphins in the brain making you feel happier, especially dark chocolate. Opt for chocolate with with 70% cocoa solids for best results.
Write down your gratitudes
It’s all too easy to get hung up on the things that are making us miserable and forget the things that we actually love in our lives.
Writing a short list of gratitudes will help to remind you of the positive things in your life.
Meditate for five minutes
Spending a few minutes meditating when you get home can help you leave the stresses of the day behind and help to put you into relax mode.
While there are plenty of great meditation apps out there to help you manage anxiety, if you don’t fancy downloading a special app you can just find somewhere quiet to sit and focus on your breathing.
Like stroking a pet, hugging someone can help to release the oxytocin in your brain to improve your mood. Find someone who likes a cuddle!
Tidy up and declutter
Believe it or not, a cluttered living space can make you feel even more stressed. Take 10 minutes to do a quick tidy and make your home more orderly.
Take a warm bath or shower
A warm shower can sooth tight muscles and give you a sense of wellbeing. You can also spend a few minutes meditating in the bath or shower to make it even more relaxing.
Eat mood-boosting food
It’s amazing how much a good meal can improve your mood. How often have you found that you’re hungry rather than grumpy?
There are lots of great foods that can make your feel happier when you’re having a hard time.
Photos by rawpixel, Alisa Anton, Richárd Ecsedi, Simone van der Koelen, Simon Rae, Brooke Lark and by chuttersnap on Unsplash.