Stay home. Don’t go out. Don’t travel. Do only the essentials. Keep six feet of distance between yourself and others. If you didn’t understand the context of these orders, they would seem incredibly odd. They would also seem like a perfect recipe for confusion, stress, loneliness, and generally feeling blue.
But these are the days of a pandemic. We are in the midst of something most of us have likely never experienced before – and hopefully won’t ever again.
This is the new reality, and social distancing is what we must do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, we don’t have to succumb to feeling blue. Here are three quick and easy ways to boost your mood:
1. Offer A Little Kindness
“Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” says Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at Iowa State University.
In a study comparing three strategies to lift mood, Gentile and his colleagues found those who practiced loving-kindness or wished others well felt happier, more connected, caring and empathetic, as well as less anxious (Gentile et al., 2019).
Kindness is a simple strategy that is equally available to us all. We are all capable of offering a kind word, a smile, or our time to help another. And when we do, we are helping ourselves feel better too.
Laughter, especially social laughter, increases endorphins in the brain, which, according to researchers may be an important pathway that supports formation, reinforcement, and maintenance of social bonds between humans (Manninen et al., 2017).
“The pleasurable and calming effects of the endorphin release might signal safety and promote feelings of togetherness,” explains Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Turku PET Centre, the University of Turku.
And even more compelling, laughter seems to work in a sort of virtuous cycle, where the more we laugh, the more opioid receptors we develop, which then increases our ability to find more joy and more laughter.
If you are feeling blue, simply hold a smile for seven seconds (even a completely forced smile) and you will feel better. You may even find yourself laughing (at yourself!). It’s a quick and easy way to “trick” your brain into releasing endorphins and finding happiness. 🙂
3. Revisit A Resolution
Completing things that you set out for yourself comes with feelings of satisfaction, increased serotonin levels, and for some people, increased endorphin levels. And we all have things that we want to do, or wanted to do in the past, and have not been able to accomplish. So why not take the time now to revisit them?
Think about what you’d like to accomplish, make a plan, incorporate commitment strategies to keep yourself on track, enlist the help of some family or friends if needed and reach those long-lost goals. Instead of New Years resolutions, just call them “Quarantine resolutions.”
With a little kindness, laughter, and some commitment to reach our goals, the effects of social distancing can be mitigated. And who knows, we might even reach some goals we have always wanted to. No more feeling blue.
Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:
Finding Happiness: Positive Interventions in Therapy is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that explores the concept of happiness, from common myths to the overriding factors that directly increase our feelings of contentment. Click here to learn more.
Leveraging Adversity: Turning Setbacks into Springboards is a 6-hour online continuing education (CE) course that gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients face adversity from a growth perspective and learn how to use setbacks to spring forward, and ignite growth. Click here to learn more.
Psychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events. Click here to learn more.
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