Reducing anxiety and improving your mood does not have to be hard and emotionally draining. Therapy and drugs are an option for some people. However, there are also lots of fun and positive things you can do to make yourself feel better as well.
Go outside more
Everyone is banging on the drum about exercise. There is a good reason for that: it helps your physical and mental health. Exercise also mimics the symptoms of anxiety, allowing you to see a racing heart and tight chest in a positive light.
What is often underappreciated, though, is that a large part of the benefit from exercise is simply going outside. Being in nature and seeing some greenery is beneficial in itself.
That means that the benefits of going out and exercise are not solely reserved for the super-fit: whether you are just taking a leisurely walk or even just sitting outside in the garden, your mood will be boosted.
Catch up with an old friend
Humans are social creatures by nature. We thrive on relationships with others. This is a double-edged sword. It is easy to worry about losing or damaging these relationships, which can lead us to experience social anxiety.
However, these feelings are usually in our heads. The truth is that other people like us and want to hear from us. When we have the courage to pick up the phone or go see an old friend, they are delighted to hear from us.
Interacting with people we like causes the body to release oxytocin, the "love" hormone, which makes us feel better.
Start writing daily gratitudes
When you are feeling anxious, it is easy to focus on all of the negative things in your life. Your mind will automatically lead you down this path. However, there are behaviours we can practise to reverse this.
One is writing a daily gratitude list: take a few minutes at the start or end of each day to write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. This could be big things like your health or your family, or it could be small things like the sun shining today or the bus being on time.
Taking the time to write things down helps shift the mind's attention onto positive thoughts, which makes you feel better.
Allocate more relaxation time
We often limit the amount of time we allow ourselves to spend relaxing because we feel it is unproductive or that we do not deserve it.
The problem with this attitude is that when we try and work all of the time, we sap our motivation and willpower. This leads to a self-paralysis of indecision and inaction.
In contrast, when we allocate ourselves some relaxation time, where we do not need to feel guilty about being kind to ourselves, we not only feel better, but we get more done. This is because we rebuild the willpower we need to tackle those hard tasks and therefore reduce the amount of time we spend doing nothing.
Put more love into meals
Whether you find cooking a chore or you really enjoy it, it is going to happen anyway. As humans, we need to eat, and we need to do it regularly. So why not commit to making it something you enjoy?
Diet is one of the most important factors in our mental health. When we each a healthy and varied diet, we reduce anxiety and depression and improve our mood.
Instead of preparing the quickest meal possible, put some time aside to explore new areas of cooking. Expand your repertoire of healthy and vegetarian food, commit to having fun in the kitchen and make it a goal to try new things.
The key to good mental health, reducing anxiety and improving your mood is designing a lifestyle that is healthy and engaging. Doing these things will not only make you feel better, but they are also fun to do, making them easier to follow through on.