The strain of everyday life can take a toll on your health and your game. But it doesn’t have to be hard to find pockets of joy to help elevate your frame of mind. Integrating these 5 simple tips can make it easy to improve your mood (in less than 5 minutes!) and boost your game.
Calming Breaths and a Quick Stretch
A very common strategy to help reduce anxiety and stress is to take calming breaths. When we stress out, our heart rate rises and we tend to not expand our lungs fully. Using breathing techniques popularized by yoga and meditation can help you expand your diaphragm and release built up tension. Studies show that meditative breathing can lower your heart rate, reduce blood pressure and adrenaline levels, while promoting positive emotions from the brain.
While you practice your breathing it can also be a good idea to get up and stretch–especially if you’ve been spending a lot of time at your desk finishing up assignments or in class. It’s important to get up and stretch your legs. Try doing a 3 second inhale while reaching down toward your feet, hold both your breath and the stretch at the bottom, then complete a 3 second exhale as you leave the stretch. Repeating this a few times each day can release any tension you might be holding in your back and legs, and this will help boost your mood.
Have a Two Minute Dance Party
Endorphins are the best way to produce a natural high, and exercise has been proven to help improve mental health. If you’re feeling down you might not have time for a full workout, but you can make time to get up and move for a couple minutes each day. Increasing your heart rate and getting your blood pumping will lift your mood.
One simple way to do this is to get up and dance. Put on your favorite song and just let loose. Studies have shown that listening to a happy song can boost positive emotions. The combination of a great, upbeat song and a quick, active increase in heart rate can help give you a happier outlook.
Count Your Blessings
Spend a couple minutes thinking about what you are grateful for. Drop the negative self-talk; focusing on your mistakes can have a real toll on your mental health. Shift your thinking to more positive topics by practicing gratitude.
This doesn’t have to be massive, grand things that are going right in your world–you can be thankful for the tiny things in life, too. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the negative, think of three things that you’re grateful for. It can be the way the sun is shining in through your window, or even something as small as completing a tough pass during a drill at practice. Even when you feel like everything is going wrong, there are always things in your life that you can be grateful for. Focusing on gratitude can increase your overall well-being.
Go Outside and Get Grounded
Sunshine can have a positive effect on your mood. Vitamin D is essential for proper mood regulation. Evidence shows that exposure to sunlight can help mental, physical and emotional health. A lack of sunlight can cause a serious decline in serotonin production making you upset and tired.
Going outside for a few minutes can help boost your mood naturally. If the weather permits, try grounding. Grounding is a beneficial act of walking around barefoot. Studies prove that grounding has been seen to decrease depressive moods and alleviate stress. It may seem silly, but spending a few minutes reconnecting with the Earth and enjoying the sunshine will have a positive effect on your overall outlook.
Do you remember the last time you laughed until you cried? Laughter–even fake laughter–can decrease stress hormones. A good joke causes a physical and neurological response that releases serotonin, dopamine and different types of endorphins.
Laughing has many short term and long term benefits. A good laugh can stimulate your organs, increase your oxygen intake, relieve your stress response and alleviate tension. In the long term it can help boost your immune system by increasing positive chemical release, relieving pain, and improving coping mechanisms.
Start off by forcing your mouth into a smile, already you are exercising different muscles in your face and releasing tension. Next just let out a chuckle. It will take a few fake ones until you’re able to realize how ridiculous you sound and then actually start laughing at yourself. Take inventory of how you feel after a couple minutes.
While these practices only require a few minutes of your day, they all require an open mind and a desire to feel better. Practicing these 5 easy tools to boost your mood will help you realize that you deserve happiness and that you can be in control of your emotions (which will absolutely help you in those high stakes moments of competition!)
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