When I have a blue day, I know that if I look for reasons I feel blue, I’ll find them.
Years ago, if I felt sad when I woke up in the morning, I would ask myself why and then run through a list of reasons that might make me sad. And then I’d wonder why I felt worse.
Now, if I feel sad when I wake up and ask myself the same question, I say, ‘who cares?’
So whilst I know that when I leave the feeling alone, it passes, it’s still good to have a few instant ways to lift my mood.
1. Ask for something you don’t think you’ll get
If you aren’t likely to get it, why would doing this make you happy?
Because if you aren’t expecting to get something, the act of daring to ask for it can make you laugh.
I had an NLP teacher years ago who encouraged the group to do just this at the end of the day’s training. To go into a bike repair shop and ask for a sausage sandwich or a Chinese restaurant and ask for a burger.
You get the picture.
Not everyone did the task. It feels scary, which is ridiculous as the shop owner is hardly likely to kneecap you for asking.
The idea is to help you to notice your internal narrator telling you not to do it and to notice where the feeling of hesitation and fear comes from, which is, of course, that pesky internal narrator.
If you go into a butcher’s shop and ask for stamps, your heart will beat out of your chest as you wait in the queue, but the amazing thing is that afterwards, you’ll be as exhilarated as if you’ve done a skydive.
You’ll have a sense of freedom and a feeling that you can do anything.
2. Look for as many red things as you can find in a day
Or blue or pink if you want.
The idea is to focus your mind and practice peripheral vision.
Most of us wander through our day, seeing what is in front of us, although some don’t even see what is in front.
Some of us focus on the films we create in our heads rather than what is on the outside, and we don’t notice half of what is happening around us.
The coloured items can be in your home, maybe a book on a shelf or a car on the road outside. Don’t look for items like a treasure hunt but notice them when you’re getting on with your day.
Focusing on finding as many red, blue or green items as possible, you can even put a number on in so that you have a sense of achievement when you’ve reached your target, giving you a lift.
You’ll feel happy that you’ve stretched yourself even on a simple task like this.
3. Text a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to for a while and tell them you love them.
How often have you heard someone say they never got to tell someone how they felt?
We all act like there is infinite time to let someone know how we feel, as if everyone has an allotted 90-year lifespan, even though we know this isn’t the case.
Telling someone how you feel and sharing the love will make you happier because it stimulates oxytocin, which is often called the love chemical.
Some of the effects of oxytocin are feelings of love towards others which help you to feel positive and increase your sense of happiness.
4. Look into a mirror with love
Sadly, this is a tricky one for some people.
Years ago, I worked with the hypnotist Paul McKenna on his ‘I Can Make You Thin’ days, and one of the practices that participants were encouraged to do was a mirror exercise.
The idea is that you imagine looking into a full-length mirror through the eyes of someone who loves you. This can be a partner, a parent, a child or even a dog.
Look at yourself through their eyes and see what they see.
Most of the time, when we look into a mirror, we immediately focus on the bits we don’t like.
We look at our big bum or flappy arms. You might think that you’re overweight or look old. Not many people look in the mirror and notice their beautiful smile or lovely eyes, but when someone who loves you looks at you, this is what they see.
If you look into a mirror and concentrate on what you think is wrong with you, how do you expect to go out and have a good day?
Looking into a mirror through the eyes of love will lift your mood, and you’ll go about your day feeling much happier.
5. Smile at everyone you see
When you smile, not only do you feel better, but the people around you feel better as well.
A smile can change the mood of those around you for the better.
When you see someone smile, your brain automatically notices and interprets their facial expression and often mimics them.
So you unconsciously smile in response to someone else’s smile.
And studies have shown that when someone smiles at you, it activates the pleasure centres in your brain. This is because smiling is contagious; seeing someone smile automatically puts you in a good mood.
When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too.
Endorphins act as mild pain relievers, whereas serotonin is an antidepressant.
A smile can do wonders for your mood and overall health. For starters, it triggers the release of feel-good neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters can improve your mood and make you feel happier.
6. Look up when you walk
It’s important to keep an eye on where you put your feet when you’re out, but mostly, you can trust yourself to spot the banana skin on the floor.
Yet, we spend our time looking down. Not at potential traps to trip us but because we’re in our heads thinking about other things and other places.
So just for a change, look up. You don’t have to walk along, craning your neck and bumping into anyone in front of you, but just raise your eyes.
Take a good look at the sky, at the clouds. Or, if you’re in town, look at the buildings you pass. Have you ever taken a look at anything above your eye line?
You might notice carvings on old buildings, crenellated walls or unusual windows.
Looking up and noticing what’s around you will pop you out of your habitual thoughts, and you’ll feel instantly more relaxed.
And who isn’t happier when they’re relaxed?
You might notice the blue sky and then notice that you’re not feeling blue anymore.