4 Elements to Elevate your Mood

4 Elements to Elevate your Mood
The days are getting shorter, the weather is gloomy and winter is around the corner. All the more reason to take good care of ourselves; to not only put on that extra layer to keep us warm but to pay attention to how we feel. Here are the 4 Must Do’s to keep our mood up and prevent the winter blues:

1. Oooommm. 
Research in neuroscience shows that while a person meditates, the brain activity shifts from the right, stress-prone frontal cortex to the left. This shift in brain activity leaves us more calm and happy. An easy 15-20 minutes per day is already enough. The best time to meditate is in the morning before the day has tired us out. Challenge yourself to a timeframe of 7 consecutive weeks. This is how long it takes for a new activity to become a habit. And once it’s a habit it’s easy to keep going.
2. Move it.
We don’t need to go crazy on the treadmill. Research shows that aerobic exercises of 30 minutes, about 4 times per week will have a positive effect on our physical and mental health. Again, the clues can be found in our brain. Depression or a depressive state causes a blockage of neurotransmitters in the brain. The resulting lack of communication within the brain can easily leave us in a negative loop, unable to find our way out (to a positive perception of the world). Exercise however, increases the production of a protein which in return helps the neurotransmitters to do their job again.
3. Snooze. 
The seemingly easiest and most cost efficient benefit for our health. But for some of us it is so hard to get enough of it. If possible, make yourself go to bed early (before midnight), and give yourself a good 7-8 hours of sleep per night. You will very soon see the benefits. While a lack of sleep can contribute to a depression, sufficient rest can increase our emotional stability. Everything is connected: exercise tires us out and supports a good sleep – and when we are well rested we will be fitter.
4. Hug it out. 
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” (Virginia Satir, family therapist). Even a brief hug will boost our oxytocin level, a hormone often called “the love hormone”. Holding a hug for a longer time can increase the production of serotonin, a hormone that is known to improve our mood and boost self-esteem. The healing, relaxing and nurturing power of a hug cannot be underestimated. It reduces the stress level, makes us feel loved and welcomed – and keeps us warm in winter.
By Gur Schoeneberg, MSc
Psychologist & Director