We spend a lot of our time looking for ways to chill out, and that’s great. A low-stress lifestyle is the cornerstone of optimal functionality, going hand in hand with quality sleep … we typically can’t have one without the other. But what about those moments where our mood needs a shift that isn’t necessarily into ultra-chill mode?
Our days demand a lot from us. We have to be a different kind of “on” at varying intervals throughout the day, whether that does involve being “chill,” or calm, such as having patience with kids or colleagues or winding down for the night, or maybe we need to be motivated to complete a project or get some errands, or chores, or a workout in. Sometimes we just feel off and want to feel happy, simple as that.
We can plan actions to set ourselves up for the mood and momentum (or lack thereof) we want to shift into. These little hacks are easy, typically fit into a regular daytime routine, and can make a major impact on the way we feel in a short period of time. Here are some modes we need to shift into, and how to get there.
When we’re feeling in an energy slump, whether that’s physical, like from lack of sleep, or emotional, like we are just overextended, these tricks can help get our brain into action.
A cold shower: Even if you’re not a cold shower person, a “cold-out,” aka a cold rinse of about 30 seconds to two minutes, will be like a cup of coffee for your lymph and circulatory systems.
Solo dance party: We recommend 10 minutes, but if you only have time for one song, that’ll do. Music carries vibrations, and vibrations can totally manipulate the way you feel. Just think of spa music—there’s a reason Slipknot or Diplo aren’t blasting while you get your massage. Listen to an upbeat tune and let yourself dance around and get that blood flowing—studies say it can even boost interpersonal and cognitive skills.
While as a nation we are predisposed to many mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, we don’t always have to be categorically depressed to be straight-up sad, or even just meh. To turn that frown-ish situation upside down, try these:
Cardio: Legally Blonde made sure we all understand how endorphins work, and if that flies in a court of law, it must be factual. Right? Right. The endorphins we get from a cardio workout (anything from a super-intense HIIT workout to just a brisk walk around the block) chemically boost those happiness hormones, so we don’t even have to think about it. What, like it’s hard?
Journaling or drawing: Including but not limited to these two emotion-focused self-regulation practices, about 30 minutes of a free practice like this that has no real goals or expectations, just flowing and having fun, can totally alter the funk you’re in. If journaling is your jam, kick it up a notch and try listing some things you’re grateful for.
Hacks to move into a state of calm should be in anyone’s arsenal, no exception. We can’t function reasonably or optimally, mentally or physically, when we are in a serious state of stress and duress, so regulating our minds and bodies is the first order of business.
Grounding: If chronic stress feels like it’s an embedded part of your lifestyle, make sure to ground at least once a week. Grounding practices you can do at home are great, but be sure to get out in nature at least one time per week, whether that’s walking barefoot at the park near your house for 10 minutes one morning before work, or planning a hike on the weekend.
Breathwork: Not just for the kundalini aficionados, breathwork is incredibly effective, transformative, and available to us all. Try five minutes of box breathing—inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold the out-breath for four counts. Your cortisol will plummet.
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