Don’t let rainy, dreary days get you down; try this instead
Gloomy, dreary days on the outside can make you feel down in the dumps on the inside. But did you know you can trick your brain into feeling happier, regardless of the weather? It's as easy as your ABCs.
Act, Belong, Commit
A simple way to trick your brain into feeling happier is with one simple act, smiling.
"Research has found that the muscles in your face register when you're smiling, and it sends a signal to your brain to say, 'Hey, I think you're happy.' Holding [a smile] for a while can trick people into feeling happy and also make them laugh at themselves," explained Dr. Saunia Ahmad, director and clinical psychologist at the Toronto Psychology Clinic.
Try smiling in the mirror every morning, even if it's forced. You could trigger the real thing.
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Belong. Face-to-face communication with a friend, coworker, or even someone passing by can dramatically improve our moods.
"It doesn't always need to be what we call a strong-tie connection—someone that you're very closely or intimately related with. Even a weak-tie connection, like someone that you may pass in the park or someone you see in your office building... we are humans, and we need social connection more than sometimes we realize," explained Onor Hanreck-Wilkinson with the Happiness Research Institute.
Try communicating with others daily, even for a short period of time. Striking up a 5-minute conversation—a quick conversational interaction—can make someone feel a greater sense of community and belonging.
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Commit. Do something that provides purpose and meaning.
"Some of us really derive meaning from caring for others, whether family or friends; others from religion," Hanreck-Wilkinson continued. "Put that pair of glasses on, like, what does meaning look like in your life? Then pursuing an activity where you know that derives meaning from you."
When someone commits to helping others, even with a simple task, they often feel better about themselves in return.
While taking initiative to ease the burdens of others is important, it’s just as crucial to commit to positive self-talk. It's common for people to be kind to others but forget to be kind to themselves, said Dr. Ahmad.
"When you are in a good mood, when you're in a good place, pay attention to how you're talking to yourself and pay attention to any affirmations that you're giving yourself and write it down. The best affirmations are the ones that you've come up with for yourself," explained Dr. Ahmad.
No matter the weather, it's important to take care of your mental health. So remember, practice your ABCs and smile often, even if it's just for yourself.
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Thumbnail image credit: Getty Images/stock photo.