Just one minute is all it takes to turn your mood around. We instinctively know this to be true, but would rather mull our doldrums over until our bodies start to react, asking for help in physical, apparent ways—acne, stomach aches, migraines. Yet just as easily as it is to get mired in a negative feeling, an unpleasant memory or a regrettable mistake, so too is it to turn things around, if only we will let it.
On a particularly trying—and warm—lockdown day, a friend called just in the nick of time. “Wait,” she said, as I was about to start ranting. “What’s that playing in the background?”
I laughed as I started telling her—Nick Cave, Interpol, Joy Division, more post-punk misery.
“Try something happier,” she said matter-of-factly. And just like that, with a little help from Earth, Wind & Fire, I found my mood lightening instantly and my conversation with my friend centring on other things other than my petty grievances.
We were about to end the call when I felt the urge to complain again. “It’s so warm,” I started.
Indi wouldn’t have any of it. “Take a cold shower,” she said. “You’ll feel better.” Potential doldrum abetted.
If you’re having a down day, try any or all of these instant one-minute practical wonders. They’ve been tried and tested to turn your mood around like the flick of a switch.
1. Switch Your Playlist
Make sure your background music isn’t what’s causing your mood to turn blue. The genre isn’t the point, more what you do or don’t enjoy—if Goth brings a smile to your face, go for it.
2. Sing The Blues Away
Science backs this up. When you sing, you stimulate the vagus nerve around the throat area, physically helping to relieve any stress or sadness.
3. Do Nothing
Start the timer for one minute, close your eyes and do absolutely nothing. Don’t put any labels to this minute—it’s not necessarily a meditation. Let your thoughts come and go as they please. The minute will be up before you know it and there is some lift and lightness when you open your eyes.
4. Get Off Social Media
If you find yourself reaching for the phone, again, set the timer to one minute and resist the urge. You’ll be surprised at how much happier you’ll become without having to go through the usual stressors—the news, the posts etc.
Get up and walk somewhere. Whether it’s to the pantry and back for your coffee at work or the luxury of a downward dog pose at home, just break from sitting sedentary or lying down and get moving.
6. Wash Your Hair
This will take more than a minute but if you’re working from home and there’s a particular conundrum you’re facing, take five and give your hair a wash. By doing so, you’re psyching yourself up to washing the tangles—both metaphorical and literal—away.
7. Pet Something
Try this with something luxuriously soft—a plush, textured cushion at work or your pet at home. The Qoobo is an award-winning therapy robot that emulates pet therapy for those allergic to pet fur.
8. Alternate Nostril Breathing
Get on YouTube and look through the countless videos on how to do this. Alternate nostril breathing doesn’t just help clear the sinuses, it really helps with restoring balance while stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system.
9. Mind Your Posture
Being aware of how you’re sitting or standing makes a huge difference to your mood. Florida Atlantic University has discovered that walking tall with an upbeat stride and heads held high feels happier in an instant.
10. Get Outside
Some fresh air and sunshine, even if it’s out to grab some coffee, helps tremendously. Your retinas, cued by sunlight, trigger the brain to increase serotonin in your body while the Vitamin D sunlight provides can only do your body good. Meanwhile, fresh air helps increases the flow of oxygen needed to digest your food, improve your blood circulation and heart rate, and keeps your energy up.