Raising Your Spirits - Things to Do to Lift Your Mood

Expert Author Margaret Cranford
In this article I am not talking about clinical depression, as medical advice should always be sought if you are truly depressed. I am talking about low moods within the normal range of emotions which everyone experiences at some time, and which you can do something about.
There are many ways to lift your mood, ranging from some simple quick fixes such as listening to the right music, through to developing a new way of looking at life.
For an easy mood lifter, get busy. Physical exercise can work like magic. A good walk or bike ride in the fresh air, swimming, a round of golf, a gym, yoga or pilates session are all likely to make us happier. You can get busy at home too, as gardening, clearing out a wardrobe, cleaning the bathroom or washing the car work well too, so long as you don't resent the activity as a chore. Focus on the use of muscle, lungs and coordination, and the fact your body is working, and you will find increased contentment.
If you are less able to get out and about, an activity such as writing, knitting, painting works well too. While the physical benefits are much reduced, the mental focus on achieving something worthwhile rather than on the cause of the low mood gives you a mental and emotional break and provides positive action and thought. I paint, take photographs and write, and I am always more cheerful the busier I am.
Volunteering is excellent. It may take a while to find a suitable activity or organization and to get your volunteering established, but I thoroughly recommend voluntary work. It gets you out of the house, doing something constructive, quite often helping people or improving the environment. Not only does this help you to look out to the world rather than in to your own problems, but you are being of real help, with the added bonus of meeting new people, and learning new things.
Which takes me to the benefits of learning something. This could be a regular class, where you learn a language, a skill to improve your employment prospects, or a craft, or it could be something you do at home. Find out what classes are available in your local area. However, it doesn't have to be a class. Re-discover your local library, or use the internet to find inspiration. Learn to make your own pasta or bread, learn to knit, to grow plants, to repair furniture or fix your bike, and you are engrossed in a worthwhile activity with a worthwhile result.
In the longer term, there are things to think about that will help you to develop a more permanent positive mood.
Think about things in a positive way. By this I mean not focusing on the 'poor me' aspects of your situation, but on working out what is important to you. Look outward to try to gain more understanding of the world and your place in it. Find the value in the non-materialistic, and you are more likely to be in a good mood. Develop your inner life - your spirituality. How you do this will depend on your personal circumstances and interests, but focus on the aspects of life that don't revolve around possessions and the need for money. Appreciate your family, friends, the natural world, making things and being involved in the community and you are more likely to be content. The alternative, craving material things, needing money to spend on clothes, expensive nights out and expensive holidays means you will be striving for things that don't really matter and also living beyond your financial means. You are almost guaranteed to be miserable.
I will finish with two observations. Don't think you are entitled to be happy, and that if you aren't happy it is someone else's fault. Happiness grows from within, and from leading a life that gives you fulfillment and the opportunity to grow as a person.
Choose your friends wisely. Cultivate friendships with those who have a healthy attitude to life, who are busy, happy with the simple things in life and who offer genuine friendship.

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