Winter months are tough enough on mental health without the threat of a growing global pandemic looming overhead.
And, seeing as your mind and body are so intrinsically connected, when the health of one starts to fail, the other can deplete right along with it.
“Your physical health is intimately connected with your mental health,” explained Dr. Mike Varshavski, a board-certified physician in New York City. “So, if you’re feeling down for a very long period of time, (physical) symptoms can show up, like high blood pressure, low back pain and even heartburn.”
To help combat the negative health impacts of these tough times, here are Dr. Mike’s top “happy hacks” to help boost your mood.
1. Bump those beats
“Science has actually proven that music can lower your stress levels, and depending on the type of music you’re listening to, it can have different effects,” Dr. Mike explained. “For example, I struggle with getting hyped up for the gym, so I throw on a little Travis Scott to get me in the zone.”
2. Dance like no one’s watching
“I’m a terrible dancer. I’m going to admit that,” Dr. Mike continued. “But I’m incredibly enthusiastic because I know that dancing relieves tension. In fact, if you do it with a partner, it can boost your mood even more.”
3. Connect with nature
“There’s actually a growing field of medicine called ecotherapy that has proven spending time in nature naturally reduces anxiety levels,” Dr. Mike revealed.
“If you live in a concrete jungle like I do, you could bring nature to you and listen to some nature sounds,” he added.
4. Write down three good things
“This has been scientifically proven to decrease feelings of depression and elevate your mood for a significant period of time,” Dr. Mike said. “All you have to do at the end of every day for two weeks is write down three good things that happened and why they happen.”
“What that does is it retrains your brain to think about the positives and not only the negatives,” he continued. “That’s what our minds are accustomed to doing. Let’s break out of that habit.”
5. Challenge your inner critic
“Part of the human condition is that we have negative, irrational thoughts about ourselves, but the way we rise above them is to jot them down,” Dr. Mike explained. “Once we do that, we can replace them with rational substitutes. When we do that, we take the power back for ourselves and allow us to rise above them and do better.”
Watch the video above to learn more.
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