When it comes to improving our mood, we often think about doing something fun or engaging in a number of healthy activities. However, we don’t often consider the other, less-obvious factors in our environment that can play a role in our mood state. Something like the decor in your living room may not be on your mind as something that can make you cranky, but many things in our everyday lives can help us feel more cheery or even make us feel more glum, even if you’re not aware of it.
“We are sensitive to mood because our feeling states are deeply connected to our thoughts, behavior, other’s behaviors, feelings, and body health,” says Maria Sirois, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health over email. “All is interconnected and often people experience shifts in one arena will have an impact on mood.”
You may not realize how sensitive you are to your environment, but there are a number of subtle factors that can effect your happiness levels, and knowing what they are can help you improve your everyday emotions. If you want to be in the best mood possible, consider these 11 surprising things that can have an impact on how you feel.
Colors can affect how you feel, so you may want to consider repainting your walls. Blue colors are typically associated with being centered, calm and hopeful, while red is invigorating and active, according to multiple studies.
2. The Weather
Do you feel glum on gloomy days? It’s not just in your head. Sunlight provides you with serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter, so without sunshine, your happiness levels might be lower. Extreme hot and cold temperatures can also cause lethargy, leaving you feeling unmotivated and uninspired, according to Yale University.
If you’re not drinking enough water, you may find yourself feeling down. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that even mild dehydration caused moodiness, problems concentrating, headaches, and fatigue.
4. Social Media
One study from Cornell University and Facebook found that changing people’s news feeds had an effect on their mood: When your friends are happy, you’re more likely to be happy, and vice versa. However, on the flip side, other research from the University of Michigan found that going on Facebook frequently makes you sadder and less satisfied.
5. Your Posture
How you sit at your desk may not seem that important, but research shows that sitting in a slumped position makes you feel more “fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish,” while sitting up straight is associated with higher self-esteem, less social fear and fewer negative emotions, according to a study from Health Psychology. “Moving your body in a specific direction, such as taking a power pose or putting a smile on your face has shown to elevate mood,” says Sirois.
6. Your Partner’s Mood
“Whether we know it consciously or whether its unconscious, we have a laser-sharp radar to tune into and absorb our partner’s vibes,” says psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish in an interview with Bustle over email. “People are part of our environment. It is important to recognize this and surround ourselves with positive energy — our own and that of those we are intimately involved with.
7. Physical Space
“Many folks don’t realize how affected they are by the actual measurements and layout of their environment,” says Walfish. Research from the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture has found that light, space, and room layout affect physical and psychological well-being. “Make the most out of your physical space. If you know you need an open, bright feeling to be happy try sleeping with your blinds and drapes wide open allowing the morning sunshine to pour in.”
“It may surprise you to know that too cold a room temperature can constrict a person’s muscles and put them in an anxious mood,” says Walfish. “On the reverse, too warm/hot a room temperature can create fatigue and bring your mood down in the dumps. Keep room temperature at a comfortable moderate level to relax your muscles and allow you to be ‘in the moment.’”
9. Your Birth Control Pill
Birth control definitely has its perks, but unfortunately it can come with some negative side effects. One study from Monash University found that women on the birth control pill are twice as likely to be depressed as women who aren’t on it, likely a result of hormonal changes.
10. Lack Of Sleep
Most of us have experienced that crankiness after a night of poor sleep. Research from the journal Sleep has found that people who are sleep deprived report feeling less friendly, elated, and empathic, and report a generally lower positive mood.
11. Your Diet
Your diet plays a role in your mental health. For instance, one study published in the journal PLoS One found that people who ate a diet high in processed foods and sugar were more likely to have depression. Other foods high in nutrients such as berries, nuts, and chocolate can help improve your mood, according to multiple studies.
Creating an ideal environment for yourself and picking up good habits can help encourage positive moods and decrease your stress.
by Carina Wolf