Tough times are inevitable, and even though you are always moving forward, sometimes it can feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Whether it seems like life’s circumstances are piling up against you, your mind can’t get through a mental block, or your emotions are paralyzing you, there is always hope. It does take some effort, but when you are ready to make a shift and lift your spirits into a state of optimism and forward movement, try one of these 10 tried-and-true methods for improving your energy and mood.
1. Try Yoga
Whether you do a few postures at home, or go to a public yoga class at your favorite studio, practicing some yoga poses will shift your state for the better. By connecting to your breath and the felt sensations in your body, you redirect your focus toward the present moment. Yoga also affects your nervous system, relieving stress and enhancing the flow of vital energy. So whether you feel lethargic and need an energetic boost, or you feel anxious and need to calm down, yoga can help.
If you need to get your energy flowing, try some sun salutations with ujjayi breathing. If you have a build-up of nervous energy, try staying low to the ground with some cat-cow poses and low lunges. Not sure what to do? Go to a yoga class. Being around other people will also fulfill the natural need for social connection, and will likely improve your mood.
How to Practice Cat-Cow
This grounding pose stretches the lower spine, hips, back, and core muscles. It also opens the chest and lungs, helping you to breathe more easily.
- Come to your hands and knees in tabletop pose. Your knees are should be hip-width apart, your hands shoulder-width apart, and your back straight yet relaxed.
- Inhale as you look up, bringing your chest forward.
- Exhale as you round your back, bringing your chin to chest.
- Repeat a few rounds of inhalations and exhalations, noticing how your body feels.
2. Go for a Walk
Taking even a short walk benefits not only your physical body, but your mind and spirit too. Being in nature has been shown to improve your mood, and getting your heart pumping by walking or jogging improves health, happiness, and overall well-being. Walking has also been linked to improved cognitive function, so if you are up against a deadline at work or are have a big decision to make, a simple walk can yield massive results. Whether you walk slowly and meditatively, or go for a power walk around the block, you will shift your mood and your perspective.
3. Shake It Out
Turn on your favorite tune and take a dance break! Try creating a mood-boosting playlist of songs and dance alone in your living room or bedroom to shake things up. Physical activity of any kind helps to bring mental clarity and an increase in energy, and dancing to music also boosts your endorphins. Research has shown that people who regularly dance to music have higher self-reported levels of well-being and happiness. try taking three-and-a-half-minute dance breaks throughout your day to lift your spirits. Here are a few song suggestions:
- “Shake It Out,” by Florence + the Machine
- “Rock Your Body,” by Justin Timberlake
- “Canned Heat,” by Jamiroquai
- “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” by Shakira and Freshlyground
4. Enjoy a Guided Meditation
Oftentimes, feeling stuck and overwhelmed can make you want to avoid your meditation cushion altogether. Meditation, however, is likely just the thing you need to settle your mind and see through your mental fog. If sitting in silence feels like too much of a leap for you, try a guided meditation. There are apps that offer guided meditations(like Calm, Insight Timer, and Headspace), and, of course, many incredible meditations from the Chopra Center that will pull you up and out of your funk.
Guided meditations help to redirect your mind, promote acceptance, and induce feelings of calm and inner peace, and you can find ones with specific themes to speak to what you are feeling as well. The next time you feel called to social media or a TV show out of boredom, try a guided meditation instead.
5. Read Something Uplifting
You likely have multiple books on your shelf that would uplift and inspire you. It’s time to take one down and crack it open. You can either start at the beginning or dip into it by opening a page at random. The universe always provides just what you need, if you are willing to open your eyes and see it. Another option is to read an uplifting article or a blog on your favorite website. Say a little prayer that the perfect message makes its way to you, and see what happens.
6. Try Something New
You may feel stuck because the days all start to seem the same after a while. If you find yourself in a rut, switch up your routine and try something new. Go see a funny movie by yourself, visit a local tourist attraction as if you were a visitor in your town, or try out a new form of exercise, like spinning, tennis, or cardio dance. Trying something new not only expands your horizons, but also causes your brain to produce a surge of dopamine, the “reward and anticipation” neurochemical that makes you feel good as it increases the experience and duration of positive emotions. You also get the satisfaction of surprising yourself and challenging your own status quo.
When you are feeling stuck, it helps to remember that you are not alone. Spending time in prayer and contemplation draws you closer to the God of your understanding, which for many people provides comfort and hope in dark times. Prayer can help you to find compassion, forgiveness, and optimism. If you feel stuck or down, ask for what you want. Pray for change and guidance, and for the clarity to know how to move forward in your life.
8. Clean Up and Beautify Your Space
It sounds simple, but cleaning up your physical environment can have an enormous effect on your productivity and mental outlook. Take a moment right now to look around your space—is there clutter? Is your home or office a mess? Is your space visually appealing? Take some time to not only declutter your space, but also to add some items of beauty, like a single flower in a vase or a bowl of fresh fruit. As happiness expert, Gretchen Rubin says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm.”
9. Write It Out
Sometimes you feel stuck because your mind is swirling with to-do lists or self-sabotaging thought patterns. By putting pen to paper, you give yourself the opportunity to express your feelings, look at the contents of your mind, and work through what is making you feel stuck. If you feel overwhelmed with tasks, writing a list will show you exactly what there is to do, which is often not as urgent or intimidating as it seemed when it was in your mind. There is tremendous power in putting pen to paper, so open (or start) a journal and get it all out.
10. Take Charge of Your Schedule
You are in charge of how you spend your time, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. If you are stuck in the same routine, try altering your schedule by looking at it with fresh eyes. Assess how you spend each day by looking at the balance of home, work, relationships, self-care, recreation, downtime, and the other important categories in your life. Just because you have been doing things a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever.
- What would happen if you went to the gym before work instead of after work?
- What if you added a midday walk to your lunch hour?
- Could you schedule a coffee date with your best friend every month?
- What about scheduling a staycation or a weekend getaway or retreat?
Remind yourself that you are in control, and then make something happen.
The first step to lifting yourself out of a rut is to recognize that you are in one. If you feel like you need some forward movement in your life, it only takes the willingness to act. Even the smallest gesture toward growth and improvement can yield significant results, so try something on this list right now and take control of how you feel.