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There are many things in life that can contribute to making you feel down. Everyone’s life is full of waves: times when the ride feels smooth and times when the ride feels choppy. One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to learn ways to support yourself so that you can feel a sense of calm and contentment more often, even in the midst of many waves of energy. Of course, seek guidance from your doctors and Ayurvedic specialists so they can help you deal with your specific needs, especially if you are noticing your mood is often low and it’s hard to feel content or at ease.
1. Redefine “comfort food.”
Sometimes the phrase “comfort food” is thought of as bad for one’s health. Often in the United States, “comfort food” seems to be thought of as the opposite to “healthy food.” This is not necessarily true.
Instead of cutting out what you think of as comfort food, can you view more foods as comfort food? Can you begin to see anything you put into your body as meant to be comforting, nourishing, and worth smiling about? There’s nothing wrong with eating and feeling comforted by the food you eat, when you eat well. Eating can boost your mood and make you feel better. Eating well makes it easier for you to see life clearly, be in the present moment, and think of ways to deal with life’s challenges. According to Ayurveda, when you eat right for your type and in the right amount, food is medicine. It gives you mental and physical energy, and this will help stabilize mood swings. Even when you eat foods that cause imbalance, enjoy that food, too, as you eat it. It will make it easier to digest food well when you enjoy eating.
Also, hydrate yourself with warm water throughout the day, and control your portion size. Then you will find that eating what you need will make you feel very well. If you have been eating poorly for a while, it might take some time to get your body on track, and once you do, you will be able to brighten your mood by eating well. This supports your health and mood in the short and long run.
2. Balance your energy.
Sometimes a mood brightener doesn’t have to be something stimulating. Shifting your energy from a bit gloomy or a little frustrated can be as simple as a calming Tree Pose. When you practice this pose you increase your focus, strength, balance, grace, and lightness. You also get blood moving in the body, which will really help your mood if you’ve been sitting for a while.
- Come into standing, and hold on to the back of a chair if you need to, for balance.
- Feel your feet rooting into the earth. Engage the leg muscles, and feel your spine elongate as you imagine the crown of your head lifting toward the ceiling.
- Exhale, and shift your weight onto the left leg, notice how solid and sturdy that leg is.
- Inhale, engage the abdomen muscles, and lift the right foot off the floor and place your right foot against your left knee to make a triangle. Keep your pelvis facing forward. If you can’t comfortably lift your foot all the way to your knee, do not push it. Simply rest it against your calf.
- Breathe normally, and fix your gaze on a point in front of you. Keep your gaze steady and soft.
- Bring your awareness to the strength of the left leg, the softness of your gaze, and the joy of balancing.
- Bring your hands straight up over your head. Breathe in and out, for several breaths. Bring your hands straight up over your head.
- Replace the right foot on the ground.
After doing Tree Pose, notice how you feel. Do you notice a difference in one side of the body or the other? After pausing to notice the effects of Tree Pose, do the pose on the other side.
When you do Tree Pose, be light about it. It isn’t a contest. If you can’t stay balanced, it’s okay. If it’s not easy the first time or second time, it’s okay; it will get easier. The goal is to practice coming to the pose with ease and lightness of spirit. And, with time, your balance will likely increase, and you’ll be able to do the pose with more ease and lightness.
3. Make a cup of tea.
There are so many varieties of tea, and many companies are making their teas in transparent tea bags with wonderfully fresh and innovative blends inside. Once you find out what teas you like, keep some in your office and home. And when you need a pick-me-up, take a tea break to shift your mood.
4. Stop what you’re doing (or not doing), and write down something that you’d rather be doing instead.
Whether it’s being with your children, going to a movie, or going to the beach, make it simple, and also something you’d really like to do. Then write down the steps you have to take to make it happen. Resolve to find time to do each step, as you can.
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5. Stand up and shake it off.
Stand up where you are and feel your feet firmly on the ground. Then lift one foot at a time and shake your leg while you inhale and exhale three times. (If balancing is hard for you, hold on to the back of a chair so you don’t fall.) After you shake out both legs, shake out your arms for three long breaths. Sometimes the best thing you can do is make a momentary shift in what you’re doing, and that can change your mood.
Adapted from Ayurveda Made Easy: 50 Exercises for Finding Health, Mindfulness, and Balance by Heidi E. Spear. Copyright © 2017 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.