Women have way more serotonin receptors in our brains than dudes, according to research done by the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden, and these little service stations allow nutrients and hormones to flow in and out. While they lead to our feeling exceedingly happy at times, researchers claim that our complex wiring may mean women also have more of a tendency to be in a bad mood. As if we had no idea. Thanks for the reminder!
No matter what these scientists say, though (and let's face it, the ones running the studies are probably privileged, white males), we're not doing ourselves any favors by believing that we're forever emotionally unstable. Sure, we have our bad days and moments (shout out to hormones as well!), but there are always things we can do pick ourselves up. In fact, it's actually the smallest additions to our day that do the greatest wonders.
Like English poet and writer Samuel Johnson said back in the 1700s: "It is by studying the little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible." Well, if he believed in that in the 18th century, before there was Amazon and bulletproof coffee, we have no reason not to at least give this philosophy a shot. Whenever you're feeling tired, cranky, or just doubtful about your future, don't feel like you have to make huge changes to merely find a way to smile.
Here are nine small things that can instantly put you in a better mood.
1. Kiss Someone
A smooch floods your brain with dopamine, that happy chemical that makes you feel happy and sure that everything in the world will work out. Plus, it triggers the same part of the brain that is activated when cocaine is in your system; essentially, you can get high from making out. So, grab your partner and give 'em a big, sloppy wet one. (Or your dog/kitty/pillow — whatever.)
2. Put Cinnamon In Your Coffee
What's the first thing you think of when you smell cinnamon? The holidays, of course — and lots and lots of heartwarming desserts. It could conjure up some lovely memories. This spice was once used medicinally as well, and research shows that it can improve attention span, metabolism, and visual-motor response. Sprinkle a little bit in your morning brew to spice up the day and kick you off with a bang.
3. Put Your Legs Up
Any yoga posture that lands your legs over your head — think headstand or plow pose — will boost your mood instantaneously. It doesn't have to be an official pose, though. Just find a wall and lie down on your back and scoot in until you can put your legs up, with your buttocks against the wall. Let your arms fall to the side and enjoy it for as long as you'd like.
4. Open Up Your Curtains When You Wake Up
Let the light in when you wake up — you might feel happier all day long as a result, says Michael Terman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University. By welcoming the natural sunlight into your bedroom and any other corners of the house, you get a "dawn stimulation," not unlike the boost of energy you get from venturing outside for a quick walk.
5. Smell Jasmine
You can relax your nerves and relieve unwanted tension by merely inhaling the scent of this gorgeous flower, and suddenly you won't feel so stressed anymore. Research shows that you can even sleep better at night after surrounding yourself with jasmine. Get some scented body oil or stick a candle in your office at work.
6. Give Someone A Hug
Human touch is such a crucial part of achieving overall health. It automatically releases serotonin, it reduces blood pressure, and evens out your heart rate, as a study at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill showed. Pull your SO in for an extra cuddle before you leave for work in the morning or hug your friend after you're done with your lunch date, and it's a guarantee that your spirits will be lifted in a split second.
7. Delete An Event From Your Calendar
No matter how important you like to think everything on your schedule is, there is certainly something that could be cancelled, and when you've got too much on your place, you're setting yourself up for overwhelming stress. Look ahead on your calendar for the rest of the week and see if there is something you can afford — and want — to scrap. It'll be a weight off your shoulders, and you might even give yourself a chance to smile.
Pretend like you're the star in a big romantic movie, or just make up a hilarious, outrageous story in your head. Amy Riley, a life balance consultant for Tiara Coaching in Chicago, told Woman's Day that a little imagination can go a long way. It can help you redefine a situation or person that is really bothering you, and it gives you the chance to turn something upsetting into a comical scene ... sorry what was I saying?
9. Try A New Food
Getting caught in a food rut is far too easy, especially after you've fallen into a certain routine and don't have the wherewithal to change it. But trying a new cuisine — or at least a new dish at your favorite cafe — can add some excitement to your daily life. So what if you don't like it? At least you were a little adventurous, which will probably pave the way for you to feel more alive. Plus, um, food is great.
Images: Drew Herron/Flickr; Giphy (11)