Easy Ways to Improve Your Mood

Long hours, heavy workloads, and family demands can drain your energy reserves and leave you feeling agitated. Although it can be challenging to make time for yourself during a busy work day, following these simple tips can improve your mood and increase your energy levels.

Get Moving
Exercise is one of the biggest mood elevators. As you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which can trigger positive feelings and diminish the perception of pain. Jim White, an exercise physiologist, recommends doing a combination of cardio and weight training throughout the week. Regular exercise can not only improve your health but also your mood.

White advises physicians to carve out at least 10 or 20 minutes a day and find a full-body routine that they enjoy. You can run 2 miles in 20 minutes or work through a full strength-training routine. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, you can do body weight exercises, such as push-ups or squats, in the office or outside. Patient rounds also count as cardio—use a wearable fitness tracker to track your steps, and try to aim for 10,000 steps each day.

Tame the “Hangry” Beast
If you’re prone to becoming angry or grumpy when you’re hungry, then you’ve experienced the state of being “hangry” (an amalgam of hungry and angry).

When you’re hungry, your blood glucose levels drop, and it can become difficult to concentrate (or behave politely). A well-timed, healthy snack is key to maintaining your blood glucose levels and improving your mood.

Nancy Farrell, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends snacking on fruits and vegetables when you need a pick-me-up. “Fruits and vegetables are most associated with improving our mental status and mood,” Farrell says. “They make us feel light, provide satiety through fiber, and give us a sense of accomplishment and well-being.”

Reduce the Noise
Regular meditation or mindfulness has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, relieve depression, and boost the immune system.

There are many ways to practice meditation, including repeating a mantra or counting breaths, but they all share a common purpose: focusing your mind to achieve a balanced and peaceful state. Providers can find beginner meditation guides and videos online or check out community centers and local colleges for affordable classes.

Next time you’re feeling stressed or upset, lace up your sneakers, grab a banana, or try meditation—your mood will respond accordingly.