What do you do when you're in a funk? Overeat? Sleep too much, or not enough? Snap at your loved ones? Mess up at work?
Well, at least you're not alone with your blues: A whopping 49 percent of people report feeling cranky and glum at least once a week. But did you know down-in-the-dumps feelings stimulate health-threatening inflammation and trigger brain changes that make high-fat, high-sugar foods look extra-tempting?
Great reasons to take bad moods seriously - and to have a rescue plan ready the next time a tough commute, nasty boss or a piece of unwelcome news dampens your day.
But for a quick pick-you-up, here's how to put a smile on your face and some bounce in your step.
- Turn on the music. Cue up your favorite tunes, then tell yourself, "I'm planning to feel better, and this music will help." One new study says that positive intention is an even more powerful mood-lifter than music alone.
- Write down your negative thoughts - then rip them up and throw them away. There's something powerful about the physical act of tossing aside gloomy thoughts. It seems to signal your brain in a dramatic way that you're getting past the bad stuff. In contrast, putting glum thoughts on paper and keeping them around seems to tell your brain that you want to hold on to them .
- Pet a pet. Stroking Fido's fur or Kitty's silky coat boosts oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, as well as levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. It also can lower blood pressure by an impressive 10 percent. Don't have a dog or cat? Spend some quality time with your neighbor's pet.
- Gaze at your favorite painting. Monet's water lilies? A sensual Georgia O'Keefe flower? Whatever you favor, taking it in for a few minutes could increase blood flow in your brain by an energizing 10 percent - a boost on par with what happens when you look at someone you love. Make them your computer's desktop image or keep postcards of them by your desk.
- Bust a yoga move and laugh a little. Plenty of yoga practices slash stress and help you feel calmer, but if the yoga studio in your neighborhood isn't yet offering laughter yoga, try this trend on your own. Think about something funny, then produce a laugh while you do a simple routine. Just 20 minutes can boost your mood and improve heart rate, a sign of a healthy nervous system.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.