Think about the last time you were in a bad mood. Maybe you texted your best friend to cheer yourself up, tried to cure it with a little retail therapy, or isolated yourself and binge-watched your favourite TV shows and movies to feel better. There's no right or wrong way to improve your mood, but according to a recent study in the Journal of Happiness Studies, there's a really easy, and quick, way to improve your mood!
Researchers at Iowa State University had college students walk around a building for 12 minutes testing one of three techniques meant to reduce anxiety and increase one's happiness or well-being. The first strategy, loving-kindness, required students to look at people and think to themselves, "I wish for this person to be happy." The second strategy, interconnectedness, required students to look at people and think about how they're connected to each other. The researchers also suggested the students think about the hopes and feelings they may share. The third strategy, downward social comparison, had students look at people and think about how they may be better off than the people they encountered.
It may sound weird to think about others when it's your mood you're trying to boost, but, "Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection," Douglas Gentile, one of the researchers and a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, said.
Instead of wishing well for others and thinking about their emotions, students in the control group were told to focus on how people looked, paying attention to things like the colour and texture of their clothing and their hair, makeup, and accessories. Researchers compared both groups and found that students who practiced the loving-kindness strategy felt happier, more connected, caring, empathetic, and less anxious.
Who knew getting out of a funk could be as easy as thinking kind thoughts towards others while taking a 12-minute walk? The next time you find yourself in a bad mood, press pause, go on a walk, and wish everyone you see happiness and watch your bad mood melt away.