It feels incredibly daunting to figure out how to improve your mood when you are stuck in a rut. Life is chaotic as a parent, and finding time to think about how to improve an unhappy mindset is more complicated than it sounds. Is there an easy way to approach our mental health?
Lisa Thompson, Happity’s Customer Support Manager and mum to a feisty three-year-old boy, recently did a Happity Lunchtime Live. She gave some fabulous tips on how to bring a bit more warmth into our lives and improve our mood following the guidance of a simple acronym.
Read on to find out more!
Using F.L.A.M.E to add warmth into your day!
As may have been the case with many of you reading this, my son’s birth did not go to plan and in the months after he came along. I had anxiety, PTSD and was physically poorly as well.
I decided to make little changes every day to get back to good. So that I could be the best mum that I can be.
So I have thought about the things that work best for me and wanted to share them with you today. I have even put together a little acronym.
This is what works for me, it may or may not work for you. Some of it you may have heard before but hopefully, there will be some new things for you to try.
As a mum, most of my examples will be about being a mum but these tips are for everyone! So if you are a dad, grandparent, carer or anyone really, then please do listen and join in too!
The acronym I use is this:
It’s a bit cheesy but I have chosen FLAME as this is about igniting your spirit and gaining more energy.
And don’t worry, the E is not for exercise! The last thing you need if you have been up all night with a teething baby is for me to tell you to go for a walk!
F: Thoughtful food to improve your mood
Now, rather predictably the F does stand for Food, but most importantly for fruit & veg! This is not about weight loss, this is about giving your body what it needs to thrive.
It’s recommended that we have between 7 and 10 80g servings. However many of us don’t get anywhere near that. It can be too much to try and get there all at once.
So, think about where you are at the moment; if it is only one a day, then that is your baseline.
Try and build up slowly to five servings a day, starting with fruit which in my opinion is a lot more fun than veg!
To get started pick your favourite fruit and then have that as a snack once a day. Or have it with your breakfast. Then when that habit has stuck, build in another fruit. Once you have built in the fruit, then you can start to build in the veg. Add cucumber or tomatoes to sandwiches, have good quality soups and try to have one serving of veg with your dinner. You’ll be at your 5 a day in no time and will probably be feeling awesome!
One thing I noticed I was doing was giving my son lots of fruit but never eating it myself! So now when I give it to him, I have some myself too!
I go along to the shops with my son and we pick a new fruit or vegetable together and take it home and eat it. It’s a great way to eat more fruit and veg and it is an activity for you to do together as well!
Check out this article the NHS has made, “8 tips for healthy eating“.
L: Laughter & fun!
Whether you are in the first 12 weeks or 12 years of parenthood, there are days that can just feel like a slog. You just have to get through them. However, my tip to improve your mood is to make time for fun every day and seek out opportunities for laughter.
Laughter helps to reduce your heart rate, lowers levels of stress hormones in your body and also connects us.
Take time each day to seek out something fun. Read a funny book, listen to shows on the radio which make you laugh, at the end of the day watch a comedy, rather than a gloomy drama. Contact someone who always makes you laugh.
These little moments in the day pierce the bubble of that feeling of slog.
Another great way that still helps improve my mood is going to classes! Taking my son along to a music class, singing songs, shaking instruments, trying and failing to keep up with the signing of songs all made me feel great. My son loved them, and It also really improved my mood when the other parents were having a giggle as well.
So if you have not booked a class yet, I would really recommend going along to one and of course, there are lots of amazing providers on Happity! Check them out here!
A: Ask for help to improve your mood
Being a parent does not come with a manual and a lot of what happens is completely unexpected but many parents don’t ask for help for fear of judgement.
I really struggled with breastfeeding for about 8-weeks. And, as a lot of us do, I kept it in and I didn’t tell anybody. I kept it in, and I kept it in, and I kept it in. And as repressed feelings often do, it all came bursting out of me.
I was in a bit of a state. But I started to talk about it. I asked for help, I started to share my experience, I expressed my feelings, and it was almost like a cloud lifted.
Nobody judged me. Nobody called me a terrible mother as I had feared. Everyone was so kind and so helpful, and I managed to sort myself out. Eventually, I moved on.
Maybe that’s an extreme example, but it still applies to general problems that play on your mind. If you’re tired, or overwhelmed, or are not sure what you are doing then reach out to a person you trust. Whether that’s your partner, your GP, a friend -I promise you, it will help.
Again, go along to classes, speak to the other parents and you will see that we are all in this together and not alone. But, if you are really struggling to cope, contact your GP. Or take a look at our PND support page to find out more information about who could help if you are unsure.
M: Moment of calm
I don’t about you but my mornings start in a really hectic way. Sometimes by a three-year-old shouting cock-a-doodle-doo at the top of his voice.
Then it’s breakfast, getting dressed, teeth cleaning, getting out of the house and getting him to the nursery or to my Mum’s. Then once he’s there my mind turns to what I have to do that day and starts whirring at the speed of light.
This is a pretty stressful way to start the day. So once my son is safe where he needs to be, I take a few minutes just to calm it down before plunging into the next part of my day.
It could be breathing exercises for a few minutes, meditation, journaling. Or maybe having a mindful walk on the way home from nursery. Whatever it is, it provides a pause and a moment of rest before you get going again. Sometimes it is just a case of having a cup of tea in the garden to improve your mood.
It might seem counterproductive when you have so much to do. But just taking a few minutes to rebalance will leave you more focused, calm and less stressed.
E: Enjoy improving your mood!
There are two parts to this one.
The first one is to do something that you enjoy every day or at least every week. If this sounds unrealistic for you, then just start small with five minutes or small acts. The key here is to do something that is just for you and is not part of being a parent so that you can start to feel like yourself again!
- Read a book that you have wanted to start for ages.
- Listen to your favourite songs
- Restart a long-forgotten hobby/start a new one.
- Have a bath
- Put on your favourite perfume/cologne
- Go to the gym
If it’s available to you, then ask your partner or a trusted person to look after your little one(s) regularly.
Another good way to build this in is to practice ‘bundling’. Which is where you pair an everyday task with something fun. If I’m tidying up all the toys at the end of the day then I will listen to my favourite songs or podcast. It really helps to make it more enjoyable.
These little interventions can turn a bad day into a good one in an instant and start to make each day better.
The second half is to enjoy the small things! When we are deep in the busyness of every day, it is hard to remember to enjoy what’s happening.
A friend of mine starts every meeting that she runs with everyone thinking about what their ‘best thing today’ was. This is something that my husband and I do every night before we go to bed. It can be something really small. But taking time to think about what it might be that changes your mindset and you start to actively notice the good in every day.
So that’s all of Lisa’s tips on how to improve your mood!
Thank you so much Lisa for some absolutely brilliant advice!
Hopefully, we’ll be seeing Lisa at a Happity lunchtime live again in the future!