Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Feeling grumpy? Five ways to better your mood

By Jen Mulson Updated: August 22, 2013 at 7:54 am

Morphing into a crabby apple is one of life's inevitable occurrences.

It's nice to have a few remedies on hand to help bring back the sparkle. Please check with your doctor before doing pranayama or inversions.

Sing

Go ahead, put on a car concert for your fellow drivers. It'll make you feel good and also revive the flagging spirits of drivers around you. According to a 2012 study published in the journal "Evolutionary Psychology," performing music releases endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. I noticed this phenomenon years ago. When I feel good, I sing to favorite songs. When I don't, I listen to a book on tape or wordless music. So I always figured this would work in reverse - in order to get happy, start singing.

Animal contact

Scratch your cat. Smooch your dog on the head. Just get yourself in contact with a furry creature or two. And if that's not possible, go watch a funny animal video on YouTube. Pet therapy programs are popular for a reason - animals have the power to heal us.

"Research has found that owning a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and boost levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain," writes Kathleen Doheny on WebMD.com.

I once had to relocate one of my cats, and my parents agreed to take her. My dad wasn't in good health toward the end of his life and didn't like to leave the house. My mother managed to drag him to the doctor a couple of times, though - once before Mabel the Sweetest Kitty Ever joined their household and once after Mabel made herself at home and attached her fluffy self to my dad's side. His numbers (blood pressure, etc.) improved between the visits, the doctor and my mother noted, and nothing had changed in his life except the addition of an animal who gave him unconditional love.

Skull shining breath

Skull shining breath, also known as Kapalabhati Pranayama, accomplishes exactly that - it's a cleansing breath. The Sanskrit word prana means life force, and ayama means extension - extension of the life force. Pranayama is the fourth of eight limbs of yoga.

To do: Find a comfortable seated position. Pretend you're a dog in July. And by that, I mean pant like a dog with your tongue sticking out, using fast-paced exhales. Now, close your mouth and do the same thing. This is skull shining breath. Let the inhales happen passively and concentrate on quick, forceful exhales, so the belly pumps in and out continuously. Yoga Journal's website suggests doing 25 to 30 cycles at first and gradually increasing to 100 over time. After each cycle, breathe in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth a few times.

Go upside down

In yoga land, it's well-known that inverting your body, so your head is below your heart, is beneficial. It can improve mood, lessening anxiety and depression, relieve spinal pain and improve circulation, among many touted claims.

There are several ways to accomplish this. Pretend like you're 5 again and try a headstand or handstand. To feel safer, do them against a wall. Also try shoulderstand, plow, downward facing dog or wide-legged standing forward bend.

Drink tea and get rid of stuff, or clean something

You're going to need a little get up and go for these two activities, so pour yourself something delicious. Make a cup of tea. It feels like a simple, yet powerful, bit of self-care.

De-junk: Now go find an overflowing drawer or closet. If an item doesn't make you feel like a gorgeous rock star when you put it on, do us all a favor and donate it. It's bound to have that beautifying effect on somebody. Letting go of clothing, shoes, books, dishware or anything feels like a load off.

De-grease: In an effort to ward off neighborhood calls to code enforcement, I plugged the lawnmower in for the first time this summer. I always forget how strangely satisfying and uplifting it is to watch that mower tidily eat up the weeds. Wash, water or vacuum something, then make yourself another cup of tea and repeat after me, "This too shall pass."

I'd love to hear what you do when a bad mood hits: Email jen.mulson@gazette.com.

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WE ARE ONE

Lululemon Athletica will sponsor the second annual nighttime yoga in the park event this weekend. Bring a mat or practice in the grass. Stay the entire time or come for one sun salutation.

Sunday's schedule: 5:30-6 p.m. kirtan with Bhagavan Kirtan; 6-7 p.m. yoga class; 7-7:30 p.m. workshops; dance party to follow

Led by: Sarah Crowe, Hethyr Helton Pletsch, Benny James, Lora Lantz, Holly Aleine Sciorra, Amber Tong, Becca Roodhuyzen, Austin Richman

When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: On the lawn behind the Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.

Tickets: Free; 633-8157, Colorado Springs-showroom@lulululemon.com

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