Professionals, peers suggest habits to improve mood

Caroline Bailey
Caroline Bailey, left, Allie Oberfield and Brooke Humphreys enjoy being together because it lifts their moods. (Caroline Bailey)

Many things influence a person’s mood, including morning routines and friendship, according to psychologist Jessamy Hibberd.

Minor changes to everyday life to have a major impact on mood, according to Hibberd. She said starting the day out right, including not hitting snooze button, will make someone happier.

“How you feel when you first wake up is a gauge for how you’ll feel for the rest of the day,” Hibberd said. “When your alarm goes off, get up instead of lying there thinking of things you don’t want to do. Make sure you open the curtains too. Natural light will stimulate the feel-good hormone serotonin, which will make you feel more awake and boost your mood.”

Having a morning routine is important in order to feel productive and motivated for the rest of the day, BYU sociology student Caroline Bailey said.

“My morning routine affects my mood a lot,” Bailey said. “If I get up late, skip school or work, then I struggle and feel unmotivated or depressed the rest of the day. If I wake up on time and get ready and go to everywhere that I need to be, I feel great and energized.”

In addition to having a good morning routine, friendship can also improve happiness, according to Hibberd. She said research shows laughter, especially with friends, soothes tension, improves the immune system and eases pain. Smiling triggers feelings of happiness even if someone is not feeling happy, according to Hibberd.

Bailey said she laughs the most when she is with her friends.

“My friends help improve my mood because they validate me, allow me to be vulnerable and process my feelings and they’re supportive and allow me to be myself,” Bailey said.

She also said finding ways to serve others is sometimes just what she needs to put a smile on her face.

“I love finding little ways to serve others, whether they recognize it or not. It doesn’t even have to be a big deal. Sometimes complimenting someone or opening the door makes me feel good,” Bailey said. “One time, I just traded seats with a girl on a plane so she could be next to her mom, and I was so happy the entire time.”

Performing random acts of kindness can increase happiness, Hibberd said. She said these acts stimulate the release of endorphins, and there’s a strong relationship between this type of activity and increased self-worth and self-esteem.

“Even those with a naturally sunny disposition can succumb to the occasional bad mood, but with creating simple habits you can be happier,” Hibberd said.

LDS singer and songwriter Hilary Weeks said thought process can also influence a person’s mood. She said in a recent LDS fireside she once heard that humans think over 300 negative thoughts per day. To test the claim, she bought a clicker and started counting.

“Each day for one week, I clicked and counted my negative thoughts,” Weeks said. “After seven days of clicking each discouraging, gloomy, depressing thought, I felt discouraged, gloomy and depressed.”

Weeks said she realized focusing on negative thoughts generated a negative attitude. She decided to change her focus and click the number of positive, uplifting and optimistic thoughts. She said this act brought a heightened feeling of motivation, strength and confidence.

Bailey said confidence and noticing the good in life is a key factor in improving happiness.

“I believe we just need to be confident in who we are and the mistakes we make,” Bailey said. “I believe that as we come to accept our reality and come into our own identity that no matter what, we can remain positive and seek what is best for us.”

Bailey said she has developed habits to be happier. Music, friends, family, exercise, being productive, eating a healthy diet, doing well in school and having quality conversations all help to improve her mood.

“Music helps me be contemplative. It allows me to think and process,” Bailey said. “It brings up memories for me of times when I have been doing an activity while listening to the song, or driving and being genuinely happy. Music connects me emotionally and spiritually, which lifts me up.”

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