3 ways to boost your mood, regain control during this stressful time

Recognizing that you have control over how you spend your time and the way you view your circumstances can be life changing, says executive career coach Liz Bentley
Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs.
Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs.Anthony Scutro

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By Liz Bentley

Sheltering at home for weeks on end is affecting all aspects of our lives, including our health, career, finances and relationships. So, it’ s understandable if you’ve been finding that it’s difficult to keep a positive outlook.

Know that what you’re feeling is normal, especially when the future seems so unpredictable and potentially out of our control. What we’re facing now can make even happiest person feel stressed or sad.

But remember that there is always at least one thing you can control—and that is yourself.

Recognizing that you have this control, especially over how you spend your time and the way you view your circumstances, can be life changing. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to understand this and act to improve your everyday experiences, which will ultimately lead to a better outcome in the end.

If you’re feeling down, here are three immediate things you can do to elevate your mood and gain control of your present and future.

1. Get moving.

Get moving! Exercise is a well-known treatment for depression. And the good news is it doesn’t have to be a hard work out; it’s primarily about getting the body moving. According to research from Harvard, low-intensity exercise sustained over time helps your brain make new connections, which in turn makes you feel better.

RELATED: Celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser: 5 ways to stay active during this unprecedented time

During this quarantine, it can be easy to let the hours slip away and have physical activity pass you by, so don’t let that happen and don’t over think it. Find something that works with your schedule and interests. Do an online class, go for a walk/run or just do some exercises on your own on the floor. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t need a special outfit, mat or app.

You can just do some simple planks, sit-ups and push-ups to get the blood flowing and you will start to see a difference. The key is to try and do something every day no matter the weather, even if it’s small. You will see that exercise changes your entire perspective and improves your emotional well-being.

2. Start doing.

We always feel better about ourselves when we are accomplishing things. Now that we’re spending most of our time at home, it’s the perfect opportunity to organize and clean out those areas of your home you have been ignoring. Just doing that will feel good, but after that’s been accomplished, keep going – and by that, I mean keep moving toward the most meaningful areas of your life. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish during this time that you will feel great about when this is all over.

Don’t be an avoider! Look hard at your to-do’s and think about what really needs to be done, and take note of what you are afraid of doing. For example, if you have been thinking of getting your website up and running to build your business, but instead keep rearranging your closets, you need to stop filling your time with the easy tasks and dive into the hard ones. Do the projects you always put off. This is the time to tackle them!

Once you have organized your projects, including the hard ones, make a timeline of what you what to accomplish and by when. Doing that will allow to regain control and end this quarantine feeling much better.

3. Find an outlet for your creativity.

Everyone approaches creativity differently. For some, problem solving is where their creativity lies, while for others, it may involve art, music, writing, building – whatever activity immerses us and helps calm our brain.

Sadly, many of us have shut down our creativity. This is often the result of fear that we are not good at it or we’re distracted from the hustle and bustle of life. When we are always in the “doing,” we lose our ability to be in the “thinking” zone. If your life was packed before this crisis, you may have fallen into that trap. Now, in the quiet of quarantine, is the time to get your creative juices flowing again.

Allowing yourself to be creative will open you up to many possibilities and could help you see the changes you will need to make when you enter into the new world ahead.

There’s another important benefit: scientists have discovered that when we are being creative, our brains release mood-boosting hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Tapping into a creative outlet can help you reduce stress and get into a more positive mindset.

Your mood and mindset are one of the few things you can control in your life. Dive into these three exercises and you’ll see your outlook will shift and your life will improve.

Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs. She is a nationally recognized keynote speaker and executive coach to top leaders and teams across a broad range of industries