It’s the middle of August, and I am not sure what flew over my house or was in my coffee, but when I woke up, something had me twisted. Have you ever experienced this? I think everyone in my house wanted to hit the deck and slither out the back door. Is it uncertian times? Is it hormones? Or is it just frustration with things out of my control? Who knows? When we are feeling this way, it’s important to acknowledge it and not condemn it. However, who wants to feel lousy all day?
Here are some ways to lighten your mood as the latter days of summer are approaching. This time of the year, you will see peaches, blueberries and sunflowers (just to name a few). I live in the Hudson Valley, where the farms are plentiful, and the million-dollar views of mountains will soften any mood.
Begin by enticing your senses.
1. HEAD INTO NATURE
One of my favorite reasons for leaving the city and moving upstate, N.Y. is to have these beautiful places to visit within 5 minutes of my home. These fields will make you feel like you are oceans away. Going to the farm or a farm stand this time of year can certainly do the trick. Freshly picked sunflowers or wildflowers can be helpful to add some color to your “gray day.” According to behavioral research conducted by Rutgers University, “flowers trigger happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and effects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.” If this is so, what are we waiting for? Let’s get our hands on some flowers!
Don’t live near a farm or farm stand? Go to any local florist and score some flowers for yourself. You won’t believe how this little act of goodness will help your mood.
2. GET CREATIVE
There are a million ways to get creative. However, for this post, let’s stick with the sunflowers for now. Last year our village had a Sunflower Festival. My studio shared the art of painting with flowers. What better way to get creative with flowers than to paint with them? These colors can shift your mood completely, never mind the experience of stamping with them.
3. STROLL THROUGH A FARMER’S MARKET OR FRUIT STAND
We know walking has a positive effect on our minds and body. Add some eye candy to your stroll, and you will be surprised how redirecting your thoughts to this beauty and awe will make you feel inspired. Farmer’s markets support healthy communities and help our environment and are linked to great causes. The thought of that can also help soften your mood. Even in your urban areas, you will find these beautiful fruit stands. We all have our phones handy at all times. Take some close-up shots of the beautiful bounty from our earth. Pick up a pint of something juicy and enjoy the sweetness. I promise this will inevitably boost your mood this August.
4. EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE
While on your adventures, it is essential to express your gratitude. The science behind gratitude tells us it can improve general well-being, increase resilience, strengthen social relationships, reduce stress and depression. Sign me up! It’s the little things we forget when our dark mood begins to set. Looking at a peach and thinking about the farmer who planted the seed, he/she who nurtured the tree, picked the peach, carried the peck of peaches to the truck, loaded the truck, drove the truck, unloaded the truck, stocked the shelves, bagged up our peach, all so you and I can enjoy this little piece of goodness. This little peach had quite a journey and would not be available if it wasn’t for the dedicated individuals who worked so hard to bring it to us. Keeping these thoughts or writing them down in a journal helps keep a habit of gratuitous ideas flowing. Try it, and I promise you will be amazed at how it shifts your mood.
5. TRIGGERING YOUR SENSE OF SMELL
Bring the love to your nose! Science has shown that particular scents can trigger specific moods due to associative learning. We connect things due to our past experiences. I can’t be 100% sure that you will agree, but I will venture to say that the smell of baked goods will make most of our mouths water. Growing up with my Italian relatives, we spent a lot of time savoring food and drink. We enjoyed countless hours gathered around the table, as the food was always a central theme. Sometimes we just need to spoil ourselves with a few extra calories and bask ourselves in the warmth and goodness of a baked dessert. Here we made a peach crisp. I know there are some excellent bakers out there making things from scratch, but I was just looking for something quick. I scored a pre-made bag of Summer Crisp Mix from my local farm stand and added my peaches. The smell definitely helped to put a smile on my face. Think about what smell triggers happiness for you.
A special thanks to Montgomery Place Orchards and Rose Hill Farm in Red Hook, N.Y. for these beautiful scenes, produce and goods.