Who hasn't had a day when it feels like you can't do anything right? Luckily, remembering what you did well is the perfect antidote. This past fall, researchers at the University of California, Riverside, asked Japanese office workers to write down three good things that happened to them at work each week. They also asked others simply to write down tasks they'd performed.
"We found that the people who had recorded feel-good achievements moved more," says professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, author of The How of Happiness.
"There's a logic to this: We know that thinking about things you're proud of can induce a positive mood and that a positive mood is associated with more energy."
Try this trick whenever you need a boost. Actually writing down your list gives you something to reread (letting you experience the effects all over again), but you get the same happy results if you scrap the pen and paper and tell a friend.
If you have ever jumped in a cold lake and felt a surge of electricity run through you, you won't be surprised to learn that cold water can invigorate our minds, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.
"When we exposed people to ice water, they performed better on a standard alertness test," says James Zacny, PhD, an anesthesiologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center. This may happen because when we encounter a stressor, our bodies often release noradrenaline, which is--you guessed it--an energizing hormone.
Dr. Zacny suggests running cold water over your wrists for a minute or two to rev yourself up. Because skin is covered in nerve endings, splashing cold water on your face works well too.
Get In Mint Condition
Minty aromas can help people exercise longer and complete clerical tasks faster and more accurately, studies show. "Mint stimulates a primal response to odors we can also 'feel,'" says Pamela Dalton, PhD, MPH, a senior research scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "Such smells make us more vigilant, leading to greater energy."
If you're up for venturing beyond packaged mints, gum, and tea, keep an ounce of fresh mint on hand, and use it as a garnish for drinks and in salads. Dr. Dalton--who keeps a spearmint plant growing indoors year-round (to release the scent, just brush your fingers through the leaves)--also suggests wearing minty lotion. The cooling sensation it gives your skin coupled with the tingle it puts in your airways can be invigorating.
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