Listening to music for about an hour a day can help reduce fatigue, according to a recent study. Music may also play a key role in cell growth and repair, keeping your insides spry, says biochemist Miguel-Angel Mayoral-Chavez, M.D., Ph.D. Just make sure the beats are, well, upbeat, whether the music is Gaga or Mozart. Another tactic: Call Mom or your BFF. Hearing a supportive, familiar voice prompts the brain to release oxytocin, a stress-fighting, mood-elevating hormone, according to Leslie J. Seltzer, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
If the thought of schmoozing at a party makes you want to crawl under the covers, listen up: Your hands might be able to put you in a mingling mood. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and MIT found that people view socializing as tougher after touching a rough object. Keeping something smooth handy--like a ring with a flat stone that you can rub with your thumb--might help calm your social butterflies, says study coauthor Joshua Ackerman, Ph.D., of MIT's Sloan School of Management. To mellow out even more, ask your partner for a hand and foot massage, which can lower your heart rate, according to the journal Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic & Clinical.
Yellow is the color most closely linked with a healthy mood; other positive hues include orange and lilac. Try using these tones on your walls or fill some vases with similarly shaded blooms. You can also get an energy kick from sitting near a light box for 45 minutes a day (buy one at usa.philips.com). It's a pill-free way to increase alertness during waking hours, according to a study from Harvard Medical School and Northeastern University.
Research shows that when people at nightclubs are exposed to orange or peppermint scents, they report more positive experiences--and dance the night away! And the smell of peppermint, a natural stimulant, can also quell stress, according to the North American Journal of Psychology. Rub a drop of one of these essential oils (or cinnamon, which can also perk you up) onto your wrists when your energy level starts to slump. A dab of lemon scent could also bump up your bliss, says a study in the British Journal of Psychology.
Talk about a zest for life! A mix of cooling and tangy citrus flavors can up your energy by activating nerves in the mouth, throat, and nasal cavity that trigger a heightened level of brain activity, says David Labbe, Ph.D., a sensory scientist at the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland. Chewing gum is another way to enhance energy, according to the journal Nutritional Neuroscience. The muscle tension that comes with chewing can increase heart rate and alertness, and stimulate the nervous system, says study author and psychologist Andy Smith, Ph.D.
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