It was a dreary day and had started badly. One of my colleagues at work seemed to find fault with everything I did. Then we ran out of milk. I wished I had a reset button for the day or a magic potion to banish the blues. 

But there was a lot to do and no superhero or magic potion in sight.

Trudging through the rain, on the way to the shops, I felt very sorry for myself. Inside the supermarket, a young mum pushing a trolley had two little “helpers”. One dropped a bag of potatoes and it split. He burst into tears. Rather than shouting, his mum said “Quick, let’s catch the runaway potatoes. ” Helping him and his mother pick up the potatoes was fun. Seeing the little one’s tears change to smiles gave me a lift. I bought some milk–and some delicious looking biscuits in the sale.

Feeling a bit more positive, I noticed the flowers on sale and thought they might banish the blues. The lass in the shop was thinking about exercise classes and I gave her some information about what was on offer locally. She was delighted.

By the time I got back to the office, I was already feeling better. We had a cup of tea and a biscuit. We laughed about the runaway potatoes. Had I discovered the magic potion that banished the blues?

Well, in a sense I had. There’s scientific evidence that what I did that morning not only makes one feel happier, but also can improve mild to moderate depression and anxiety. So here are the ingredients for the magic potion to banish the blues.

1. Exercise

Exercise improves the blood flow to the brain and releases endorphins which are a natural antidepressants. It also releases seratonin (sometimes known as the happiness drug). Infographic on how exercise makes you happier. A change of location, exercise and fresh air can disrupt negative thought patterns and distract us from self-pity. However, depression often results in a loss of energy, so you may need other interventions before you feel up to exercise. More on exercise and depression.

2. Noticing and Recalling Positive Events

If you notice and savour good events, you build your resilience. Your heartbeat slows and strengthens. The more you notice the good, the better you feel. Here’s an easy research based practice that will boost your mood and your resilience.

3. Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness not only help others, they also help you. A multitude of research studies show that being kind for no reason or hope of reward enriches everyone. Here’s an example of the kindness boomerang. Try it, it works!

4. Sharing food

Sharing food gives pleasure and creates connection. It creates a pause for conversation.

Givers of great dinners know few enemies.— Martial, C. 95AD

Eating with the fullest pleasure – pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance – is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.— Wendell Berry

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