We all have good days and bad days. Many factors can influence our daily mood. On a “good” day, we feel confident, we have a positive outlook on things, we feel capable of facing challenges, we are productive and we can more easily turn someone else’s frown upside down.
On a “bad” day however, things seem bleak: we isolate ourselves from others, we are irritable, we are pessimistic and negative and usually don’t feel like accomplishing much. Some of us have more “bad” days than “good” ones. Some of us can go weeks desperately waiting for a tiny flicker of hope for a better day to come along.
Wait no more: there is hope for all! We can influence our mood for the day by triggering the release of endorphins “endogenous morphine”, a.k.a the “feel good” chemical that is naturally released in the brain. The release of this chemical, the happy neurotransmitter, is scientifically known to enhance mood in humans.
Here are the 4 best ways we at Muslim Fitness recommend to enhance your mood:
1. Have a cardiovascular workout every other day
Have you ever heard of the “runner’s high”? Whoa! What a feeling! It’s positively uplifting. Endorphins are released during strenuous cardiovascular exercise because of which heightened feelings of happiness and euphoria are attained during running and other cardiovascular exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling or a good game of basketball. We recommend cardio at least every other day for 30 minutes to 1 hour at a time to help ensure a continued string of “good” days.
Because of the surge in energy caused by a good cardio workout, it is best to do it as early as possible in the day. We usually get our cardio workout done first thing in the morning. Wasim wakes up for Fajr prayer, has a cup of coffee, and hits the gym. I, on the other hand, have to prepare the children for school; so I wake for Fajr prayer, have my breakfast, prepare the children for school (wake them up, make breakfast, prepare lunches, get their hair done and put ‘em on the bus!) and then go to the gym.
If the morning schedule is too hectic then another option would be to do it during the lunch break at mid-day. This option is suitable for most professionals and students alike. Find a gym close to the office and bring your gym bag whenever you can, or even better, use the gym at your college or in your office building if there is one.
Never do cardio workouts after 5 pm because this sabotages the next day’s productivity levels. The energy supplied by the cardio session would keep you awake too late that night making it difficult for you to wake up early the next day to meet your busy schedule. We always recommend that cardio be done before as early in the day as possible.
2. Lift heavy weights twice a week
Lifting heavy weights is beneficial for both men and women. Please ignore the stigma which says that a woman will get bulky if she lifts heavy weight. We can assure you that this is false. A woman does not have the necessary levels of testosterone to allow her to grow her muscles like a man. Lifting moderately heavy to heavy weights puts the body under physical stress and sometimes pain. This stress and pain activate the release of endorphins throughout the body as a pain reliever. These same endorphins will leave you with a feeling of euphoria and a smile on your lips. Do this twice per week alternating with your cardiovascular workout for optimum mood enhancement.
Fortunately, we’ve equipped ourselves with a small home gym in our home office. We have a treadmill and some weights including; 4 dumbbell bars, 1 barbell and a variety of weighted disks as well as 3kg, 5kg and 7kg dumbbells. This allows us the convenience of having our workouts at home from time to time. A home gym workout can be as effective as having a membership at a gym. It’s just a matter of getting a good variety of weights. Every body part has its strength and requires a specific weight to challenge it.
However, if one is not experienced with working with weights then we highly recommend a gym membership. A reputable gym will offer experienced personal trainers who can demonstrate proper technique to avoid injury. Once proper technique is acquired, then the choice is yours.
We have all heard the saying: “laughter is the best medicine!” Yes, laughter releases endorphins. A hearty laugh engages several muscle groups throughout the body. Sometimes we laugh so hard that our cheek muscles and abs hurt. That’s because they are contracted during laughter. After a hearty laugh, the body is left in a more relaxed state, and our mind and mood happy. So, lighten up and laugh it up as often as you can. If you have children have a tickle fight, a pillow fight or share some funny childhood story about yourself.
We can also easily find some funny family-friendly Muslim standup comedy on YouTube such as:
- Allah Made Me Funny
- Waseem MoeMoney: Hilarious Arab Muslim Comedian!
- Hani Al Madhoun: Humor U, BYU Stand-up Comedy – Mormon, Muslim
- If you like slapstick you can look for Laurel and Hardy classics
4. Eating dark chocolate
This is especially exciting for the ladies as they are usually the chocolate lovers! Dark chocolate contains tryptophan, a “happy chemical” that activates the release of endorphins in the brain. Consumed in moderation, it can be used to give our mood a little boost. Remember that this method should be applied in moderation. We keep a bag of small dark chocolate (semi-sweet) chocolate chips in the refrigerator. Whenever any of us needs a tiny pick-me-up, we reach for a small handful of chocolate chips. It’s satisfies the sweet tooth and improves the mood.
Any of these can be used to help enhance our mood at different times of the day. But let’s not forget that we are also responsible for our mood of the day. Our mindset plays a big role in determining our mood. We can actually choose the mood we would like to be in.
So every morning upon waking up, ask yourselves this question: “What mood would I like to be in today?” We’re pretty sure of what your answer will be!