Thursday, October 15, 2015

10 chic ways to change your mood

I snapped this photo when passing this property (it's a medical centre) earlier in the week.  Isn't the flowering shrub glorious?  It looks like a beautiful bouquet.

Many of us fall into habits of perking up our mood by unhealthy and unhelpful methods.  I’m talking about the feeling of ‘I’m a bit bored/tired/blah/restless right now, what would make me feel better?’

The kinds of unhelpful mood-changers I’m thinking of are:

Alcohol (I’m not talking about a glass of wine with dinner)
Drugs for any reason
Regularly eating high-carb/fat/salt/sugar foods between or instead of meals
Over-shopping for recreation

Instinctively we know when we’re doing something for the wrong reason. 

I still don’t drink, I’ve never been into drugs and I feel fortunate enough that I don’t have an issue with excessive shopping, however I do change my mood with unhealthy faux foods sometimes too often.

I was horrified to read that in the olden days patients in mental homes were given lots of carbs because of the sedating and calming effect that they have.  That’s what I’ve been doing – medicating myself!

So I thought I’d create a list of healthy, chic and stylish ways to change my mood the next time I feel bored, tired, blah or restless.

One:  Music – Choose French music to feel chic, classical to feel elegant and refined (I love violin/strings), 80s and 90s pop for fun; moody alternative music I listened to as a teen for nostalgia, country music which makes me feel very laid back (and like it's summer) - the list is endless!  Whenever I’m in a nice store and they have something beautiful playing, I am reminded of how important music is when we want to make ourselves feel good.

Two:  Physical movement – Now that I am a regular walker and have been for over a year, I realise just how good I feel after a walk.  I don’t go that fast either, some days I positively stroll.  In fact, I can’t remember when I last power-walked…  I think that’s why I’ve kept it up so long.  At that time of the month when the last thing I feel like is exercising, I tell myself ‘just go the short route and walk as slow as you like’.  And I go, and it feels good.

Three:  Nutritious food – Whether I 'feel' like it or not!  Some days at work when I don’t feel like making my salad for lunch and think I’d like something more ‘fun’ (hot and stodgy are strong keywords here), I go through the options (very limited when you’re strictly gluten-free) and usually end up making my salad anyway.  Sometimes it’s just because I can’t be bothered washing the lettuce and chopping the avocado and celery and capsicum and ten other ingredients.  So if I just do it on auto-pilot it gets done and when I’m eating it, it’s yummy.  I’m sort of like a kid telling myself just to eat up.  And then I’ve had nutritious food which makes me feel physically good and avoided a meal that would have regret as an aftertaste.

Four:  Fun reading – I always have a bottomless pile of books to read, both from the library and titles I’ve purchased.  I look forward to most of them (and the few I don’t are returned to the library unread), sometimes though, it’s fun to play hooky and deviate from the pile entirely.  I go to my bookshelf and pick something fun and exactly what my heart needs at that moment.  It might be one of my French Chic books or it might be a fun chick lit that I reread over and over (such as Jemima J by Jane Green or one of the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella).  It makes me feel happier and in a better mood just thinking about doing this!

Five:  Inspirational blogs – A spot of blog browsing can be a great way to get my mind onto a better track.  I browse the ‘Reading’ sidebar on my blog and go visit some friends for a little while.

Six:  Browsing one of my glossy large-format books – I don’t open these all the time, but when I do pull one down and have a ten-minute read, I am transported somewhere else.  The visual beauty wakes up a part of me that might have been napping, I’m inspired to make my world lovely again and my mood is changed instantly. 

Some of my favourites include Vicki Archer’s gorgeous and evocative books (My French Life and French Essence), The French Cat by Rachael McKenna, Taschen’s Paris and the extremely inspirational My Stylish French Girlfriends by Sharon Santoni which is brand new out.  I have a library copy currently and I’ve just ordered my own – it’s delicious!

Seven:  Burning incense or lighting a candle – my husband offered this one after asking what I was writing my post about.  He said as a boy he never would have thought to do something like that but he really appreciated the girl touch it provides.  Now it’s often him that lights an incense stick, most often after work if we aren’t cooking dinner for a while.  He also reminded me that smell is one of the most powerful of senses to change our mood. 

We always like to have a selection, currently three Auroshikha scents  in Coconut, Jasmine and Cedar, a Rose scented incense (Moksh Swarna Gulab) from an Indian shop (‘makes your prayer truly divine’ the packet says) and Satya Super Hit.  I love the Sai Baba Nag Champa ones too but we don’t have any of those at the moment.  Please don’t be tempted to buy the cheap, cheap incenses, they aren’t nearly as nice.  We used to enjoy L’Occitane incense cones but sadly they discontinued them years ago.  I keep hoping they’ll bring them back!

Eight:  Call someone – this depends on how I’m feeling – if I’m likely to bring them down with my bad attitude I don’t, but if I’m feeling blah and having a lovely chat with someone will save me from a snackathon and catch up with them at the same time, then why not.  The same goes for returning emails.  There’s always a few I owe people, and once I get started I forget all about my faux hunger.

Nine:  Pick up a magazine – I don’t buy as many as I used to and have decluttered a lot of magazines from my home (I’d have my keepers but even they were getting to be too much and more of a stress than a pleasure - don't worry, I still have my Victoria magazines).  Currently the one that brings me the greatest feeling of inspiration and peace is Australian ‘Country Style’.  I love this magazine and have bought a few copies as well as borrowed back issues from the library. 

Even though I live in a big city (well, big for New Zealand standards  - 1.5 million people), I long for the day when I can move to somewhere smaller and with a slower pace.  Country Style magazine is my source of daydreams and, right now, helps keep this in mind as I live my ‘small town in the big city’ lifestyle.

Ten:  Tidy up your surroundings – even if there are other things I ‘should’ be doing, I often find that tidying up my immediate surroundings helps enormously with my motivation.  At work with a messy desk and half-finished tasks everywhere, if I take a moment to put things in order and do the quick jobs, I’m get an extra spurt of energy and finish everything with ease.  Same with home.  Trying to push through and finish a task (or get inspired to start one) is harder with little energy-sapping piles of clutter and that's when I get the thought 'oooh, what can I eat right now?'

What about you, do you turn to food or other things in order to change your mood?  How often do you give in and how often do you make a conscious decision to change your direction?  I’d love to know because I need all the help I can get sometimes!


  1. All wonderful ideas! I am really enjoying burning incense as it makes my house smell heavenly and far more efficiently than a scented candle. Plus it's cheaper! The Coconut incense sounds lovely!

  2. Tracy, coconut would suit your beachy theme too :)

  3. I do not tend to be a moody person, but these are wonderful idea. The only thing I slightly disagree with are candles ... I can't bear scented candles, I much prefer just to spritz the room with some lavender slumber mist, or even open the windows and freshen the room. Also, I do think that candles are a fire risk - they must not be unattended and who can say they have never gone out of the room while there has been a lighted candle in it? To answer the door, check the contents of the oven, answer the landline phone, let the cat out ...
    But I am a magazine junkie and love to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a new magazine!
    Margaret P

  4. Fiona .. this is off topic... but I just want to thank you for the 'what to wear around the home' suggestions. It got me thinking... I haven't gone down the leggings route but I have embraced very stretchy, skinny leg, pull up 'jeans'. Fabulous. I feel dressed. They look great. And because they have no zip or true waist band they are very comfortable. I am 63 yr so leggings are not the look for me. But these skinny stretchy jeans look perfect with a long line top. At last I can get rid of the daily track pants and just keep them for the gym. Judith

  5. I like scented candles and sipping an exotic tea from a beautiful cup and saucer...browsing a lovely magazine or coffee table book. A few pieces of chocolate go a LONG way to perking me up if my mood is low...I take advantage of your other ideas too.
    Getting outdoors for a walk is an instant booster.

    Your blog is a sanctuary...

  6. Regarding your chic manifesto, which I enjoyed reading. One of the things I find un-chic is swearing, especially F bombs with which some bloggers dot their writings. I might be old fashioned but to me it is similar to a lack of personal hygiene. I often stop reading when the blogger starts to swear. What do you think?

  7. 1. Spray my face with rosewater mist. The scent helps shift my mood.

    2. Do something spoiling- curl up with a favorite book and herb tea. Watch a funny movie. I keep humor links on my computer and spend 15 minutes looking at silly pet pictures- just get off after a set time.

    3. Like you, a long walk. Even just taking the dogs out helps.

    4. Dance! I took up bellydance a while back and it's so much fun. Putting on an infectious dance track and doing a little freestyle routine cheers me immensely.

  8. Along with many of the suggestions above... putting on a good historical movie, particularly foreign films with subtitles is my happy place.
    I have to say organizing and clearing clutter, like you Fiona, is a guaranteed mood and energy lifter as well.

    Love your blog!

  9. I find brushing a cat (we have three) is a sure fire mood lifter for me. They enjoy it so much, and it's so nice to bond with a happy little furry friend. Apparently the rubber mitt with the massage nodules is cat heaven! It doesn't have to take very long either, just a few minutes will do.

    I'm also very partial to a foot massage - having someone else doing it is utter bliss of course, but just a 5-minute self-massage with a lovely body lotion or hand cream does wonders for me. My current favourites are L'Occitane shea butter hand cream and Crabtree & Evelyn Summer Hill hand cream - gorgeous, both of them!

  10. Fiona, another great post and thank you. I like going to a coffee shop and spend a couple of hours there reading books and newspapers and browing on the internet with a cup of coffee. It has become a habit. Friends asked me why can't I just make a cup of coffee at home. Well, there are always something I need to do in the house and I cannot relax until they are done. I go running for 30 mins at least twice a week and ballet classes on Sunday. They help me keep fit and relax. I also find candle lighting has calming effect and so has just observing my cat. However, sometimes I just cannot resist my comforting food - crisps and cakes. But, I do repeat to myself of your words, "I like my clothes but not food." to avoid overindulgence.

  11. I love scented candles Fiona. Try the Ecoya ones - I love wild frangipani but if you like coconut try their coconut and elderflower. Living and Giving often hsve 25% off their candles and I stock up when they do :) Thanks for the inspiring post. Aisling

  12. Fiona, your suggestions are all lovely.
    Two activities I like to do when I need a mood change and the refrigerator is calling my name:
    1. Knit. Either an easy project that is repetitive and soothing, or something challenging that totally absorbs my focus.
    2. A bath. Especially in the evening before bed. I like to light a candle and put scented Epsom salt in the water and soak in the bliss! I am so relaxed afterwards that I drift straight in to dreamland.

  13. Fiona, I am so guilty of "I'm a bit bored" activities. I'm definitely a compulsive, emotional online shopper lol. I just love to browse for days! I'm a sucker for pretty things on sale I guess. And I need to do #10 on your list more often. I should start with my laundry haha.

    But I definitely agree with exercise, talking to friends and reading! I'm now volunteering as a guide athlete a couple of times a week which gets me outside and jogging. My post-work mood is instantly lifted even after just a mile or so of moving! I have a 10-15 minute walk back to my apartment from the train station so now I reserve that time (whenever I'm on my way home from somewhere) to make a phone call home to friends or my parents. and of course, reading! books for days. it's so easy for me to binge read novel after novel when I need to recalibrate my mentality.

    I have some book recommendations if you need something new to pick up: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (it's Young Adult literature but it's such a cute story and takes place in Paris!), The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert for chick-lit, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

    Wishing you a chic week,

  14. That flowering shrub is gorgeous. I like to use music and candles to lift my mood. Also organizing and cleaning helps.

  15. Nice red flowers :)
    Maria V.

  16. I love scented candles, happy music and coffee table books. I have lots of art books and I used to buy books from museums that I visited. I change my selections so as not to become cluttered. I also like to walk out of doors. Making soup stock for some reason also lifts my spirit. A good quality cast-iron pot simmering on the stove is very soothing.

  17. Thank you for all your lovely suggestions, it's like we're kindred spirits with the knitting, cats, foot rubs, etc.

    Anonymous, I'm not a big fan of swearing on blogs but each to his own. One of my favourites to read/listen to and learn from is Denise Duffield Thomas ( and she swears all the time, and it suits her!

    Thanks very much Lenna for the book recommendations, they all sound fab.

    Aisling, I LOVE Ecoya candles, they are all so yummy, thanks for the Living and Giving tip, I don't go there often but will now.

    Judith, go the jeggings! Glad I could help.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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