It’s no surprise that in this ‘always on’ culture 4 out of 5 adults feel stressed in a typical week. Plus 1 in 6 people suffer with a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression each week. Stress, anxiety and depression take away our usual happiness and replace it with feelings of anxiousness, sadness, loneliness and even anger sometimes. Unfortunately these unwanted feelings have a detrimental effect on our bodies too, not just our mood. They can cause sleepless nights, panic disorders and are even related to diabetes and heart disease.
Even being in a bad mood that isn’t clinical depression or stress has a negative impact on our brain by releasing dangerous stress hormones:
‘Feeling down in the dumps can alter levels of stress-related chemicals in your brain. These chemicals can increase inflammatory proteins in your blood—the kind associated with heart disease, stroke, and metabolic syndrome.’ source
It’s no good to be in a bad mood. Sure, we all get stressed occasionally and have bad days, but it’s best to try and prevent this as much as possible. If the low mood is not improving after a couple of weeks and seems unusual, then do seek professional help, but if you can, try to help yourself too. I used to be on antidepressants in my early twenties triggered by a variety of things, but the best thing I did was to stop taking them and start making some lifestyle choices. I’d much rather be naturally happy than have to pop a pill to be happy. I appreciate this doesn’t work for everyone and some people have serious mental problems, in which case you should not stop your medication and talk to your doctor if you want to come off.
There are several lifestyle choices and natural ways to help boost your mood, so incorporate these into your week to help lift your mood naturally:
The hardest part is getting started, but make a commitment to yourself and start exercising on a regular basis each and every week. Once you get into it, you’ll start to enjoy it and see the benefits that come with it. You’ll start feeling happier, healthier and fitter. Plus your quality of sleep will improve. Exercise is a great mood booster. Find a local class you enjoy and you might even make some new friends. If you are too shy to go to a class at first, then search YouTube where you’ll find hundreds of exercise videos for free. Even just take a walk around the block each day. It doesn’t always have to be a full on workout, even little and often bursts will help.
There’s no denying I and many others suffer with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). My mood is terrible in the winter and noticeably happier in the summer. It’s so important to get as much natural light in the winter as possible. Position your work desk next to a window. Take a walk outdoors on your lunch break. Escape into the countryside at the weekends. Try to avoid going to work in the dark, sitting in artificial light all day and then returning home in the dark. Squeeze as much daylight into your day as you can.
Sometimes all we need to boost our mood is one hour or so with a good friend. Arrange a catch up, dinner or cuppa with a friend who always makes you feel good. Avoid negative energy friends who criticize, judge and zap you of your energy.
If you eat rubbish you’ll feel rubbish. The saying ‘you are what you eat’ is so true. It’s very important to follow a healthy mainly plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. Add as many superfoods into your diet to make you feel super. They say chocolate makes you happy and it’s true! I’m not sure the sugar loaded conventional chocs will have the effect your looking for, not long term anyway, but raw cacao is delicious and boosts the serotonin in the brain giving happy feelings. Eat the most nutritious foods you can find and your body and mind will thank you for it.
‘Walnuts, kiwi, bananas, sour cherries, pineapple, tomatoes, and plums are all naturally high in serotonin and ideal grocery list items for anyone overcoming depression.’ source
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for the health of your body and mind. If I don’t get enough sleep my mood is seriously affected the next day and I’m way more irritable. The Sleep Foundation recommends adults aged between 18 and 64 need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Are you getting enough? It’s certainly tricky with two young children who can sometimes wake up several times per night or if you have thoughts racing through your mind, so try these tips to get a better night’s sleep:
Well it may be fun to experience the short term effects of alcohol, it is important to remember it is a drug which alters our brain chemistry affecting our feelings, thoughts and actions. It’s a depressant. I no longer drink alcohol and I’m certain when I did it affected my moods and especially my feelings about things. Alcohol is linked to depression, memory loss and suicide, yet still over 9 out of 10 adults drink alcohol in the UK (source). I no longer drink alcohol and haven’t for approximately 7 years. I don’t want poison in my body and I don’t want to suffer any ill effects, short or long term. Most people, however, see drinking alcohol as the norm and people like me are alternative. Alcohol can cause depression and hangovers can cause anxiousness and worry. It’s best to reduce your alcohol consumption and even better to cut it out altogether.
Most people don’t meditate, but it is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it can even be as effective as pills for depression. There is a mindfulness movement at the moment, so perhaps it will increase in popularity. I have practiced yoga for meditation and I feel much calmer on the days I do. I must make it habitual. Meditation focuses on the here and now, clearing the mind of its clutter and promoting calm. There are lots of different forms of meditation and you can even attend classes to learn different methods.
‘A research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2014 found meditation helpful for relieving anxiety, pain, and depression. For depression, meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.’ source
Listen to music
Since having children I forget to listen to music, yet I used to listen to it almost all day long every day, so I will now make a conscious effort to listen to more. Music can help to alleviate stress, boost mood and it can even reduce physical pain. Music therapy can help with depression. Discover which music comforts you, makes you feel happy and upbeat and listen daily. Music is subjective, so find the type that works for you.
Hopefully these tips will help to naturally boost your mood. Start incorporating them into your weekly routine and reap the benefits.