12 Ways to Boost Your Mood Naturally
Life’s stressors can inhibit our ability to maintain optimal mental and physical health. We experience “the blues,” sometimes for prolonged periods of time. These feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and disinterest may be accompanied by symptoms of irritability, nervousness and difficulty sleeping.
Feelings of depression and anxiety are associated with low levels of key neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin and dopamine, in particular, help regulate mood and are also the same signaling pathways in which antidepressant medications are intended to stimulate (2). Numerous factors are important in regulating these chemicals and can also reduce your risk of neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s (3).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that an individual suffering from depression is more prone to anxiety and vice versa (1). Learn how to help boost your mood naturally by increasing those feel good endorphins in your brain using 12 simple strategies.
Vitamin D deficiency is shown to affect those with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities due to the the tendency to stay indoors. Receiving adequate amounts of sunlight daily is a great way to increase natural Vitamin D production. Sunlight exposure stimulates vitamin D which is critical to the function of the central nervous system. Vitamin D acts in the body to maintain homeostasis, boost immunity and scavenge free radicals. (4)
A more specific area of science called photobiology has researchers to believe that sunlight generates electricity inside our bodies. Biophotons are light participles emitted by the sun. Our skin is capable of absorbing these particles, creating reactions in our cells that promote DNA repair and synthesis. (5)
Avocados are a dense source of nutrients containing vitamins, minerals, phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s alone have been shown to support heart and brain health and slow the progression of neurological dysfunction. (6, 20)
Making avocados part of your daily diet regimen can help keep your blues at bay by providing critical nutrients needed to stimulate serotonin and dopamine pathways, decrease fatigue, increase cognitive function and improve mood. Specifically, avocados contain magnesium, vitamins A, C, E, K and B-6, folate, niacin, choline, and riboflavin (6).
3. Grass Fed Dairy Products
Grass fed dairy products including raw milk and fermented yogurts such as Kefir are excellent ways to stabilize your mood. These dairy products contain beneficial bacteria and other substances such as lactic acid which kills off bad bacteria. Supplementing your diet with high quality sources of dairy can prevent harmful bacteria from secreting toxins into tissue and the blood stream leaving you prone to sugar cravings and mood swings.
Feed your gut grass fed dairy products to reduce the toxic burden harmful bacteria can have. Harvesting beneficial bacteria in your gut promotes increased nutrient absorption and a less toxic, less stressed and less irritable you. If you have a dairy intolerance be sure to avoid dairy and consider using coconut milk and coconut milk yogurt.
4. Green Smoothies
Smoothies are easy on the digestive system and packed with phytonutrients ready for absorption. Phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables are powerful antioxidants and can be utilized as nature’s best antidepressant medicine. Nutrients elevate your metabolism, lift your energy and relieve anxiety.
Green, mood boosting foods include kale, spinach, cabbage, cruciferous vegetable sprouts are all excellent ways to pack your smoothie with a powerful antioxidant punch. Compounds in these foods protect brain activity, stimulate glutathione production, and regulate neurological pathways in the brain. As a result green smoothies fight inflammation, prevent your risk of developing neurological disorders, and preserve memory function. (7)
5. Coconut Oil and Butter
Nutrition is perhaps one of the greatest influences on your mood and can be avoided with healthy fats and antioxidants. Coconut and coconut butter can improve your mood by stimulating synthesis of dopamine and serotonin. Coconut fats are high in medium chain trigylceride (MCT) fats. (18)
6. Nuts, Seeds and Chocolate
Nuts and seeds like almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chia and flax seeds are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which support brain function (10). These nuts and seeds regulate blood sugar levels and are rich in B vitamins and magnesium which reduce anxiety and your risk of depression. (11)
Dark chocolate, 70% cacao or greater, is an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium relaxes the nerves, relieves muscle tension and reduces excitability and irritation.
7. Stevia Based Desserts
Desserts sweetened with stevia are not only sugar free, but they taste great and are a healthy alternative to conventional sweeteners. Unlike sugar, stevia does not create inflammation but rather it fights it. Unlike sugar, stevia does not cause a spike in blood sugar, it balances it. (12, 13)
Stevia contains polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and the popular mood booster magnesium. Stevia increases endorphin productions relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety by aiding the body in antioxidant protection. (13)
8. Good Hydration
Drinking purified water containing minerals can help boost your mood by removing the heavy burden of toxins in your system. The blood can be used as a dumping ground for toxins which circulate through organs including the brain. Lemon water helps to neutralize the pH of the body and remove toxin waste. (14)
9. Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature is believed to lift your mood and rid you of the blues by allowing the mind and body time to reconnect with the Earth’s natural energy. In a practice called grounding, studies show that activities such as walking barefoot outside, sitting on the roots of a tree or gardening relieves the human body of symptoms of anxiety and depression. (17)
10. Laughter and Exercise
Harvard Medical School recommends exercising at least 3 times each week in order to reduce your risk of dementia and other health conditions (8). Exercise improves cholesterol levels, blood sugar regulation and blood pressure. Exercising also stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain that give you that feel good work out pleasure response.
Laughter truly is one of the best forms of exercise for the organs and muscle in your body. Laughter stimulates organs such as the heart and lungs and as a result also exercises the stress response pathways. Activating the stress response through laughter promotes a calm and pleasurable feeling following along with soothed muscles and a reduction in pain. (9)
11. Good Sleeping Habits
Lack of proper sleeping habits increases the duration of cortisol circulating through the body causing a cyclic and downward health spiral. Sleeping, especially between the hours of 10pm and 2am reduces cortisol and encourages the production of feel good hormones in the body.
12. Personal Care
Our lifestyle habits leave our bodies susceptible to toxins which disrupt neurological processes. People with depression have been shown to have high levels of inflammation in their bodies which essentially triggers mood swings (15). Dry brushing is a technique that removes toxins by opening up pores and promoting lymphatic flow beneath the skin’s surface (16).
Magnesium is an anti-stress mineral which stimulates serotonin production to improve mood. Taking an Epsom salt bath daily removes toxins from your body and better absorbs magnesium through the skin. In addition, getting massage therapy can be extremely uplifting and rejuvenating!