Winston Churchill once said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” But let’s face it, even with the most positive outlook, negative experiences still have the potential to wreak havoc on our moods.
Imagine any of these scenarios: Someone cuts you off in traffic, you get a parking ticket, you tear your favorite jeans, you have to stay late at work, there’s a huge line at the grocery store, your alarm doesn’t go off, a friend cancels plans last minute. Any of these situations may threaten to take even the healthiest of us from a state of bliss into a spiral of frustration and anger.
So what about the 40 million Americans who struggle with anxiety and depression every day? What things can we do to set ourselves up for success in the battle against a mood disorder? Alongside traditional medications, there are many mood boosting techniques that can help us ward off negative thoughts and emotions in a natural way.
What We Put In = What We Get Out
Did you know that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract? This means that the digestive system is widely responsible for regulating sleep, appetite, and moods. For a natural way to walk on the bright side, choose a diet packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Avoid foods that result in blood sugar spikes because even though these types of treats often satisfy cravings, they negatively affect your mood by resulting in an energy crash.
Foods to say YES to:
Fish and seafood
Foods to say NO to:
White rice and bread
Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
Give Your Body an Extra Boost of Vitamins
While we receive many vitamins from the foods we eat, sometimes it is necessary to take additional supplements to really give our bodies and minds what they need to keep us mentally healthy.
In addition to choosing a diet full of mood boosting foods, consider taking a probiotic, a supplement that promotes “good bacteria” necessary to properly digest. Probiotics reduce anxiety levels, the perception of stress, and improve mental outlook.
Recent studies show that Omega-3 supplements reduce inflammation and lead to healthier brain cells, which is the first line of defense in fighting mood disorders. It’s hard to get enough Omega-3 from diet alone, which has led to the rise of fish oil supplements. More than 3,000 studies have been published on the health benefits of fish oil, including battling depression and improving emotional well being. Research also suggests fish oil supplements increase the effectivity of antidepressants and other medical treatments.
Ever wonder why cloudy skies sometimes make you feel sad? Because sunlight is a source of vitamin D, a micronutrient that, when low, contributes to depression. To ensure you are getting enough of this critical mood booster, spend 15 minutes a day in the sun or take a vitamin D supplement.
Stay mentally stabilized with adequate amounts of vitamin B. Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are proven mood regulators, and many of those struggling with disorders such as depression and anxiety test deficient. If you suspect you may not be receiving enough B vitamins from diet alone, consult a doctor on introducing a supplement into your health regimen.
Little Lifestyle Changes Go a Long Way
Everyone knows that exercise is good for physical health, but did you know that it also provides many mental health benefits? Exercise reduces stress, releases endorphins (which create feelings of happiness), alleviates anxiety, boosts brain power, sharpens memory, inspires creativity, and improves confidence. Remember: You don’t have to run a marathon to reap these benefits. Even a long walk is enough to get your endorphins flowing!
When you wake up in the morning, do you feel rested? Are you often on the verge of falling asleep in the middle of your day? If you aren’t getting enough hours of shut eye, you are more at risk for mood disorders such as anxiety and depression! To ensure a full night’s rest, create a consistent routine in which you receive 7-9 hours of sleep a night. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person so be sure to check in with yourself and do what’s best for your body.
In the midst of your busy schedule, are you setting aside time to relax? Our bodies require downtime in order to recharge. A simple mid-day meditation session is guaranteed to help you fight stress and improve your mood.
The Ultimate Craving: Connection
More and more studies are being conducted on how to achieve lifelong happiness and the results are consistently the same. The answer is not money, fame, or notoriety. It is connection. Even the most introverted humans still require interaction and meaningful relationships to feel happy! Loneliness not only impacts your immune system, it also can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. An ongoing study—that first began 75 years ago—strongly indicates that interpersonal relationships have the greatest effect on health and happiness. The takeaway? Surround yourself with positive people, express gratitude for their companionship, and live your best, happiest life.
“We believe that addiction is characterized by a profound sense of disconnection, and that the antidote to this problem comes from engagement in a loving experience of community.” – Alo House Recovery Center Manifesto