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How to Use Food and Exercise to Improve Your Mood

Updated on November 23, 2013

We all get a little cranky from time to time. Maybe we’re exhausted from work, or we just can’t seem to find enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we have to do.

Perhaps our families are stressing us out, or our friends seem to be overly critical of our every move. All of these things are very real factors that can cause stress, and unfortunately, they’re often unavoidable.

The good news is this: you can make small lifestyle changes to help yourself manage the stress of your everyday interactions. Believe it or not, the way you eat and how often you exercise can have a huge impact on how stressed or moody you feel.

Your to-do list isn't going to get any shorter, and it’s not likely that your boss will stop being demanding any time soon. But you can brighten your mood and improve the way you deal with stress through some simple diet and exercise tips.

Follow these suggestions and you’ll be feeling sunnier and more energized in no time.

Stay hydrated

It’s tempting to want to guzzle coffee all day long when you feel like you’ve got endless heaps of things to accomplish.

But the truth is, this will only make you feel worse.Too much caffeine can lead you to feel jittery and impatient, which only compounds the feelings of stress.

Moreover, you could be headed for a massive caffeine crash, which can actually make you feel sad and depleted. Of course, a cup or two of java a day is fine, but make sure you’re sipping water regularly. Hydration can prevent mood-killers such as headaches and bloating, and it helps you feel fresh and energized.

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Eat fresh foods as often as possible

Let’s be honest after you down a big mac and a large order of French fries, the last thing you want to do is take on the day. Overconsumption of greasy, processed foods can make you feel bogged-down and lethargic, which isn’t good for anyone’s mood.

It’s shocking how much happier and lighter you will feel if you swap that burger combo for a fresh and colorful salad. You’ll have more energy and you won’t feel tinged with regret about a calorie-buster of a lunch.

Get enough sleep

Nothing makes the world seem bleak and hopeless like a few nights of sleep deprivation. If you make sleep a priority, you’ll feel brighter and more alert, which will both serve to improve your mood and help you manage stressful situations.

Everyone’s sleep requirements are different, but most experts say that getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night will help you feel refreshed and energized. Plus, if you get enough sleep, you’ll be less prone to chug coffee and overeat, which can both be detrimental to your mood and overall mental health.

Try to get yourself on a good sleep routine, and watch as your life suddenly appears much less stressful.

Make movement a part of your everyday routine

Sitting around all day does nothing to improve your happiness in fact, studies show that people who don’t exercise are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety than people who do. Plus, everyone knows that exercises releases endorphins, which are nature’s way of making you feel happier, more excited, and ready to take on the day.

Ideally, strive to get at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week to keep yourself feeling stable and stress-free. Bonus points if you exercise outdoors we all know how beneficial being outdoors can be for our mood.

Even if you can’t fit in a full cardio blast, taking short but brisk walks throughout the day can help to clear your mind and improve concentration, which is a great stress reliever.

Don’t use unhealthy habits to cope when you’re stressed

Sometimes, we respond to difficult emotional stimuli with bad habits such as overeating, drinking, or smoking. Unfortunately, these coping mechanisms have such negative side effects that they usually end up creating stressful situations of their own!

Think of healthy ways to deal with stress or sadness, such as deep meditative breathing or a hot cup of tea. Remember to turn to these practices when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, rather than reaching for a donut, a cocktail, or a cigarette.

You’ll feel brighter and happier, and your long-term health will be better for it.

Our bodies and minds are much more interconnected than we think. Stress and other difficult emotions such as sadness or anxiety can have a negative impact on our health they can cause us to lose sleep, overeat, or pick up bad habits.

Fortunately, the reverse is true as well healthy habits can help us deal with these emotions and improve our mood. Try these tips to manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle in all situations.

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