Mood Enhancers: Improve Your Mood the Natural Way
Highs and Lows are a Common Part of Life
We all experience ups and downs. In everyday life we deal with the stress of trying to maintain a balance between work and home while raising children, perhaps caring for elderly parents, maybe planning on retirement, while hoping there will be enough money to do so.
We're either healthy and trying to stay that way or dealing with the high cost of taking care of ongoing health issues. Along the way we're hoping to find time to relax and have a little fun. Highs and lows are a common part of life but there are some easy and natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood and health, relax and get happy!
Improve Your Nutrition
- Eat foods that are higher in protein and healthy fats. These foods will increase and sustain your energy level
- Have some turkey! It contains Tryptophan that is converted to Serotonin which is a natural mood elevator. Other sources of Tryptophan include chocolate, bananas, fish, figs, peanuts, cottage cheese, leafy green vegetables and whole grain pasta
- Supplement your diet with B Vitamins that can be depleted with stress and can cause irritability and depression. Leafy green vegetables are a great source of a of B Vitamins.
- Supplement your diet with Calcium and combine it with Vitamin D which will help you to absorb it better. Women with fluctuating or depleted levels of Estrogen, which regulates Calcium, and those with PMS can improve their mood swings with supplemental Calcium. Low fat dairy foods such as skim milk and yogurt can boost your level of calcium!
- Zinc can be depleted with stress and may cause mood swings and agitation. Zinc may help regulate hormones, such as Progesterone, that can be associated with menstrual difficulties and PMS.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Omega 3 improves heart health
- It strengthens the immune system
- It is a major building block for optimal brain chemistry and can improve memory and the ability to concentrate
- It can reduce the risk of ADHD and depression
- Good sources of Omega 3 include fish, certain nuts and oils
- Salmon, Mackeral, Lake Trout and Sardines are especially high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
Get Some Sun!
- Exposure to sun, in moderation of course, is important for the production of Seratonin and increases your level of Vitamin D.
- Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to depressive moods. Supplemental Vitamin D may help alleviate the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is suffered in the winter months when exposure to sunlight is decreased.
Improve your sleep
- Interrupted sleep can lower mood, decrease optimal daytime functioniong, impair thinking and decision making and cause anxiety
- Try to be consistent with bedtime and waking hours.
- Sleep 6-8 hours nightly and make sure your room is dark
- Did you know that low Melatonin levels may cause depression?
- If you have difficulty falling asleep you can take supplemental Melatonin 30 minutes before you plan on going to sleep. Make sure you are in a darkened room! It will not work if you are reading a book while wating for it to take effect.
Mindfulness meditation uses a focal point. It is focused on breathing, possibly looking at a flame, paying close attention to the present moment and not allowing your mind to wander. During this practice you are asking yourself how you feel about it, is it good for you?
Meditation uses breathing to relax and release tension, it is doing something good for yourself on purpose, allowing yourself to surrender, "letting go".
Meditation reduces stress, increases calmness and clarity and can promote happiness. It uses breathing as a focus and may include a Mantra that is repeated over and over again.
I started meditating on a daily basis about six weeks ago and I find it very relaxing. My meditation lasts about 15 minutes. I listen to a calm voice that tells me to deeply inhale a beautiful bright light and release my tension and anxiety when I exhale. As I focus on my breathing and clear my mind I visualize myself climbing onto a magnificent winged creature that takes me to a tranquil place where I am totally at peace. This meditation is called "Get on Your Bird", quite a funny title, and was shared by Colette Baron-Reid during an interview presented by Hay House.
A recent study by the American Heart Association focused on insightful mindfulness, Zen and relaxation found meditation is linked to decreased stress, depression and levels of anxiety, improves sleep and has a positive impact on overall wellbeing.
A year long clinical trial published in the AMA Internal Medicine Journal used two groups of older adults. One group was educated on behaviors for the development of good sleep hygiene that included going to bed at a regular time without having used caffeine or alcohol during the evening hours. The other group was given a 6 week program on mindful meditation with a certified instructor. This group experienced a greater improvement in their quality of sleep and had fewer symptoms of depression and fatigue.
- Exercise increases your levels of Tryptophan and Serotonin, which natuarally elevates your mood.
- Increase your level of Endorphins, another natural mood elevator, when you exercise vigorously. This release of endorphins - the "runner's high" - can make you feel happy and calm.
Another natural approach is Aromatherapy, which is the use of essential oils and other aromatic compounds that can alter a person's mood, mind and cognitive function and improve physical and psychological well being. Certain scents can evoke memories that bring you pleasure and have a calming effect. You can find many uses for a variety of essential oils and recipes to make your own!
You will have fun researching essential oils and how they can benefit you! You should also note precautions and other safety measures to be taken, especially when it comes to direct application on the skin or inhalation.
Always Consult Your Physician
There are many natural ways for one to enhance their emotional well being but it is always prudent to consult your Physician when choosing an alternative method. If you are taking prescribed medication do not stop taking it or try a substitute without consulting your Physician.