7 ways to boost your mood
Your day-night rhythm and light exposure is closely linked to your mood.
Try to live in sync with natural day-night rhythms by reducing bright and blue-white light (including screens) use at night and getting some natural daylight or good blue-white light in the morning.
(If you struggle a lot with seasonal affected disorder or depression you can consider getting a wake-up light.
2. Feel good morning ritual
If you do not have a feel good morning ritual yet, go do some research about it and create one that works for you.
You can start your day with some nice tea, remind yourself of what you need to be grateful for, do certain stretch or other exercises and listen to your favourite feel-good music. There are many ways to approach this, but whatever you do, make sure you purposefully fill your mind with something positive first thing in the morning.
When it is cold, find a tea or a warm drink that does not contain caffeine, sugar or milk that you can drink all day.
You can have your 1-2 coffees or black teas too, but you need a warming drink you can have a lot of. There are a variety of wonderful herbal or spicy teas out there. Alternatively, you could make your own hot water mix with ginger alone, ginger and lemon, rose and ginger, rooibos and fennel, rooibos and ginger or cinnamon, cardamom, and all kinds of exciting tastes.
If otherwise you drink caffeine or sugar containing drinks all day to stay warm you put your mind on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs instead of keeping it in a happy place.
Focus on your do’s and not your don’ts.
Plan 2-3 warming and colourful meals for every day. Have lots of vegetables. Cook extra of your comforting and warming curries, stews and soups to freeze so you don’t need to cook every day. Foods with special mood support containing micronutrients include oats, eggs, chicken, fish, cheese, spinach, leafy greens, avocado, chia seeds, cocoa, and a variety of nuts and seeds.
Bake your own healthy muffins, biscuits and rusks and substitute commercial flour with wheat-free-stoneground/gluten free or even better: nuts, seeds and oats (even gluten free oats) combined in a food processor. Sweeten with xylitol, honey, agave syrup, berries, apples or dates instead of refined sugar. Use real vanilla and cinnamon to reduce the need for sweetness. Bake with real butter, buttermilk instead of milk and use top quality eggs only – preferably pasture reared.
Various micronutrients are essential co-factors in producing feel-good brain messengers, such as serotonin. Most of these are contained in excellent multi-nutrient formulas.
Vitamin B6, Zinc and Magnesium are particularly important in keeping the mood up and the hormones balanced.
Omega 3 has been proven over and over again to be essential to keep the mood and mind balanced. Because of the way our diets have changed we do not get enough of this anymore, except if you are having wild caught fatty fish often. If not, supplement it.
Folate and vitamin B12 are also important for balanced brain chemistry.
There are many special mood enhancing herbs and micronutrients, such as St John’s Wort, Sceletium and 5-HTP. However, those who are already using anti-depressant medication should not take these together with their medication.
One mood supporting food supplement that deserves special mention is an extract of saffron. Saffron extract is not only very effective, it has also been shown to be safe to take in combination with other anti-depressant drugs. (Still check with your doctor before you take supplements if you are on chronic medication.) Further to that, saffron extract has also been shown to reverse the side-effects, for both men and women, of sexual function impairment related to taking prescription anti-depressant drugs.
Exercise has so many benefits, including keeping your mind and mood balanced. Not everyone needs the same type of exercise, but we all need to move enough and often. If you can’t get yourself motivated to move, make an appointment for a walk, a swim, a hike, a gym session, dance, kick-box, whatever it is. Just make sure you move. If you have aches and pains or injuries, get help to start exercising. Consider making an appointment with a biokineticist to get you moving with exercises specific to your body strength and needs.
7. Get warm
Being cold all the time is very stressful and stress is certainly not good for your mood.
Dress yourself warm when you go out, move to get the circulation going and when you get home keep warm. Create a warm space in your home where you don’t need 5 layers of warm clothes to relax in the temperature you are in. You might need to be creative to achieve this, but do it!
Going for a sauna or steam room session can also help you relax and warm-up regularly during the cold season.
And last, but not the least: Don’t worry, be happy! There will always be good and bad around you.
Keep your mind focussed on what is good. Live with an attitude of gratitude!