7 Ways to Boost Your Mood Naturally
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to not only check in on the emotional well-being of those around you, but your own, too.
If you find yourself feeling blue, there are alternatives to over-the-counter and prescription medications — alternatives that are natural and healthy.
These easy mood-boosters will have you feeling happy in no time. For best results, combine two or more!
Many studies have been conducted — and concluded — that exercise can boost your mood, an effect that can be felt in as little as five minutes.
Those who exercise are:
- Less sensitive to anxiety
- Less likely to panic
- Less likely to be depressed
Exercise can offer a healthy distraction from your troubles, improve your self-confidence, and warm up your body temperature, which has calming effects.
If you feel good after you work out, it’s because exercising releases endorphins, neurotransmitters and other “feel-good” chemicals to the brain. You really can’t help but feel good after breaking a sweat. It also reduces levels of chemicals that cause or intensify depression.
It’s so good for your mood that it’s actually just as good — if not, better — than antidepressants. And it’s all-natural, so we couldn’t be happier.
How to exercise more:
- Set recurring calendar alerts
- Track your fitness, steps and calorie intake
- Make plans to work out with friends
- Find a physical activity you enjoy
- Plan your schedule around your workout
- Join a gym or fitness studio near your home or work
Surrounding yourself with good company can help you feel happier. Socializing has been found to improve mental health and reduce the risk of developing dementia, but it also improves your mood and reduces depression.
Studies have found that after socializing with others, people report better mental health and well-being.
And your friends don’t have to be human. Spend some time with a furry friend, and you’ll experience some mood-lifting effects, too.
How to socialize more: We all have busy schedules, but it’s important to take time out for yourself. Here are some ways you can fill up your social calendar more:
- Skype with friends and family who are far away
- Make an exercise routine with a friend
- Commit to social plans in advance
- Initiate social plans
- Attend social or professional networking events
- Find affordable ways to socialize, such as going for a walk, so there’s no financial excuse
- Join a club or group
3. Healthy Diet
Evidence is lacking in terms of that claim that a well-balanced diet enhances mood (though there could be a case for probiotics having numerous mental benefits) — but there’s no shortage of data proving that a poor diet can actually worsen your mood.
Indirectly, a poor diet often leads to obesity, which in turn harms self-confidence and happiness. Eventually, this can lead to depression. High calorie and saturated fat intake have also been linked to obesity.
On a more direct level, carbohydrates can cause fatigue, while caffeine can lead to depression.
How to eat a healthier diet:
- Limit alcohol, as it has been linked to feelings of depression
- Eat natural, whole foods
- Start your day with a balanced breakfast
- Create a healthy-eating plan to stick to with a friend
- Get everyone in the family on board
- Limit intake of trigger foods
- Don’t store unhealthy foods in your home
4. Vitamin C & D
If you don’t get enough vitamin C, you could feel depressed and fatigued. In studies, hospital patients who were given vitamin C experienced improved moods.
Vitamin D was also found to improve mood and reduce psychological distress, according to research.
How to get more vitamin C and D:
- Fruits like cantaloupe, citrus fruits and juices, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, watermelon, tomatoes (they’re a fruit!) and tomato juice
- Vegetables including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes and winter squash
- Natural sunlight
Spirituality can mean a number of things to different people, and many find it through yoga, meditation and prayer. These are all activities that have been found to enhance your mood.
Studies have found that yoga reduces stress, anxiety, fatigue, tension, depression, anger and hostility. It also increases calm, restorative, tranquil and energetic feelings — effects that can felt after just one class.
Moreover, it has been proven to improve quality of life for seniors. And the controlled breathing exercises also decrease depression.
How to be more spiritual:
- Make it a habit
- Set a recurring calendar alert
- Find coupons for yoga or meditation classes so it’s more affordable
- Make plans to do it with friends
- Pre-book (and pre-pay for) your classes so you’re committed
For some, reading is a chore. For others, it’s a gateway to new worlds.
Regardless of the group of readers you fit into, there’s no denying that this habit can make you feel happier. Research has found that people gain a feeling of accomplishment when they read, which naturally brightens your spirits.
But reading can do more than bring a smile to your face. It’s actually a catalyst for personal development and growth; it’s so powerful that it can actually change you, for the better.
How to read more:
- Set a recurring calendar alarm
- Make it a habit
- Join a book club, in person or online
- Sign up for a site like Goodreads, and encourage your friends and family to do the same
- Make a goal for the number of books you want to read every year
7. St. John’s Wort
Though it might sound gross, St. John’s wort actually comes from a pretty flower, and if the thought of flowers doesn’t make you happy on its own, St. John’s wort will.
The naturally occurring mood-enhancer is prescribed four times more than prescription antidepressant Prozac in Germany, and it’s used to treat mild to moderate depression.
Though the evidence is inconclusive, many believe that St. John’s wort contains a compound that regulates brain chemicals. Whether that’s true or not, one thing’s certain: St. John’s wort has fewer side effects than prescription and over-the-counter antidepressants.
Despite the naysayers, there has been some conclusive evidence of the benefits of St. John’s wort: It lessens the severity of physical and emotional symptoms of PMS, and it can improve seasonal affective disorder (SAD). We won’t argue with that.
How to get more St. John’s wort: St. John’s wort supplements are available at most drug stores. Consult your doctor before incorporating St. John’s wort into your health and wellness routine.