Have you been feeling rather blue or a little sluggish lately? You’re certainly not alone! But while it can often feel like an uphill battle trying to lift your mood when you’re feeling down, the good news is that there are plenty of natural mood boosters that you can add to your daily routine (and yes, they are all backed by science!). So the next time you’re feeling low, why not try out these mood-enhancing tips that you can implement within minutes!
Soak up some sunshine
Even though the sunshine feels chilly during autumn and winter, it’s still around! Did you know that the amount of light and sunshine we get can influence serotonin levels (the “happy” hormone that affects appetite, mood and sleep)? It will also help you produce Vitamin D. Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip which can lead to low energy and low mood. An easy way to increase your sun exposure is by wrapping up and heading outdoors. Even taking a short stroll over your lunch break or playing outdoors with your kids can go a long way, even if it is chilly. In fact, studies suggest that even 30 minutes of sunshine exposure is enough to boost levels of serotonin! Not to mention.
Increase your intake of mood-boosting foods
What you consume affects your emotional health just as much as it influences your physical and mental health. And although it might be tempting to reach for some of your favourite comfort foods when feeling low, studies suggest that eating unprocessed plant-based foods is a great way to keep the blues away. Why not fill your plate with dark leafy greens that are rich in the mood-moderating mineral magnesium. Those of us who get more magnesium in our diet tend to be happier as magnesium stimulates receptors of a calming hormone called GABA and inhibits the stress hormone cortisol, thereby reducing feelings of anxiety and worry. To help you reach your daily magnesium requirements, load up on greens, avocados, legumes, whole grains, and dark chocolate!
Speaking of dark chocolate, studies also suggest that dark chocolate contain potent compounds associated with the feel-good chemicals in the brain! Thanks to its tryptophan content, an amino acid that assists our body in producing serotonin (a well-known mood lifter), and a compound called phenylethylamine, a chemical which stimulates the pleasure centres in the brain to boost endorphins (one of the happy hormones) and anandamide (the bliss chemical) levels, dark chocolate is a delicious way to help us relax and boost our mood!
Another effective mood-boosting boosting ingredient to add to your daily menu is the herbal spice known as ginger root. Ginger root contains powerful derivatives such as gingerol, shogaols and galanolactone that are thought to boost dopamine levels (also known as the feel-good hormone) and also directly interact with serotonin receptors to positively influence serotonin levels in the body. Why not spice up your life with our Raw Turmeric & Ginger shots to help boost those happy hormones!
Other mood-boosting foods include raw nuts, goji berries, seeds, lentils, whole grains and turmeric. Find out more about the mood boosting benefits of turmeric root here.
Take care of your gut bacteria
Our gut bacteria produce many of our ‘happy hormones’ including serotonin and dopamine- in fact, 95% of our serotonin is made in our gut! Researchers have found that a healthy gut can produce optimal amounts of the ‘happy hormones’ dopamine and serotonin and can positively influence our brain/mood. On the other hand, an unhealthy gut environment is likely to produce only a low amount of mood-elevating neurotransmitters and can go on to negatively impact mood. So it makes sense to nurture our gut bacteria! You can easily boost and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut by eating more fibre rich foods such as beans, asparagus, pears, carrots, bananas and leeks. You can also take care of your gut by taking probiotics (good bacteria) that can help support a healthy gut microbiome. You can increase the number of probiotics in your body by consuming fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and kefir.
Try to get active
Staying active is a great way to raise those mood-boosting chemicals including serotonin and endorphins. Studies even suggest that you can feel the mood-boosting effects of exercising in as little as five minutes! Cardiovascular exercises can be particularly beneficial, but if you find yourself feeling too exhausted to work out, taking a moment to move around- even for just a few minutes can help elevate your mood.
Make yourself some Matcha tea
This nutritious Japanese green tea powder contains a unique amino acid known as theanine, which is responsible for producing dopamine and serotonin, the two chemicals that naturally improve your mood, memory and improve alertness. It is also considered to increase alpha waves in the brain, which are known for slowing down brain functioning and promoting a sense of relaxation. If you haven’t tried matcha before, why not try adding matcha tea to your pancake batter, mix it in your chia pudding, to your smoothie or even your latte.
Take some time to zen out
In addition to physical exercise, practising mindful exercises such as mindful meditation can help to calm your mind and body. The great thing is that meditation can be carried out any time of the day- even when carrying out something as simple as breathing, cooking, eating or exercising. When you take a moment to relax the mind, the mind and body work together to naturally reduce your pulse rate and trigger a stream of endorphins in the body. This effect results in a calm, zen and blissed state of being.