Simple Daily Habits to Boost Your Mood
By Stephanie James
If Abraham Lincoln was right when he said “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be,” then making the choice to be happier would be easy. The truth is that our behavior, habits and even what we eat has a big impact on our mood. A few simple changes to our daily routine can make all the difference when it comes to boosting our mood and delivering feelings of happiness and contentment. Below are five of the quickest ways to boost your mood.
What we choose to eat has a massive influence on our gut health, and the hormones and chemicals that our body is able to produce. If you’ve had a bad day or you simply woke up feeling down, you might be tempted to reach for a tub of ice cream or bar of chocolate. Unfortunately, any feelings of contentment will be short lived. While a healthy diet improves our overall health, there are certain foods that also have the ability to help lift your mood. Brazil nuts, bananas, and lentils contain vitamins and nutrients that our bodies can turn into beneficial hormones like serotonin, tryptophan and melatonin.
Lean poultry has amino acids called tyrosine which reduce symptoms of depression and is also used to make adrenaline. Oats boost your mood in two ways – by keeping blood sugar levels stable and providing a mineral known as selenium which boosts mood directly.
Exercise is not only great for the body, but for it's great for the mind as well. People who exercise regularly have less risk of depression and anxiety. This is because regular exercise causes changes in our brain as well as our bodies. Exercise promotes brain growth, reduces inflammation and stimulates feelings of calm and well-being through the release of endorphins that make you feel good and dampen our pain response.
It’s not just the endorphins released during exercise that will boost your mood though. Regular exercise also boosts the production of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) a protein produced by our brain which is associated with cognitive improvement and the relief of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, morning exercise provides all of these benefits and makes good use of our cortisol levels, which start climbing in the early hours of the morning to help us wake, giving a great mood boosting start to your day that will last through to bedtime.
Sleep is imperative for optimal functioning of our mind and body. While we slumber, our bodies get to work repairing tissue, storing memories and consolidating the things we have learned through the day. If you are lacking in quality sleep that allows you to cycle through all four stages of rest, your immune system, mood and mental clarity will be lacking too.
Getting enough sleep means making sure you have time to get somewhere between seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Skimping during the week and trying to make up for it with long sleep-ins over the weekend won’t work either; it’ll simply throw your circadian rhythms off and make it even more difficult to sleep the next week.
No matter what the weather, getting outside each day can help improve your mood. As our bodies are unable to get enough vitamin D from our food, getting exposure to UVB rays by heading outdoors into the sunshine is necessary for our basic health and well-being.
Getting out in natural settings such as parks, beaches and woodlands has been proven to increase our creativity, improve our relationships, and even boost our memory! One study found a few days of ‘forest bathing’ reduced levels of cortisol and boosted immune function. Just a short trip to the forest is thought to be akin to a session of aromatherapy in terms of stress relief, yet the benefits are far more varied.
Small, simple changes to our daily habits can boost our mood and set us up for increased enjoyment of our lives. Take care of what you eat, exercise daily, sleep well and spend time outdoors to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression and increase feelings of happiness, contentment and overall well-being.