There’s no way around it, everyone feels down from time to time. Sometimes it is a response to things going on in life, but it can also be due to nutritional deficiencies and your body’s chemistry. Although many factors can contribute to feelings of sadness, which can lead to depression, there are things you can do to help battle the blues.
This article focuses on three things you can do to naturally enhance your mood: sleep, nutrition and exercise. These work best when done in conjunction with talk therapy with a licensed professional, and by seeing your healthcare provider to rule out underlying conditions that may be lowering your energy.
Focus on the Big 3: Sleeping, Eating, Moving
There are many things you can’t control in life, but you can have a serious impact on three areas that directly affect your mood: Sleeping, eating and moving.
- Sleep: Prioritize sleep by creating a relaxing routine that puts you in a calm state of mind. Use gentle lighting and scents to further create a comforting environment. Meditate or listen to tranquil music or sounds to help shift your thoughts into a more restful state. Talk to your doctor if you feel you might have a sleep disorder or physical condition that is interfering with your sleep.
- Eat: Sugar can actually feed anxiety due to its impact on blood sugar. Alcohol negatively impacts your sleep and reduces serotonin levels. When you’re battling the blues, cut out unhealthy foods and focus on natural, unprocessed whole foods. Greens, whole grains, fruits, seeds and nuts are all healthy choices.
- Move: Exercise is a well-known mood booster, and it doesn’t take a lot of movement to benefit. You also don’t have to engage in strenuous workouts to feel better. Walking for 15-30 minutes several times a week, stretching or light weight-lifting will get the blood flowing and help improve your mental state.
Regulate Your Media Intake
Watching negative stories in the news can make you feel bad, even if you’re in a good mental state. If you’re struggling with mood issues, watching these types of stories can lead to a deeper state of sadness. Do yourself a favor and stay away from news stories and media coverage that trigger negative thoughts and feelings.
- Avoid social media. If you can't avoid it, try to customize your feeds, so you see only positive posts (some social media platforms allow you to snooze people and pages that post things you aren’t interested in). In time, this will reduce negative posts in your feed.
- Add more comedies to your screens. Studies show that laughing can affect serotonin and dopamine in your body, which can improve your mood. So opt for content that makes you smile and laugh.
- Limit news intake. Limit your time visiting news sites, listening to news on the radio, or watching news shows on television. You don’t have to stay in the dark on world events entirely, but it’s good to protect your mental state by limiting your exposure to negative news.
- Skip the details. If you want to stay up to date without being overwhelmed, only read the headlines. This gives you an overview of what’s going on in the world without requiring you to get too deep in the details.
Natural Mood Enhancer Supplements
There are natural supplements that have been shown to support processes within the body that may help improve moods and reduce anxiety. For example, St. John’s Wort and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) may be powerful mood enhancers. Research suggests St. John’s Wort may be as effective as some prescription medications in treating mild to moderate depression*. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid created in the body and is utilized to produce serotonin. Serotonin is sometimes called the happy chemical because it is linked with mood enhancement.
Tips for taking mood enhancing supplements:
- Adding a supplement with magnesium and vitamin B6 that enhances bioavailability may help to calm you down.
- Take mood supplements consistently and for long enough to reap the benefits is important. For example, St. John’s Wort must be taken for three to six weeks to feel the effects.
- Keep a log of what you take, what dosage you take and how you feel. This can help you track the effectiveness of your efforts. Share this information with your healthcare practitioner.
- Combine supplementation with other tactics to boost your mood to more effectively find relief from your symptoms. For example, work on improving your sleep and adding some form of movement to your day.
- Talk with your health care provider to make sure the supplements you take don’t interfere with any medications or health issues.
Last but not least, if you want to leverage supplements to naturally enhance your mood, remember that quality matters. Look for high-quality ingredients and products that have been lab certified. This will ensure that you’re getting the ingredients you need to have a positive impact on your mood.
*The information in this article and throughout Trio Nutrition’s blog is for informational purposes only, and should never be mistaken for professional medical advice.