BOOST YOUR MOOD
Many of us experience periods with mood changes and of low mood. This can happen due to personal situation, lifestyle or environmental changes, and it is not unusual during the winter months or periods of uncertainty such as the current social distancing situation. A low mood may pass in a few days or weeks, however if these feelings persist over a period of time then it is best to talk to an expert to support you.
Below are 5 small things you can do each day to focus on your positive energy or indeed to boost low mood:
You cannot appreciate others or positive things around you without first appreciating oneself. You can accomplish this by either writing regular gratitude letters to yourself, or each evening to simply write down, in a journal or just on a piece of paper, 3 things you are grateful for on that given day. They key is to only focus on these positive aspects and ignore the challenges (or indeed, one positive may be that you demonstrated strength or resiliency despite of them)
II. RAK & PIF
Random Actions of Kindness & Pay it Forward! Doing things for others can stop us focusing on our own worries and boost our mood. It could just be a small thank you or a passing smile, but also a kind gesture such as planting seeds in a pot for a friend or neighbour that will bloom in a few weeks. Research has even shown benefits to toddlers from acts of altruism. You may have seen the movie ‘Pay It Forward’ or have read the novel of the same name, a story about a young boy who did 3 good deeds for others in need. In return, all that the child wanted was that they pass on the good deed to three other people and keep the cycle going. So as part of your random acts of kindness, why not chose to do between one and three good deeds for others without asking for anything in return
III. Connect and stay connected
Positive social connection, be it by post, phone, online or over a garden fence can boost our love hormone oxytocin, which increases self-esteem and optimism as well as dopamine, which can boost our drive. Why not schedule the long overdue call to your friend or family member, that you kept pushing because you were busy, tired, or just not in the meet as part of your weekly task and consider it in fact an accomplishment once completed.
IV. Gut Health
Around 95% of our serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter, is manufactured in the gut. Support your gut flora diversity with prebiotic foods such as bananas, apples, oats, asparagus, onions, garlic and leeks.
Or try your hand at making fermented foods which is a great way to introduce beneficial species of bacteria to the gut. To make a simple Sauerkraut you just need a kilner jar, a white cabbage and some salt. Sauerkraut has been shown to have good levels of the beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria.
V. Feelgood Foods
Serotonin is derived from the protein tryptophan. There is a wide range of foods we can introduce into our diet which are high in tryptophan, such as chicken, turkey, fish, cheese, eggs and oats.
In addition to high tryptophan foods, research has shown other foods and micronutrients which can support positive mental wellbeing including omega 3 and vitamin D. Foods high in omega-3 include cold water fish, green vegetables, grass fed meat, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Good food sources of vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, some mushrooms and fortified foods such as some dairy foods, cereals and orange juice but are usually not sufficient to optimize your vitamin D levels. Non-food sources of vitamin D include natural sunlight and there is much research on supporting low mood with natural light therapy. Get out into the daylight if you can or if not make sure you sit by a window during the day. Consider supplementation if you cannot obtain sufficient amounts of omega-e and vitamin D naturally.
Eating sugary and carbohydrate rich foods on the other hand can cause a surge in blood sugar and temporarily elevate serotonin levels, but on the downside those foods tend to be pro-inflammatory which has been linked to low mood and depression, so try to avoid those or manage your intake carefully.