How can I lift my mood naturally?
To help lift your mood naturally, make sure your diet is rich in omega-3 and amino acids such as tryptophan. Other healthy habits which can support your mood include exercising, being outside and sleeping well. Regularly laughing, keeping busy with hobbies and mediation can also help keep your mind happy and healthy.
Tips to help lift your mood naturally
Here I run through my guide for giving your mood a natural boost:
1. Keep yourself well
I need to start by touching on diet. If you aren't feeling yourself, diet is one area to consider initially. Are you prioritising fresh foods, or do you find yourself opting for more processed options which could be lacking nutritionally, whilst also being heavy on stimulant ingredients such as refined sugar, caffeine or alcohol? All of which could contribute to peaks and troughs in your blood sugar levels and ultimately your mood.
Ingredients such as omega-3 found in oily fish or flaxseed (1); tryptophan, an amino acid found in wholegrains, dairy or lean meat (2); plus B vitamins found in wholegrains and meat (3), are all particularly protective of your brain, nervous system and ultimately your mood.
However, when it comes to looking after yourself, diet isn't the only factor to consider. Sleeping well, moving your body consistently (but not to extremes), plus, some extra indulgent activities such as massage or meditation, can all be combined to help keep our bodies and minds happy and healthy. Often, it's about finding what works best for you, so no pressure!
2. Get outside
Until you spend more time in nature, it's often hard to really appreciate the good that this can do. For me, personally, the smells of the outdoors really lift me up. That 'after the rain' smell, for example - divine! Then, if you find you really respond to smells, aromatherapy oils could be another area to explore, with some scents such as lavender, bergamot, rose or citrus scents (4) thought to be especially beneficial for mood.
The exposure to natural light is really important for helping to regulate many of our hormones and ultimately our mood too. Even spending 10 minutes outside in the morning can be a brilliant habit to get into, and combining exercise with being outdoors could help to give you a double dose of those feel-good endorphins.
3. Consider the timing of your low mood
If you feel that your mood isn't quite right, but more so at certain times of the year or even month, then consider: when are those testing times? It's very common for people to struggle with their mood a little more in winter and, as part of the condition SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), this has much to do with a lack of sunlight and/or vitamin D.
So, as with my point above, getting outside for some exposure to natural light, even for just 10 minutes, can be just as invigorating in winter as it can be in summer, and arguably more so.
Also, another point for women especially, is the potential influence of sex hormones. If you notice a dip in your mood only around a certain time of the month, this could suggest that sex hormones are having a significant part to play, and some support in this area could be the way to go. Read our blog on this topic to find out more.
4. Keep in touch
After this year, more than ever, many of you may have realised how much you've really missed social contact, and how much good this normally does you. You're not imagining that laughing makes you feel good – this is literally backed by science (5) and from a practical point of view, being around people and family helps act as a bit of a distraction from our everyday schedules.
Being kind is another tip from me. Helping others and being kind automatically makes us feel good, as does being in contact with animals, which is possibly another nice avenue for you to explore. Dogs are starting to be used in some therapy settings now, particularly where loneliness is a factor, as the lift in your mood when being around animals is undeniable, it seems! (6)
5. Keep busy
This is something else many of you may have noticed over the last year. When all else fails, find something you enjoy doing and try to forget the worries and woes of the world. Whether its cooking, baking, gardening or home décor, being productive and getting a sense of satisfaction at the end of it, shouldn't be underrated.
Music is another one, especially if we can associate certain songs or playlists to happy times, it is arguably one of the quickest ways to achieve an instant lift in your mood.
6. Re-evaluate screen time
This is a more modern-day problem, but arguably it could be contributing to more adverse effects on your mood than you once realised.
Screens themselves emit blue light which can cause havoc with our sleep-wake cycles and therefore the ability to properly wind down and switch off come bed time.
However, another huge consideration when it comes to screen and mood, is what you are actually engaging with on those screens. Social media has a lot to answer for and can risk having you continually compare yourself to others rather than focussing on yourself, and what truly makes you happy.
And this is why practices such as getting outdoors or meditation can be so helpful as they can help bring you back to the present moment, rather than risk you becoming quite distant from your true self.
7. Try a herbal remedy
A herbal remedy such as St. John's Wort Hyperiforce may make a suitable natural solution for those in need of a mood lift.
However, please note that St. John's Wort Hyperiforce is indicated for those with slight low mood only and, therefore, if you feel that home and herbal remedies may not be sufficient for you, you should always visit your doctor for some advice.
Hyperiforce also isn't suitable for anyone already on any conventional medications, that being medications for regulating mood, or otherwise, as it could affect how your body breaks down and processes the medication. So, a good alternative may be to try Jan De Vries Mood Essence which doesn't have any contraindications with medications, or visit your doctor if you need any further advice.
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8. Don't be afraid to talk
I've already mentioned the benefits you may find from reconnecting and chatting once more to friends and family, as when it comes to some slightly deeper chat, sometimes it can be really helpful to offload a little, rather than keeping too many thoughts and feelings all cooped up.
Another tactic, if you don't fancy spilling all just yet, is to write it down. This is still a means of offloading for you, but still keeping things a little closer to your chest, for now.
Then, whilst lifting your mood naturally may be your initial goal, speaking to your doctor or another healthcare professional certainly shouldn't be off limits. Sometimes you may need some professional advice just to help point you in the right direction and help you work out exactly what might be driving the dip in your mood in the first place.
Rememer to always see your GP as soon as possible, if:
- You're struggling to cope with a low mood
- Things you're trying yourself are not helping
- You've had a consistent low mood for more than 2 weeks.
Finally, mental health charities are also on the up and are more readily available than ever before. Some common examples include Mind, SAMH, SANEline or Shout. They are now very accessible and are often just the click of a button or a phone call away. This allows you to stay anonymous but to seek some advice and hear a friendly, reassuring voice just on the other end of a phone.