How to Boost Your Mood Naturally

Our emotional and mental state has a direct effect on how our body feels and functions. When our mood is low, the rest of the body seems to follow. Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, affect millions of people worldwide. One's mood is primarily influenced by the neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that send signals from one nerve cell to another—serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for your mood. Though we cannot directly get serotonin from your diet, we can consume tryptophan. Tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, can help the body to produce more serotonin. Many natural alternatives can help the body support an uplifted mood and balanced overall state of being.

Before adding anything new into your health routine, it is essential to check in with your health care provider first.

Nutritional Support

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. EPA and DHA are found mainly in seafood, whereas ALA found more in plant-based foods such as walnuts and flaxseeds. DHA and EPA are the two omega-3 fatty acids that studies have linked to lower levels of depression. High-quality omega-3's reduce inflammation, support brain function, and aid the production of neurotransmitters. Consuming two servings of oily fish per week should be sufficient to provide your body with adequate omega-3s. (3.)

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

  • Salmon

  • Halibut

  • Sardines

  • Trout

  • Herring

  • Walnuts

  • Flaxseed

Probiotics

The gut is connected to the brain by way of the gut-brain axis. The gut, also known as the second brain, produces many of the same neurotransmitters in the brain. It is estimated that about 90% of your serotonin is made in the gut. If the gut microbiome is off, then the neurotransmitter production will be thrown off. Due to the nutritional habits, antibiotic use, and environmental toxins in today's society, it is easy for the microbiome to be disturbed. This is where probiotics come in; they introduce good bacteria to the gut to help replenish the microbiome balance needed for the proper functioning of the body and mind. (4.) (6.)

Sources of Probiotics:

  • Saurkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Miso

  • Tempeh

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body when directly exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D can also be found in certain foods and supplements. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the brain's early developmental stages, ongoing cognitive upkeep, and the functions that support a healthy mood. Optimal levels of vitamin D will help boost your mood and improve overall cognitive functioning. (5.)

Sources of Vitamin D:

  • Sunlight

  • Egg yolk

  • Mushrooms

  • Foods fortified with vitamin D

Movement

Exercise is a natural mood boost due to the endorphins released when you engage in physical activity. Endorphins are chemicals released in the brain that promote overall wellbeing, increased mood, and stress relief. This does not have to be intense exercise; it can be as simple as a 20-minute nature walk. Anything will do, just get out and get moving!

Exercise Ideas:

  • Yoga

  • Hiking

  • Walking

  • Dancing

  • Playing with a pet

  • Sports

  • Swimming

Meditation

Meditation is a tool that has been used for centuries as a tool to help the mind. Those who use meditation regularly experience reduced stress, lower anxiety, and improved mood. Meditation can seem impossible to those with busy minds, but taking only a couple of minutes a day to focus on the breath can profoundly affect one's mental state. Find a comfortable seat or lying down position, gently close your eyes, and begin to breathe. Slowing down the breath, focus on each inhale and exhale. The mind might wander, but bring it back to the breath. Repeat this once a day or during times of increased stress.

Herbal Help

Holy Basil, also known as tulsi, is an adaptogen native to India. Holy basil has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Adaptogenic herbs help the body healthily acclimate to stressors, adapting to the specific needs of your body. Adaptogens can help with many different types of stress, from physical to psychological. In the case of holy basil, mental balance and clarity are promoted—holy basil aids in reducing anxiety, relieving stress, and promoting an overall feeling of balance. (2.)

Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated compounds extracted from plants, that serve many medicinal purposes. From aiding digestion to calming the mind to bug repellant, essential oils have various purposes. These oils are used topically, internally, or aromatically (through a diffuser). When it comes to emotional wellbeing, essential oils are potent at bringing a sense of calm and uplifting the mood. If anxiety and stress are what you are dealing with, lavender essential oil is a great option. If low mood and depression are prevalent, citrus is great for uplifting the spirit. Tangerine, sweet orange, and grapefruit are all beautiful options. (1.)

(If using internally, please consult your healthcare provider before starting any new regimen)

Citations:

  1. Appleton, J., & Appleton, A. (n.d.). Lavender Oil for Anxiety and Depression. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2012-02/lavender-oil-anxiety-and-depression-0

  2. Cohen, M. (2014). Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/

  3. David Mischoulon, M. (2018, August 02). Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/omega-3-fatty-acids-for-mood-disorders-2018080314414

  4. Lee, L. (n.d.). Can Probiotics Improve Your Mood? Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/can-probiotics-improve-your-mood

  5. Penckofer, S., Kouba, J., Byrn, M., & Estwing Ferrans, C. (2010, June). Vitamin D and depression: Where is all the sunshine? Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908269/

  6. Publishing, H. (n.d.). Probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/probiotics-may-help-boost-mood-and-cognitive-function

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