Natural Mood Boosters
Now that lockdown restrictions are easing, you might be heading back to work or starting to get back into an old routine. And while it may feel exciting to be returning to some semblance of normality, it’s natural to also feel anxious and worried about leaving your lockdown bubble and stepping out into the wider world. Read on to discover ways to boost your mood naturally and make getting back to normal that little bit easier…
Get plenty of daylight
It’s a given any time but getting outside and into nature does wonders for our mood, especially if we're already feeling anxious. That's because exposure to sunlight triggers serotonin, the neurotransmitter in your brain that’s responsible for lifting your mood and making you feel calmer and more focused. Being in natural daylight also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural clock, which helps balance the daily fluctuations in biochemistry and behaviour.
Try some meditation
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete novice, meditation is a useful tool to have in your self-care arsenal. Having an awareness of your body and mind enables a deeper connection with yourself and could help you understand your emotions and build resilience against anxiety and stress when they strike. An inherently gentle technique, it also helps calm a racing mind and allows you to press pause, often just what’s needed to disengage ourselves from stressful situations and lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Take a bath
As well as being a great way to unwind before bed, taking a warm bath creates an increase in core body temperature which helps to kick start your natural circadian rhythm. If you’re anxious or prone to depression, your natural core temperature is often distorted or out of kilter, so a bath is a great way of naturally raising it. In addition to improving biological functions, bathing is thought to be linked to an increase in serotonin and endorphins, two chemicals in our brain that are responsible for making us feel happier and more contented.
Get more sleep
A lack of sleep is bad news for several reasons, not least because of the effect it can have on your mood. Even one bad night’s sleep is enough to impact your frontal lobe, the area in the brain responsible for making complex decisions, while repeated unrest and poor-quality sleep can make you irritable, lethargic, anxious and lacking in focus. Over time, continued sleep issues can compromise your immune system and your heart health and impact both short and long-term memory. If you are headed back to work and are anticipating busy and potentially stressful days, then prioritise your sleep and always aim for at least 7 hours a night alongside a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule.
We all know exercise is a great mood booster thanks to the endorphins that are released when you move, but even something as simple as gentle stretching is enough to trigger the release of feel-good chemicals like serotonin in the brain. If you can, try to build some simple stretches into your morning routine before you leave for work to help start your day on a better, more positive note.
Eat more omega-3
Low moods and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are thought to have an inflammatory basis, while prolonged stress can exacerbate depressive symptoms further. To help combat low mood, make sure your diet is rich in plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have significant anti-inflammatory properties. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are all good sources, as are nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed.