As today, March 20th, marks International Day of Happiness, we bring you 7 natural ways to boost your mood so you feel happier from the inside out.
1. Healthy fats & vitamins
As the brain is made up of about 60% fat, to operate to its full ability it needs to be fed the right kinds of fat. What the brain wants are omega-3 and 6 fats, also known as essential fatty acids, as your body cannot produce these fats themselves.
Essential fatty acids brighten your mood and improve your cognitive functioning and alertness.
Nuts and seeds such as flax, chia, hemp and pumpkin seeds and walnuts contain a powerhouse of mood elevating omega 3’s and B vitamins. The combination of goodness in just a handful of nuts and seeds a day can help with stress, anxiety and mood.
Leafy greens such as collard greens, kale and spinach and rich sources of Vitamin B and healthy fats (omega 3 and 6), fibre and minerals. They are also a great source of magnesium too, which is known for its calming effects and positive influence on mood.
Wild fish such as salmon or rainbow trout are also a great source and are key players when it comes to boosting mood and happiness.
Low levels of vitamin B have been shown to contribute to low mood. By increasing the amount of B vitamins in your diet, you may begin to notice some positive changes in your mood and experience a feeling of prolonged happiness. Some foods that are rich in B vitamins also include dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, brown rice, oats, bananas, almonds, avocados, eggs, lean meat and fish.
Alternatively, if you’re under a lot of stress, you could take a good B complex vitamin to up your levels. B vitamins in your system are burned up quickly in times of stress so it is wise to replenish them. B vitamins can also be destroyed by sugar, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
Finally, boosting your levels of vitamin D can really help improve your mood as this also enhances your production of serotonin. Vitamin D comes from sunlight but can also be found in foods such as oily fish, mushrooms and fortified foods.
It can be worth taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement all through the year, though especially throughout winter.
Meditation helps because it allows you time to reflect and bring inner peace. A study from JAMA Internal Medicine shows that meditation can help reduce stress and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, thus improving your mood and helping you to avoid a myriad of other related health conditions.
3. Make your first thought of the day a happy one
When we look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning and think of or point out things we want to change about yourself, that’s a conscious choice we make. Commit to thinking differently about yourself so you make happiness the first point of call of your day.
Try to listen to music to start your day rather than watching TV. Make yourself a positive uplifting playlist with all of your favourite songs to help boost your mood and brighten your spirits.
4. Channel your inner child
Whenever you feel stressed about your responsibilities and commitments in work, life or otherwise, unplug from the world, turn off your computer and phone and tap into your inner child. When we tap into this inner part of ourselves and become more childlike, we grow our capacity for curiosity and creativity.
Take a “dream break” during the day – sit alone and spend 5-10 minutes thinking your way into an experience you had always hoped to have. Let your mind run free, open up to silliness and having more fun. This childlike energy will bring you a much more positive perspective and release pent-up tension.
Sleep restores your mind and is optimal to physical health, however we often forget that it also benefits us both mentally and emotionally. If we are lacking in shut-eye, we are actually blocking happiness from our lives.
To help you get a restful night’s sleep, try the Kundalini breathing technique: sit up straight on your bed and breathe in using a U breath (pucker your mouth as if you were holding a 20 cent coin between your lips). Breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. Continue this cycle of breath for one minute before attempting to drift off.
6. Yoga seriously slashes stress
Anyone who has ever tried Yoga and settled into child’s pose knows the calming effect the process can have. The tensing and relaxing of the muscles during yoga – in combination with the mindful awareness of physical sensations – helps us relax. A study done in Harvard University showed that just eight weeks of daily yoga significantly quality in people who suffer with insomnia.
Self-care can be defined as the actions a person can take in order to reach optimal physical and mental health.
Self-care can include anything from getting a haircut or a massage, to going to the beach or eating at your favourite restaurant.
Even more than that however, it means being mindful of and tending to your own daily needs. On the most basic level for example, in work, take time for a lunch break. After work, make time for hobbies, family and friends. Although we don’t want to be controlled by the material “things” in our lives, it is worth noting the positive effects that small treats – items, food, etc., - can have when used well for self-care.
Knowing how to practice good self-care is vital when working through things like depression, anxiety and the pressures of day-to-day life than can frequently become overwhelming.
Pop into your local CarePlus Pharmacy and ask our friendly Pharmacists about any advice on vitamins and supplements you may need.