Diet and exercise are definitely crucial aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but so is mental well-being. Your mood has a profound effect on how you feel every day and can impact many other areas of your life. But now that the weather is getting colder and there are fewer hours of sunlight, many people start to experience worsening moods. If you’re looking for ways to improve your mood in healthy, natural ways, try out some of these options.
Keep up your workout
You might not feel like working out when you’re in a bad mood, but believe it or not, doing so can help. According to Health magazine, studies have shown that getting in at least three workouts a week is enough to reduce your risk of depression by 16 percent. Psychology Today noted that exercise boosts levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, two hormones that help improve mood. A sweat session can be just as effective as an antidepressant, so get up and start moving!
Eat brain-boosting foods
Foods that are good for your brain are good for your mood, too. Start out by making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D by eating fortified foods, fatty fish and egg yolks. Health reported that a 2012 study of more than 12,000 people found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were the most likely to be depressed. Next, ensure that your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs and lean protein. Cut out excess sugar and caffeine from your diet as well, since they can make your energy levels and mood crash.
Declutter your space
From making your bed to clearing your desk, getting rid of clutter in your home and office can help to improve your mood. Make your bed first thing in the morning to promote a sense of calm at bedtime.
“It’s a small ritual that can help create a calm environment for you in your bedroom – and a soothing bedroom is part of ‘sleep hygiene’ – little habits that can help you sleep better,” noted WebMD.
Getting rid of the mess on your desk, kitchen table and coffee table can also help you feel more organized, in control and focused. Take five minutes every day to put things away so you have a clear space and more peace of mind.
Meditation sounds harder than it is. You don’t really have to rid your mind of thoughts altogether. Just sit or lie down in a comfortable position, close your eyes and tune into what’s happening around you and what’s going on in your body. Listen to background noise, follow the rhythm of your breath and take note of any sensations in your body. If an outside thought pops up, acknowledge it and get back to thinking about your surroundings. Doing this for five to 10 minutes a day can help you de-stress and improve your mood. Try it after you wake up or before going to bed.
Take a break from electronics
Every day, give yourself some time away from your tablet, computer, smartphone and television. Head for a walk outside, read a book or just socialize with your friends and family. This can help you relax, unwind and ground yourself when you’re feeling down or stressed. In particular, check yourself out of social media for a while. According to Health magazine, the site was linked to a decline in overall happiness and life satisfaction in a 2013 University of Michigan study.