By Kacey Bradley:
If you’re feeling blue or stressed, it’s easy to reach for a pill bottle to find relief. However, doing so too often can damage your stomach or liver and leave you with an addiction.
Are there any ways to improve your mood naturally? Only a dozen or more. Read on to discover 12 ways you can boost your mood levels without heading to the doctor or pharmacy.
1. Get Outside
Sunlight plays a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and researchers understand at least part of the reason why. Getting out in the sun boosts our levels of serotonin, a natural antidepressant. Many medications used in treating depression improve the uptake of serotonin in the brain.
Those who work the night shift also experience lower levels of melatonin, the body’s sleep-wake chemical. If you suspect lack of sleep plays a part in your poor mood, try getting outside more — the melatonin boost could help you catch enough Zzz’s.
2. Move Your Body
Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals in the body that make you feel elated. Next time you feel depressed or sluggish, stand up and do 25 jumping jacks or perform some squats. Even a two-minute exercise boost can get oxygen flowing to the brain, helping you think more clearly and beat the blahs.
3. Play With Pets
Psychologists suggest therapy pets for patients with certain disorders like depression and anxiety for good reason. Research shows that spending time with animals helps alleviate depression and anxiety, so turn to a four-legged friend when the two-legged variety drives you crazy. No pet of your own? Local Humane Societies always need people to socialize kitties and walk dogs, and you’ll get an extra mood boost from volunteering.
4. Or With the Kiddos
Children have a refreshing, new way of seeing the world. Spending time with your little ones can provide a major mood boost. If the weather is nice, head out to the park and play a game together. If it’s too frightful outdoors, put on your favorite jams and dance around the living room with your kids — the music and laughter are sure to make you feel better fast.
5. Inhale a Rich Aroma
While aromatherapy doesn’t cure depression, it can boost a low mood. Fill your diffuser with water and a few drops of lavender essential oilto alleviate both stress and the blues. Need something more uplifting? Bergamot and sweet orange both energize the body and change meh moods.
6. Eat a Hearty Fish-Based Meal
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might raise your eyebrows at this suggestion, but fatty fish like salmon contain huge amounts of omega-3 fatty acids critical for brain health — and for alleviating depression. Plus, such foods are low in calories and stick to your ribs, not your waistline. Try this delicious salmon teriyakifor dinner — not only is it mood-healthy, but it provides major nutrition as well.
7. Try Something New
Think about the last time you were afraid to try something, but you did it anyway. Maybe it was tackling a tough project at work, or maybe it was going to a party where you knew only the host. How did you feel afterward? Probably pretty exhilarated, right? Next time you can’t break a low mood, try something new, whether it be a class you’ve never taken at the gym or even a different route home from the office. The novelty will improve how you feel.
8. Compliment a Stranger
How do you feel when someone randomly compliments your hair or outfit? Pretty good, right? Smile at a stranger and compliment them on their car, their skirt, anything you truly like — you’ll both walk away smiling.
9. Perform a Random Act of Kindness
Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you at the shopor pitch in french fry money for the person counting change at the burger counter. Engaging in acts of kindness for others always improves our mood.
No money? Mow the lawn of an elderly or sick neighbor, or spread a bit of sunshine by commenting with positive thoughts on a friend’s social media post.
10. Get in Some Cuddle Time
Cuddlingincreases levels of oxytocin, a brain chemical that increases feelings of trust and security. The next time you have a bad day, curl up with your sweetie. Whether you binge-watch Netflix or talk about your day matters not as long as you curl up in each others’ arms. No S.O.? Curl up with a pet, a kiddo or even a good book.
11. Practice Some Yoga
Yoga poses activate the nervous system, including the vagus nerve, the longest of 12 cranial nervesthat run from brain to stomach. Researchers suspect a connection between the gut and the brain, and practicing poses like cat-cow can stimulate this nerve. The stimulation can calm an anxious stomach and help ease you into restful sleep.
12. Take a Hot Bath
Finally, indulging in a long, hot bath can make anyone feel better. Feel free to float some rose petals for beauty and light some electric candles (real candles pose a fire risk to long hair). Lie back and let the stress of the day drain away.
Boosting Moods Naturally
You don’t need to turn to a pill bottle to boost your mood. By practicing the 12 tips above, you can beat the blahs and return to yourself naturally.