8 Serotonin Boosting Tips to Boost Your Mood!
Recently, I have come across quite a few situations where Mental Health has been the topic of conversation. This is a good thing as it signifies that we are becoming more open about the subject. A couple of people have also come to me specifically asking if there are any particular foods that can help boost mood.
It got me thinking of the increasing number of people we hear of suffering with mental health related issues e.g. stress from work, social anxiety or depression and what could be done to help people to take some control back over these feelings.
As part of Abrivia’s Leaders’ Series, Brent Pope spoke recently about his battle with depression from a very early age. What struck was how well he described this un-explainable dark cloud that came over him in such a clear way that I could almost feel how scared and isolated he must have felt for whatever reason he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Here was this highly successful, extremely talented, funny rugby player with the world at his feet sitting in his dark room praying he wouldn’t get picked for the All Blacks team. He must have felt so lonely and confused, with no answers as to why he feels this way! Just like many others suffering from low mood, anxiety and/or depression a.k.a “The Black Dog”.
Why? What happens that allows people to feel this way and lose control of their own thoughts?
From my own studies I know that, serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and behaviour may play a role in feelings of anxiety/depression. Many studies have been conducted over the years that suggest the pathway for serotonin to reach the brain may be blocked in some individuals or the cell receptors don’t pick up serotonin correctly and bring it to the part of the brain that enables us to feel happy. However, we have not yet seen conclusive evidence to determine if this is in fact true. It is a starting point along with many other factors that could cause certain individuals to experience this.
Unfortunately, there is still a huge stigma around mental health. I personally think this is partly due to the fact that, we, as humans have a tendency not to understand what we cannot see. We can physically see/hear if somebody has a cold or a broken leg and we can sympathise but we cannot see someone’s thoughts or feelings.
Western medicine has done a lot to come up with some solutions to help people get through these difficult times. However, I’m not a believer in taking medication for an extended period of time as my passion lies in Nutrition and Alternative medicine/ healing. I have come up with 8 tips that I believe could be beneficial to everyone to boost our “good mood” endorphins.
1) Eat yourself happy!! – I could write a whole blog on this one but without going into the chemistry behind the “whys” for now. Make sure you get plenty of the following:
Nuts and seeds – flax, sunflower, sesame, cashews and almonds.
Protein – good sources of chicken, turkey and eggs with the yolk. Go for organic here if possible.
B Vits – wholegrains (cereals and breads), brown rice, sweet potatoes.
Oils – Family and friends my apologies, I’m banging on about this one again. A healthy brain needs good fats. Avacado, walnut oils, flaxseed oil, sardines, salmon, mackerel. Aim to have one source of good fats with each meal.
Fruit and veg – Green Leafy Veg and carrots are excellent. Add kelp or spirulina if you find the more palatable. Apples, Bananas, pineapples, plums and mangos – eat alone or add to salads.
Avoid – sugar including hidden sugars and processed foods.
2) Exercise – Get outside and get some Vit D. Go for a walk, jog or run. No time or distance in mind just go for the fun of it. Dance, go to the gym or climb a mountain. Exercising boosts your “good mood” endorphins. I guarantee you will feel a little better.
3) Meditate – a hectic lifestyle and working crazy hours seems to be “cool” these days!! Start a new trend and make meditating the new thing to do. Take a yoga class, or do it in the comfort of your own home or outside on a nice autumn day.
4) Be around family and friends – spend time with people who love you and make you feel good. Avoid negative people, they are infectious.
5) Accept yourself– Learn to love yourself, even with all of your “faults”. Life would be boring if we were all the same and treat yourself for coping so well. Go for a massage, relax in a candle lit bath with no phone until your fingers go wrinkly, paint a picture if that’s what relaxes you. Make it a habit of doing something nice for yourself at least once a week.
6) Talk about it – talk to someone you trust or talk to Aware, they do amazing work every day to support others. Call their helpline or attend one of their many support groups. You will see you are not alone.
7) Beware the Black Dog – when you feel that black dog beginning to creep up on you again, instead of running away, Stop!! Breath!! And be confident in knowing you now have the tools to fight back.
8) Tell your story – if ever you want to or feel ready, tell your story!! Like Brent Pope speaking out has not only helped him but enabled others to do the same and break the silence around mental health.
If I had one tip for family and friends of sufferers it would be this!!
Don’t feel that you need to or should understand how your loved one feels. Scientists have been studying for years and still don’t fully understand the complexities of the human brain. Just know that, depression is very real and scary for anyone going through a tough time. The best thing you can do is listen, empathise and just be supportive.
Please share with us any tips you have to boost your mood!!
A post by Lydia O’Donnell
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