Small dietary and lifestyle changes can improve your mood and sense of well-being over time, and these are some of the most effective ones.
It can happen over time or hit us all at once, but everyone hits a slump every now and again. You know, those blues that you can’t shake or that feeling of sluggishness that just weighs you down. It can be downright exhausting. And, while there is no shortage of supplements, herbs, and vitamins that are touted as natural energy boosters or mood enhancers, how do you know where to start, or which ones actually work?
The fact of the matter is, there are many natural ways to improve your mood and energy levels with small, intentional changes.
Here are the top 5 natural ways to boost your mood and improve your energy:
- Reach for the water
This may seem oversimplified, but hear us out. Our bodies are comprised of mostly water, and when we’re dehydrated, our dopamine and serotonin levels are affected, and our physical, emotional, and mental health are disrupted. Even being mildly dehydrated can contribute to low energy levels, cloudy cognition, nervousness, stress, and poor mood. So, when your mood or energy hits a slump, reach for the water. The trick, however, is staying hydrated throughout the day, instead of waiting until you feel thirsty to start drinking. As a general rule, shoot to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
- Mindful eating
It’s easy to reach for sweet treats or comfort food when you’re feeling sad or stressed out, and while indulging in those cravings can be immediately satisfying, it generally results in a giant crash and even higher levels of irritability shortly thereafter. But, just like some foods can trigger a prolonged bad mood, other foods can contribute to an elevated mood and overall sense of well-being. Here’s a snapshot of those mood-boosting foods:
- Foods rich in Omega-3’s – oily fish such as wild-caught salmon and tuna, walnuts, flax, and chia seeds
- Foods rich with probiotics – yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and pickled vegetables
- Whole grains – steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and bulgur
- Foods rich in folate – spinach, edamame, artichokes, okra, lentils, avocado, and broccoli
- Foods rich in vitamin D – cheese, egg yolks, fortified milk, and milk alternatives
- Adaptogenic plants
Adaptogenic herbs are the gold standard for boosting your mood and reducing stress. As a matter of fact, the word “adaptogen” was originally used to describe plants that helped our bodies react to and recover from the effects of different types of stress. Two of the most commonly used adaptogenic herbs for mood, energy, and stress are:
- Ashwagandha – enhances the body’s response to internal and external stress
- Rhodiola – helps reduce physical and mental fatigue
- Listen to music
Although this one does not involve consumption, it is wildly successful at quickly boosting your mood. It is so effective that hospitals use music as a therapeutic tool for their patients’ emotional well-being and pain management. One of the top benefits of music as a mood-enhancer and stress-reliever is that it can be seamlessly incorporated into your normal routine and increase your enjoyment of day-to-day activities. Soothing music, in particular, is known to reduce cortisol levels and trigger a relaxation response, classical or instrumental music has the ability to wake you up while keeping you calm and focused, and listening to your favorite music is sometimes all you need to turn a not-so-good day around. Some of the best times to listen to music are while you’re getting ready for the day, during your commute, while you’re cooking, as you’re cleaning, paying bills, and just before bed.
- Get outside
Experts have long touted the stress-reducing and mood-boosting effects of spending time outdoors, and for good reason. Studies show that spending just five minutes in an outdoor setting can lead to an increase in positive emotions. Now, you don’t have to be an “outdoorsy” or athletic person to reap the benefits of the outdoors. While getting out for a hike or an outdoor jog is great (exercise is also highly effective at boosting your mood), you can also just step outside and breathe in some fresh air when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or devoid of energy. Bonus points if you can listen to music at the same time.
And there you have it. Our suggestion to you is to start small. Pick a few of these things and start incorporating them into your life as you can. And, as the cloud begins to lift and your mood begins to improve – which it will – you can make more and more positive changes to your day-to-day life. The trick is holding on to these good habits to keep your mood elevated and stress levels down, but if that slump hits again, you can refer back to this list for the pick-me-up that you need.