There is a growing body of science and practice around the administration of drugs to combat depression and anxiety, but there is also a growing usage of natural remedies. Before, or sometimes in tandem with taking more serious measures, many people try natural methods of mood enhancement. Here we overview the top 10 that you can try.
1) Sleep well
Everyone has their own sleep pattern, and you might be struggling with yours. Many doctors believe there is a strong link between good sleep and mood, so ensuring you have a good environment for sleep, and a good length of sleep, is a great start to natural mood enhancement.
2) Crave sunlight
Some of us notice when we have gone days without the sun, but whether you do consciously or not, your body does! There are strong links between sunlight and depression, and even a disorder – Seasonal Affective Disorder – from which many people suffer, especially during winter months, away from the equator. So why not make sure there is sun shining in your bedroom in the morning, that you get outside on your way to work, and that you go for a walk at lunch? At weekends, get outside, and whatever the weather, enjoy some natural sunlight.
3) Get a dog
This might seem a funny one, but a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia has shown that petting a dog for just 15 minutes a day releases feel-good hormone, including serotonin and oxytocin. It also likely lowers the stress hormone cortisol. And even if you are not a dog person, other research has shown a similar effect with cat owners.
4) Go for a run
Many studies have linked increased exercise with mood improvements. It is thought that exercise helps stimulate serotonin, which alters mood. When you feel down, build a natural reaction to go for a run, walk or do a dance class. It doesn’t really matter what the exercise is, as long as you are getting a workout. Start small rather than not starting at all!
5) Smile a while
The simple act of smiling can help alter mood, even if you are faking it! Some researchers claim that it doesn’t even matter if you are actually smiling naturally, the muscle movements in smiling seem to be linked with an active change in mood.
6) Eat chocolate
This is most people’s favourite… but research does seem to show that eating chocolate may boost serotonin levels in the brain, thus causing a mood lift. Perhaps that’s why so many people crave chocolate when they are feeling low!
7) Change birth control
This isn’t very helpful if you are a man, but some hormone based birth control methods have been linked with mood swings and minor depression in women. To test if this is a factor in your mood, try a different brand, or swap to a non-hormone-based approach for a couple of months.
8) Get creative
We aren’t all able to draw like Picasso, but a study at Boston College showed that participants became happier when they created artwork that expressed their negative feelings. This might be partly due to the distraction factor – which seems common to many hobbies, and has been noted to be prevalent in journal writing too.
9) Sing aloud
It might not give joy to those around you, depending on your singing voice, but researchers have found that an organ in the inner ear which responds to singing sounds is connected to the part of the brain that registers pleasure. So perhaps join a choir, or sing in the car or shower. Wherever you feel most comfortable!
10) Give a hug
Human touch seems to release endorphins like serotonin, and a UNC Chapel Hill study found that it also reduces blood pressure and heart rate – thus making you more content and relaxed. Having good friends that you can hug and spend time with is one of the oldest natural remedies to poor mood.
Try these as natural remedies, and see what a different it can make!