It is January. This time of year is difficult for many people. The excitement of the Holiday Season has ended, and it feels so long until spring greets us with its beautiful crocuses and daffodils. It is so easy to slip into what feels like a never-ending funk during these cold dark months. Here are some ways we can help kick the bleak, and boost our mood.
Physical activity is good for our health for a plethora of reasons. Not only does it reduce our risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, improve our endurance, strengthen our bones and tone our muscles, it also boosts our mood.
Exercise causes the release of endorphins into our bloodstream. Endorphins are feel-good opioid-like chemicals that our bodies make in certain situations (source). It is the endorphins that cause the euphoric feeling after a good work out. In fact, research shows that exercise can even help ease depression (source). My favorite type of exercise is Yoga, because it improves strength and flexibility, and helps me turn off my active mind. I am a busy mom, so exercising at home works best for me. These online Yoga classes are a godsend. I can even squeeze a class in when my little guy naps! Other great forms of exercise include running, hiking, dancing, swimming, martial arts, or playing sports – pretty much anything that you enjoy and gets your body moving!
2. Prioritize Your Social Life
Having a network of friends is just as good for our health as exercising, not smoking, and not being obese (source). People who have social connections live longer and happier lives. If you are feeling down, get together with a friend for a hike or a cup of tea. If you don’t have many friends, try volunteering. You will not only meet like-minded people, but you will develop a sense of purpose. Pets are also great companions! Dog or cat snuggles are pretty darn nice! As well, dogs need to get out every day, so they force us to go for walks.
3. Sleep Like You Are Getting Paid For It
When we don’t sleep well, all other areas of our life suffer. Without enough good quality sound sleep, we gain weight, we have a difficult time thinking and focusing, we have little to no energy, and we don’t feel happy. If you feel that poor sleep is affecting your life, read this article to find tips on how to improve it and get feeling better.
4. Eat a Nutritious Diet and Avoid Inflammatory Junk Foods
Eating a diet composed of whole foods like vegetables, fruit, organic meats, healthy fats, nuts, and seeds nourishes our body, mind, and soul. Our physical and mental energy, as well as our mood, is supported when we consume a nutrient-rich diet. On the contrary, basing our diet on processed food does not nourish us the same way. Processed foods instead, flare inflammation, and negatively affect our stamina and our emotional state.
I am a big fan of the Paleo Diet because it advocates a nutritious whole food diet. I love Paleo Plan because it is an excellent online resource for delicious and healthy Paleo recipes. They even offer a free Paleo Starter Kit!
5. Hack Your Light Exposure
Our circadian rhythm affects our mood. When this sleep/wake cycle is off, we can feel down. The strongest regulator of our circadian rhythm is the light that enters our eyes (source). Too little natural light during the day and too much artificial light at night can seriously mess with our mood and our sleep. To remedy this, we should aim to get at least half an hour of natural light in the morning and avoid bright lights after the sun goes down. Going for a short walk, or sitting near a bright window in the morning can have a huge positive effect on our mood and energy. As well, dimming lights in the evening, and avoiding screens for two hours before bed will also greatly help. If you need to be on your computer or phone before bed, use blue blocking glasses to mitigate the effects of the light.
6. Manage Your Stress
Stress management is never a fun topic of conversation, but it is vital to our wellbeing! It is very difficult to feel happy and energetic when we are walking balls of stress and anxiety. When we are in this state, too much of our resources are going towards maintaining the stress. Learning tips on how to manage our stress will surely help boost our mood.
7. Give Your Gut Some Love
Tons of research is going into the gut microbiome right now. Studies are revealing that our gut is intimately connected to our brain through what is called the Gut-Brain Axis. It stands to reason that changes in our gut microbiome will affect our mood. In fact, research is finding this is true. Studies indicate that probiotics not only improve our gut health, but they can also help improve our mood (source). Taking a good quality probiotic like this one is a great way to enhance our gut health, which in turn, may have a positive effect on our emotional state.
Finding time for unstructured play can help boost our mood and energy. This can include activities such as playing or listening to music, going to see live music or comedy shows, partaking in board game nights with friends, playing sports, dancing, making art, and playing with your kids or grandkids.
9. Go Natural
Avoiding toxins in food, cleaning products, beauty products, furniture, clothing, and our bed can help improve our mood and energy. Many toxins found in these conventional products are hormone disruptors, which means they can directly affect the way we feel. Switching from conventional products to natural ones will reduce our exposure to these hormone-disrupting chemicals.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
What do you do when your mood needs a boost?
Lindsay Rusk Health is a dedicated resource for people who are interested in health and improving their health. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links. These links add no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and brands that I personally use for myself or my family. For more information, see my Terms + Disclosure.