Everyone feels down every now and again. We all face stress in our daily lives. We all experience disappointment from time to time too. Not every minute of every day can be kittens and rainbows — but it’s often the low moments in life that teach us how precious life’s joys are. Thankfully, there are natural pathways to improved moods – which simply means taking a natural approach to feel more uplifted, energized and renewed.
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Blue Moods Happen, But There’s Hope
Sometimes, though, the lows can linger and it can begin to feel as if the world is shrouded in a perpetual gray cloud. Although nothing can replace high-quality therapy when you are facing a significant mental health challenge such as clinical depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are still things you can do in your daily life to help brighten your spirits and chase the blues away.
So if you are looking for natural pathways to improved moods, this article is for you!
Feed Your Body to Nourish Your Moods
The old adage, “you are what you eat,” has endured for a reason. Indeed, scientists have only recently begun to understand the very real and very important connection between your brain and your digestive system, a phenomenon referred to as the “gut-brain axis.”
So strong is the link between the belly and brain, in fact, that researchers often now describe the gastrointestinal tract as the enteric nervous system, working in direct coordination with your brain and central nervous system.
That means that, if you want to boost your mood naturally, you should start by eating a diet rich in foods that make both your belly and your brain happy. This includes whole grains, healthy oils and fats, nuts and seeds, and prebiotics and probiotics — and let’s not forget the happiest of them all: dark chocolate!
When it comes to implementing natural pathways to improved moods, it just makes sense that the great outdoors can be a big influence. When you need to find a sense of peace, calm, and well-being that may have been missing in your life, there’s pretty much nothing better than spending time in nature.
From taking a nightly walk around your neighborhood to cultivating your own little backyard garden, the more time you spend outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, the better your overall mental health.
Best of all, being outdoors requires you to become more physically active which, over time, can reduce your blood pressure and body mass, increase your musculoskeletal strength and flexibility, and improve your overall health. When you feel better and stronger physically, you’re going to feel better and stronger mentally.
Sniff it Out
Our bellies may be strongly connected to our brains and our emotions, but this is not the only physiological system that contributes to mental health. In fact, your olfactory sense can have a powerful impact on how you’re feeling. You need only to consider the immense and growing popularity of aromatherapy to understand why.
Scents such as lavender have been shown to promote relaxation and a sense of well-being, while the aroma of citrus fruits helps to increase energy and productivity. So, if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, one of the best things you can do is surround yourself with a mood-boosting fragrance.
When you’re feeling a bit blue, often the last thing you want to do is flash those pearly whites. And yet, putting a smile on your face may be exactly what you need to feel better. There is mounting evidence that smiling can actually help reduce stress and relieve depression and anxiety.
However, the benefits of putting on a happy face don’t end there. There are also physical and social rewards as well. When you smile, you trigger a physiological response throughout the entire body, spurring the release of hormones and neurochemicals that can help relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and support overall health.
Not only this, but smiling also contributes to more positive social interactions. When you project a happy, positive demeanor, those around you will almost inevitably respond in kind. And what that means is that you’re going to enjoy healthier, happier relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.
In other words, when you smile, you’re going to feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. The positive vibes you project into the world will be sent right back to you — and, voila, a cycle of happiness is born!
Be (Naturally) Kind
Very often when we get into a funk, or rub shoulders with depression we can get submerged in our own world. We might even become consumed in self-pity. A great natural pathway to improved moods is pulling out of ourselves and committing acts of kindness for others. You could choose to do this by helping out in nature.
For example, you could volunteer at a conservation center, or an animal shelter. Help out at a community garden, or get involved with organizations that are committed to reforesting the planet. You might even help community efforts to save wildlife, such as protecting the seal or sea turtle population if you live near the beach. There are tons of ways you can give Mother Nature a helping hand. Moreover, helping Mother Nature is a great way to get out of yourself for many reasons:
1) Committing acts of kindness manifests a sense of accomplishment, thus improving your mood. It’s also a win-win. Helping people or helping out in nature makes us feel good while also improving the world around us.
2) Doing things for the benefit of others or the natural world enhances a sense of community. This can greatly reduce feelings of isolation, which often exacerbates depression.
3) It refocused your thoughts on something else rather than your own problems – thus lessening feelings of despair or ennui.
Practice Purposeful Restfulness
During a bout of the blues, many of us naturally feel tired. We may even spend more time sleeping (if our busy schedules allow the downtime). While getting plenty of rest, and solid sleep time is vital for rejuvenating our mental and emotional states – it’s important to pay attention to what type of rest we’re getting. Popping a sleeping pill and getting conked out for hours isn’t what we’re talking about here. Instead, think about purposeful rest such as results in meditation. Meditation restores balance to the mind, body and spirit. It’s an elegant stress-reliever, as well as a natural mood-lifter.
If you’re not a fan of meditation, you can still utilize natural pathways to improved moods by just taking short breaks throughout the day to focus on something positive. This may sound trite, but if done consistently, it can really make a difference. Simply remove yourself from the hustle and bustle you may find yourself in and close your eyes, breathe deeply, and visualize something in your mind’s eye that is inspiring, or joyful – something that makes you happy. These tiny “micro-breaks” can amount to big benefits to your moods.
The Takeaway on Improving Moods Naturally
We all feel down sometimes. Life is not always easy, and the blues can strike any one of us. The good news, though, is that there are easy and natural solutions that you can use to boost your mood whenever and wherever you need them. This includes feeding your body nourishing and nurturing foods, spending ample time in nature, unleashing the power of fragrance, and smiling even if you may not always feel like it. When you make these subtle changes an essential part of your daily life, you’re going to cultivate a lifestyle that contributes to your peace and joy for decades to come. With all that said, if you’re dealing with chronic mental disorders, depression, or trauma, please seek help from a therapist or mental health professional.
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