Psychology says that mood is an affective state, which consists of the combination of emotions or feelings. A mood is less specific, less intense, and less likely to be provoked by a particular incident or event. A mood is typically described as having either a positive or negative valence which affects nearly all aspects of a human’s behavior. Mood disorders can be defined by noticeable disruptions in emotions in a low level as depression and a high level as hypomania or mania. The better someone feels, the more likely they are to maintain their overall well-being. Instead of being in a bad mood to just remain, using mood boosters can help you to think beyond your current problems and improve your mood.
While natural mood boosters can potentially help improve mood and mental well-being, it’s important to note that they are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for mental disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, it’s crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance. That being said, here are ten best natural mood boosters that may contribute to better mental health:
1. Balanced Diet
A well-balanced and high-quality diet is correlated with feel-good hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine. About ninety to ninety-five percent of serotonin receptors are in the gut. Microbes in the gut produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate our mood and emotions, and the gut microbiome has been implicated in mental health outcomes. So, nutrient-rich foods can positively impact brain function and mood. Your food choices impact your mood on a physical level, supporting or suppressing your brain’s production of important chemicals. Beyond your temporary mood, you can even make a connection between healthy food and a good mood. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B and D, affect mental health. Include a variety of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, dry fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet. Also, getting a consultation with a nutritionist or clinical dietitian for personalized advice can be beneficial to making good choices for food.
2. Regular Exertion
Physical activity has been shown to release endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. Exercise is linked to reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. The chemical levels in the brain, such as serotonin, endorphins, and stress hormones get better when you do exercise or any physical exertion. Regular exercise or any kind of physical exertion such as walking jogging, or running including sports can also boost your sense of control, coping ability, and self-esteem. That is why, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day is mandatory to raise your mental health and overall well-being.
3. Adequate Sleep
Lack of sleep can contribute to mood disorders, i.e. anger, sadness, frustration, irritability, etc. Chronic insomnia decreases happy mood hormones and often develops the risk of depression, anxiety, or hypomania. A night of insufficient sleep may negatively affect the quality of life, productivity, work performance, concentration level, etc. Consequently, sleep is an essential and involuntary process, without which we cannot function effectively. It is as essential to our bodies as eating, drinking, and breathing, and is essential for maintaining healthy physical and mental health. Sleeping well helps to repair and restore our brains, not just our bodies. Quality and adequate sleep both are crucial for overall mental well-being and cognitive function. Therefore, focus on your daily sleeping pattern and get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Establish a consistent sleep routine and create a sleep-friendly environment.
4. Sunlight Exposure
Sunlight exposure is one of the best natural mood boosters. Sunlight triggers the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. Spend time outdoors, especially in the morning. If sunlight exposure is limited, consider light therapy lamps, especially during the winter months. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), getting at least 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight from anywhere on your hands, arms, and face 2-3 times a week is essential to enjoy the vitamin D-boosting benefits of the sun. While taking sunlight, mind that the sun must penetrate the skin. Wearing sunscreen or clothing over your skin may not result in vitamin D production. Sun exposure helps to boost your mood and minimize the risk of anxiety and depression, especially in combination with other treatments.
5. Performing Hobbies
Pursuing activities you enjoy can provide a sense of accomplishment and joy. Studies show that if you treat yourself to a hobby you enjoy, it sets off your brain’s pleasure sensors, and releases chemicals that activate happy hormones in your brain. In turn, these chemicals can increase your motivation to continue. The hobbies you choose can provide you with additional benefits. Identify hobbies or healthy activities, i.e. gardening, painting, traveling, reading novels, or watching movies or documentaries, and perform them once or twice a week. It makes you feel satisfied and decrease the risk of mood swings, stress, and depression.
6. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness practices can reduce stress and improve emotional well-being. The main benefit of mindfulness is learning to listen to your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Mindfulness teaches us how to avoid reacting to feelings as they come up. Mindfulness includes many activities to make yourself calm i.e. hiking or connecting with nature, drinking a cup of tea or coffee or any other beverage of your choice, etc. Additionally, practicing yoga creates calmness and mental clarity, relieves chronic stress patterns, increases body awareness, centers attention, and sharpens concentration. These powerful tools can be effective in regulating the ups and downs of mood disorders. Try to practice mindfulness to enhance self-awareness and help manage negative thoughts. Also, it is beneficial for reducing stress, raising your mental and physical health, and even increasing your overall happiness in life.
7. Social Connection
Socializing and maintaining supportive relationships can have a positive impact on mood, boosting the sense of belonging, reducing feelings of isolation, and improving your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression. Schedule regular social activities, contact friends and family, or consider joining clubs or groups that align with your interests. Additionally, social support can help secure people from the harmful effects of stress. While dealing with a stressful situation, people are less likely to report stress-related health problems when they get engaged in socialization, they feel like they have support from others.
8. Acts of Kindness
Helping others and practicing kindness can uplift compassion, empathy, and self-esteem, and improve mood with feelings of deeply connected. It also helps reduce tension, brings a fresh perspective, and intensifies relationships and friendships. So, look for opportunities to frequently perform acts of kindness, whether small or significant. It can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a hormone directly correlated with stress levels. People who give of themselves in a balanced way are also likely to be healthier and live longer.
9. Herbal Teas
Some herbal teas, such as passionflower, cinnamon, ginseng, lemon balm, holy basil, or valerian root, have calming properties. Herbal teas will not only boost your mood but it is also known to help your immune system and improve the cognitive functions. Herbal teas have been a long-established way of bringing calm to daily life. By identifying these many advantages of herbal tea, enjoy a cup of herbal tea of your choice before bedtime or during times of stress. For better recommendations, consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking medications.
Certain scents can influence mood and emotions. Experiment with essential oils like chamomile, lavender, citrus, rosemary, or peppermint. Each essential oil is thought to interact with the limbic system differently, initiating various possible mood-boosting outcomes. As in theory, when you inhale the oil, scent molecules travel through your olfactory system (your nose and nasal passages) and affect the brain through the limbic system, also known as the ‘emotional brain’ which is the part of the brain involved with behavioral responses, including stress and hormone levels, memory, and heart rate regulation.
Incorporating these best natural mood boosters into your daily routine can remarkably enhance your overall well-being. It is essential to prioritize self-care and listen to your body’s needs. By encouraging positive habits, connecting with nature, maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, practicing mindfulness, and nurturing meaningful relationships, you empower yourself to navigate life’s challenges with resilience and a brighter outlook. Embrace the beauty of simplicity and the natural elements that contribute to your emotional harmony, and you’ll find yourself on a path to sustained happiness and fulfillment. Also, it’s important to remember that individual responses to these strategies can vary, and they may not be sufficient for managing severe mental health conditions. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe mood disturbances, seeking professional help is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.