We’ve all had those days or weeks where things just don’t go our way. Whether you’re dealing with a lot of stress at work or coping with the loss of a loved one, hard times can really get you down and not feeling like yourself.
However, sometimes, there are other factors at play. As health care providers, we always try to to get to the root cause of an issue and see mood disorders as a symptom, not the problem. For example, health conditions like nutritional deficiencies, thyroid disorders, chronic pain syndromes, food allergies and hormonal imbalances can all lead to mood disorders like depression, anxiety or insomnia.
Whatever the case may be, here are a few simple things you can do on a regular basis to boost your mood and support your overall mental and physical wellbeing.
1. Start with food
The vitamins and nutrients we get from food are not only essential for our physical health, but for our mental health as well. For instance, Iron and Vitamin B-12 deficiencies can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety and irritability. Additionally, protein deficiency can lead to low mood, as it’s required for the synthesis of many important neurotransmitters (brain chemical messengers) including dopamine.
If you feel like you might have a nutritional deficiency, talk to your licensed healthcare provider and get tested first before adding any supplements to your diet. Too much of minerals iron like can become toxic if taken in excess.
However, it’s always a good idea to fill your plate with lots of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Keep inflammatory foods like sugar, processed food, hormone-free red meat, and refined grains like white rice, white bread and pasta to a minimum as they have been linked to depression.
2. Move your body
Heard of the “runner’s high”? Physical activity is known to release endorphins, i.e. those “feel good” pain-reducing chemicals that produce a positive, euphoric feeling. Regular exercise may even be comparable to antidepressants in some individuals and has also been shown to alleviate anxiety.
To get the most mood-boosting benefits, aim for at least 30 to 40 minutes of moderate physical activity at least three times a week. Some examples include cycling, swimming, and resistance training.
3. Get a good night’s sleep
We all know how good it feels to get a really good night’s sleep, especially if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a while. On the flipside, we’ve likely all felt the side effects of sleep deprivation at one point or another – irritability, moodiness and even depression.
The best way to ensure you get the most restful sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. This means adopting habits like going to bed at the same time every night, sleeping in a dark room, and avoiding screen time for at least one hour before bedtime.
However, if you’ve tried these tactics and are still having issues with your sleep, it may be time to visit a licensed healthcare provider to see if they can look into your cortisol levels, blood sugar, and/or thyroid. You can book a free Meet and Greet Consultation Call with one of our Naturopathic Doctors here.
4. Take the right supplements
Like we mentioned earlier, nutritional deficiencies can negatively impact your mood so you want to make sure you’re fueling your body right. Vitamin D is an important one, especially for Canadians since we get less sun exposure during the winter months.
A high-quality fish oil supplement can also make a big difference, as the omega-3 fats support healthy brain signalling and mood. And of course, you want to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin B12 and Iron (see point #1). There are also a number of herbs like lemonbalm, chamomile and milky oats that can make wonderful, calming teas. Just make sure you consult your health care provider before incorporating any herbal or vitamin supplements into your diet.
5. Try acupuncture
Acupuncture has amazing potential when it comes to stress reduction, as it has been shown to help suppress the “fight or flight” feeling we get when we’re feeling stressed or anxious while supporting the “rest and digest” nervous system.
How does it work? One promising study from 2013, for example, found that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones. If you’ve never had acupuncture, it is definitely worth a try.
We offer community acupuncture here at Aurum. No, it doesn’t hurt, and most people find it incredibly relaxing.
6. Talk to a therapist
It’s normal to have ups and downs in life, and sometimes low or anxious moods pass and make way for better times. However, sometimes they can be the sign that you need to work through some deeper issues.
While you can talk to your family or friends, a therapist can offer a unique perspective on your situation. Similarly to finding a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), it’s important you find someone who you feel comfortable with.
Interested in our psychotherapy services? Book a visit with Agnes Da-Eun Kim today.
7. Make time for yourself
These days, it seems like everybody’s talking about “self-care” – but it’s more than just a buzzword. When you’re trying to balance work, life and everything in between, me-time is usually last on the agenda. However, it’s so important to make sure you take good care of your body, mind, and soul every day, not just when you’re feeling low.
Here are a few ways you can add more self-care into your daily routine:
- Try meditation or yoga and aim to do this at the same time every day. Even just a few minutes of consistent practice can do wonders.
- Take up a new creative hobby like knitting or playing music.
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Set aside some time on the weekend or a day off to go on a nature walk.
- Treat yourself to an acupuncture session or massage therapy.
Some days, you’re going to feel sad or down, and that’s okay. You don’t have to rush to “fix” it right away. But remember: you don’t need to suffer alone. Know your options, ask questions, and get the support you need to get you back on track.