We’ve all experienced those moments when life seems to be stuck in a never-ending loop, leaving us feeling unmotivated, uninspired, and in a perpetual rut. The sensation of being trapped in a monotonous cycle can weigh heavily on our emotional well-being. However, the good news is that even in the most stagnant of situations, there’s always room for change and growth.
It’s essential to keep in mind that, even during moments when we perceive circumstances as beyond our control, we maintain the ability to alter our responses, reactions, and behaviors. We have the choice to engage in numerous lifestyle habits that can profoundly impact our mental state and emotional well being.
Check out my favorite mood-boosting lifestyle changes below and read about the reasons why they are effective in improving your mood and overall quality of life.
Exercise is a great way to boost your mood, concentration, and alertness. It can also help you sleep better, reduce stress, and improve your self esteem.
Why It Works: Physical activity releases endorphins, often referred to as “feel-good” hormones. These neurotransmitters interact with receptors in your brain to reduce pain perception and boost your mood. Also, research has shown that moderate regular exercise treats depression as well as prevents it. Exercise has been associated with reduced risk of depression and anxiety as well as lower rates of mental illnesses overall.
Exercise also increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps improve mood and cognitive function. So while exercise is important for keeping us physically healthy, it is equally essential for nurturing our mental health.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can keep your gut microbiome happy and improve your mental health. Simply put, our mood is affected by our food! Research suggests lower rates of mental health conditions (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder) among those consuming a well-balanced diet, focused on protein and vegetables, than those following a standard Western diet consisting heavily of processed and fast foods.
Why It Works: A balanced diet rich in nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and amino acids like tryptophan (found in red meat, dairy products, turkey) provides the necessary building blocks for neurotransmitters like serotonin. When our brains are well-nourished and our blood sugar is stable, we are better equipped to regulate our mood and emotions.
Getting enough and good quality sleep is essential for our health and is crucial to ensure a stable mood and having us feeling our best.
Why It Works: During deep sleep, the brain processes emotional information and consolidates memories. Inadequate sleep impairs mood regulation, making it more challenging to handle stress and negative emotions.
Stress can cause us to have symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and depression.Taking steps to combat stress in your life can have profound impacts to improve how you feel on a daily basis and how you respond to difficult situations.
Why It Works: Chronic stress triggers the release of cortisol, which, when elevated for prolonged periods, can lead to mood disorders. Stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and exercise can help lower cortisol levels and promote emotional well-being.
Sunlight and Vitamin D
Sunlight and vitamin D plays an important role in regulating mood and has been associated with decreasing depressive symptoms.
Why It Works: Exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin and helps the body produce vitamin D. Both of these factors play vital roles in regulating mood and warding off symptoms of depression.
Ask your provider to check your vitamin D levels – most patients are deficient in this very important vitamin!
Social connection with others can help to boost mood and allow us to better manage our emotions.
Why It Works: Human beings are inherently social creatures. Engaging in meaningful social interactions and building relationships can release oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone.” It promotes bonding and feelings of well-being. Social connection and love can also help to keep you physically healthier.
Pursue Passion and Hobbies
Spending time doing hobbies we enjoy can improve our mental health.
Why It Works: Engaging in activities you’re passionate about stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Pursuing hobbies and interests provides a sense of fulfillment and happiness. Don’t have a hobby? Check out this great list to get started.
Cultivating a mindset of gratitude can help regulate your emotions, uplift your perspective, foster a stronger sense of connection with others, and serve as a shield against the adverse impacts of stress.
Why It Works: Practicing gratitude shifts your focus toward positive aspects of life, fostering an optimistic outlook. It encourages the brain to produce more serotonin, enhancing mood and overall well-being.
Check out this 5-day Gratitude Challenge to get you started!
Declutter Your Environment
Creating an uncluttered environment paves the way for healthy habits to develop more effortlessly. It can improve sleep, elevate your mood, and promote a more peaceful mindset.
Why It Works: A cluttered and disorganized environment can create stress and anxiety. Decluttering promotes a sense of control and tranquility, leading to improved emotional well-being.
Mindfulness and Meditation
A mindfulness and meditation practice helps to nurture the mind and body.
Why It Works: Mindfulness and meditation techniques help rewire the brain, strengthening the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for rational thinking and emotional regulation. These practices can reduce negative thought patterns, reduce stress, and promote emotional balance.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Why It Works: Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. It also has many therapeutic benefits for our mental health – it reduces the levels of stress hormones, promoting a positive and relaxed mood.
Set Goals and Celebrate Achievements
Let’s set goals we want to achieve and go out and reach them!
Ready to get your mood back on track?
Don’t know where to start? Choose ONE one habit! Need accountability? Call or text a friend to hold you accountable or better yet take them with you on this mood boosting journey (they will thank you later!)
By incorporating these changes into your daily life, you can experience a more positive and balanced mood. Remember that these changes are not only about feeling better but also about fostering long-term emotional resilience and happiness. Embrace these lifestyle adjustments, and you’ll find yourself on a path to a happier and more fulfilling life.