How to Boost Your Mood
6 simple steps to improve your emotional wellbeing
A mood is an underlying feeling or state of mind which is often affected by an external factor such as stress or lack of sleep.
Moods tend to be described as “good” or “bad”. Being in a good mood makes people feel hopeful and happy, enabling them to enjoy life and see things in a positive light. A bad mood can make you feel sad, annoyed or afraid, where you might look at things through a negative lens.
Moods can be unpredictable and dictate how we act, feel and respond to certain situations. When we feel “low”, we may react to things in a completely different way to how we would if we were in a good mood.
Learn what causes low mood and how to boost your mood in six simple steps.
What causes low mood?
Our moods and emotional responses are regulated by a part of the brain called the limbic system. Hormones and neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) work within the limbic system and have a direct effect on our moods and emotions. The main hormones associated with mood and feelings of wellbeing are serotonin and dopamine. When your hormones are out of balance, your mood is affected.
Factors that negatively affect mood include:
- Lack of sleep or insomnia
- A poor diet that is high in sugars and refined carbohydrates (bread, pastries, pasta, cakes, biscuits), junk food, caffeine and trans fats (margarine, vegetable oils, fried foods)
- Too much stress
- Being around toxic people or in a situation that causes you distress
- Loneliness or feeling isolated
- Negative media such as the news
- Lack of sunshine or natural daylight
- Grief or a loss of some sort (a death, job loss or a relationship breakdown)
- Lack of exercise or physical movement
- Money worries or financial insecurity
- Hormonal changes such as in menopause, pregnancy or puberty
- Alcohol and drugs
- Certain medications
6 ways to lift mood naturally
- Get good quality sleep as sleep deprivation is a common cause of low mood. When you sleep your brain is able to rest and recharge and produce the necessary hormones for growth and repair. Adopt a relaxing sleep routine before bedtime, limit screen time and avoid caffeinated drinks after lunchtime.
- Daily exercise is key for mental health and mood as it improves circulation and increases the production of endorphins in the body; these are feel-good chemicals produced by the nervous system to reduce pain and promote happiness. Go for a walk, run or swim, take a fitness class (either in-person or online) or do some yoga. You don’t have to go for a 10k run or overexert yourself as low-intensity exercise can be just as effective for your health.
- Eat a nutritious diet which is rich in organic fruits and vegetables, quality proteins (lean meats, quinoa, seeds, beans, lentils) and good fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil). Avoid high-sugar foods as they dysregulate blood sugar levels which can deplete energy levels and cause your mood to plummet. Include mood-boosting foods in your diet such as leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, rocket), broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, oats, mung beans, sesame and pumpkin seeds and organic eggs.
- Stay social and have regular contact with family and friends, whether that be in person or by phone. Socialising develops a sense of belonging, boosts brain health and promotes feelings of wellbeing. Connection is key to maintaining good mental health.
- Practice gratitude as it helps you focus on the positives in your life and all the things you do have, rather than what you don’t have. Concentrating on the positives helps change your outlook on life and improve your overall mood.
- Keep a mood diary. Understanding our moods and our feelings helps us recognise what we can manage and when. Tracking your moods can improve self-awareness and create a sense of self-control and self-regulation.
Healthy dietary and lifestyle habits are key
Our dietary and lifestyle habits play a big role in relation to our moods, making us feel sad, happy, angry or apathetic. Factors such as stress, poor sleep, loneliness and a high-sugar diet can trigger hormonal responses in the body which cause our moods to plummet. Boost your mood by eating a nutritious diet, moving your body daily, socialising with friends and practising gratitude.
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