A few weeks into the new year, we’re already catching ourselves falling back into the daily, often stressful grind. We swore this year we’d step off that hamster wheel, take better inventory of our physical and mental health and longevity.
Or perhaps in 2022, we’re seeking solutions and daily practice to better access gratitude in situations that tend to leave us sour. Those feelings, left to fester, can easily worsen and become more insidious.
Lucky for us, there’s still time to right the ship. Here are our favorite quick fixes, mood improvement strategies, as well as some more pervasive lifestyle changes to help.
- Sunshine on my shoulders…
Our distant ancestors woke up and wound down with natural light and darkness. While artificial light helps us push through all-night work-a-thons and Netflix binges, our bodies are still wired for the ancient world.
It works the other way too. Extended periods of darkness, whether work-related or as a byproduct of where one lives, can lead to depression. That’s why it is so important to take advantage of the light available.
An hour spent outside, or even turning on bright lights indoors during morning hours, can go a long way to improving the way we feel.
Just as light has its place, perhaps even more important is the time we spent powered down, recharging out batteries each night. The best way to enjoy life and see the good in the world is to move through it in a well-rested body.
Ideally, 7 to 8 hours is the sweet spot, but that’s easier said than done. It can be difficult to settle in for the night amid our loud, busy lives, so full of constant stimuli. Experts recommend a hot shower, reading before bed instead of screen time, and a cool dark room.
- Diet and Exercise
The couch may look comfortable when we’re feeling down, but sweating a little can go a long way. A consistent exercise routine increases strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health meaning our bodies move freer and easier throughout the day – not to mention the natural endorphin boost that occurs during exercise.
When it comes to nutrition, so much of what tastes great puts a real strain on overall health. Processed foods with high sugar contents can actually mimic the chemical effects of dangerous and addictive narcotics.
According to a 2007 study from the Department of Psychology at Princeton:
Four components of addiction are analyzed. “Bingeing”, “withdrawal”, “craving” and cross-sensitization are each given operational definitions and demonstrated behaviorally with sugar bingeing as the reinforcer. These behaviors are then related to neurochemical changes in the brain that also occur with addictive drugs.
On the other hand, choosing foods that are not only delicious but fuel for specific health functions, can be massively beneficial. For instance, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids help improve mood and heart health.
- Daily Practices
Another well documented way to move the needle on the state of our mood and emotional well being is through various daily practices meant to facilitate mindfulness and train gratitude.
Meditation daily journaling are two strategies that some of the most productive, prolific, and generally happy people incorporate into their daily routines. There are even some wonderful mindfulness training exercises that combine a few of the mood boosting tips mentioned above into one.
Check out this article from mindful.org for a ton of creative mindfulness practices you can implement into your routine today.
- Explore products that have helped other people
When life becomes especially overwhelming and you just can’t seem to shake the effects of stress on your mind or body, it may be time to explore some prescription supplementation.
Products like LDN, NAD+ and Glutathione (GSH) have been shown to increase energy levels, decrease inflammation in the body (a marker of oxidative stress), and can help with overall mood. These therapies can be used separately or in combination as a part of an overarching wellness and longevity regimen.
Whether the stressors in your life are causal to a simple case of the blues in fleeting or more chronic depressive tendencies, these five research backed strategies can almost certainly turn things around.
It may not happen all at once. After all, our mood in a given moment is just a slice of a larger mental health puzzle. “Getting better” is a commitment to wellness, a consistent state of being. Still, the first step is the hardest, and we think you’ll be surprised at how fast you’ll build momentum towards mastering mood regulation.