HOW TO BOOST YOUR MOOD WITHOUT PILLS
As I write this, it isn’t clear what is happening over Christmas – will we be able to be with our loved ones or will we be in lockdown? This is causing huge anxiety, stress and depression amongst people. Covid is not the only pandemic we are dealing with right now: there is a mental health pandemic too.
And with this second lockdown, it isn’t any easier. In fact, with the media focusing so heavily on the worst-case scenario with even good news littered with what-ifs (it feels like watching a soap opera rather than a news program, don’t you think?), moods are moving in the wrong direction.
The stiff upper lip is no longer enough. It has become more and more difficult to find ways of feeling better. It can be tempting to find the answer in tablets but there are ways of boosting your mood naturally.
This is through using the feel-good brain chemicals available to you already. Together, they form an acronym: DOSE (dopamine, oxytocin, seratonin and endorphins). You may already have heard of these but not been aware that not only can you suffer from the lack of them, but that you can increase the supply of them naturally and quite easily too.
So, it is useful to get your daily DOSE to move you into a happier place no matter what is going on outside of you. This is a fix of healthy neurotransmitters (chemicals that help to carry signals through the brain) to lift your mood:
Dopamine: This is concerned with the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. You get a nice boost of it from a sense of achievement. Whether that’s making your bed in the morning (an underrated activity to get your day off to a positive start), clearing out a cupboard (weirdly satisfying as all Marie Kondo devotees will tell you), completing a crossword or finishing off a big project, all can help you get a boost of this important neurotransmitter. The options are only limited by your imagination. The point is that you are looking for a sense of achievement.
Oxytocin: This is also called the cuddle or love hormone. It gives you a sense of connection and safety with others. This of course is a lot more difficult if we are in a lockdown phase but you can still get your oxytocin fix by calling a friend, looking at your old photos and remembering happy times, or having a cuddle with your pet. Also, doing a kindness to others can not only give them a boost of oxytocin but yourself too. Everybody wins.
Seratonin: This one is really important to boost your optimism and feelings of stability. To boost serotonin, practice gratitude daily (get yourself a journal and list all the things you are grateful for, large and small); get 20 minutes in the daylight every day – even a cloudy day helps boost your serotonin levels’ enjoy good quality sleep (easier said than done but I have a Sleep-Well MP3 which will help) and eat foods rich in tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin). These include chicken, pumpkin seeds, bananas.
Endorphins: These are the brain’s natural feel good chemical which helps us deal with pain better. Natural sources are laughter and exercise. And, if your dancing is anything like mine, a good dance will give you your exercise and laughter all at once!
Getting your daily DOSE is not only easy (mostly) but the benefits are huge and there are no nasty side-effects, just that you get to feel a lot better more of the time. All it takes is a little thought and off you go.
And, as an added benefit, feeling good is good for the immune system and a strong immune system has to help protect you from Covid too.
Of course, if you feel you would like some support, I am here, help is at hand. You don’t have to do this alone. Why not call me on 0345 130 0854 to find out how I can help you.
PS If you don’t believe me about the bed-making, check out this TED Talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iaGn8pqQQE
© Tricia Woolfrey
Image with thanks to Freestocks, Unsplash