When our hormones are out of whack, our mood can be greatly affected. “Believe it or not, these chemical messengers can affect everything from how we look to how we feel,” per Byrdie.
Luckily, there are plenty of natural ways to balance them. According to leading endocrinologists, dieticians, and even acupuncturists, the key is learning to manage your feel-good hormones. All it typically takes are a few adjustments and consistency.
With that said, these mood-boosting hacks are not meant to diagnose or cure any medical condition. If you’re suffering from a more serious issue, be sure to seek the help of a doctor or mental health professional first. If nothing else, these mood-balancing tweaks are expert-approved steps you can take all the time. And if they could improve your mood in the process, why not give them a try?
Step Away From Your Screen
The internet can be a bleak place sometimes. It’s loaded with endless heaps of bad news and when we start doom-scrolling, all bets are off. Not to mention, blue lights aren’t particularly good for our eyes or brain waves either. So if you want to look out for the health of your brain and elevate your mood, it might be time to take a break from your device.
Experts say that by stepping away, you’ll free yourself up to look for something to do that boosts one of your biggest mood boosters: serotonin. “Dubbed the “feel-good hormone,” serotonin plays a key role in staving off anxiety and depression,” per Henry Ford Health.
Also, studies have shown that those who suffer from high levels of FOMO (fear of missing out) were also chronic over-users of their phones in many cases. Scrolling constantly can interfere with getting out there and living your life to the fullest. Also, how we engage with our phone is also said to affect the levels of another feel-good chemical we produce: dopamine.
“The prior release of dopamine creates the need to check your phone for the same brain response. With time, you will be spending more time on your phone and not on other essential activities,” per Butler Hospital.
Break a Serious Sweat With Your Mood in Mind
Obviously, exercise is good for you. And it’s not just your physique that reaps the benefits. Working out can be a great way to regulate hormones.
Experts recommend a balanced combination of strength training and aerobic exercise to get the most mood-boosting benefits out of your workout routine. Furthermore, “working out regularly is critical for endocrine health, as it can help balance hormones like cortisol, insulin, thyroid hormones, and your sex hormones,” per Endocrine Web.
Because of the rewards that come with getting in shape, exercise also increases the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls our bodily functions. Exercise can also increase endorphins, which are known as our “natural painkillers.”
Doing good things for your brain and body only does us good. It’s as simple as that. But be sure that you do all of your healthy practices consistently. And again, if you sense you’re dealing with something more serious, turn to a health professional to see what’s going on.
Get Some Sun
A little bit of sunshine may go a long way too. While too much sunshine can be hazardous to our health, 10 to 30 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week can do wonders for our overall mood and Vitamin D production. Just remember to always, always wear sunscreen!
“Sunlight can stimulate the retina receptors in your eyes, leading to stimulation of serotonin. Sunlight can also stimulate vitamin D production, which your body uses to turn tryptophan, an amino acid that can only be obtained from food sources, into serotonin,” per Byrdie.
If you’re not ready to step into the sun or the weather won’t allow it, try light therapy as an alternative. While they can cost up to $900, the benefits will speak for themselves. And you don’t have to break the bank to get what you need. Check out this highly-rated option for $40 bucks on Amazon.
Eat More Fermented Foods
When it comes to our mood, our diet often plays a more significant role than we give it credit for. And if you haven’t incorporated fermented foods as a mood-boosting snack, you might be missing out. Of all the natural mood boosters on the list, this is one of the easiest for me because I’m obsessed with things like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and greek yogurt.
Thanks to all of the good bacteria they contain, fermented foods are famous for improving gut health. On top of that, research shows they may also contribute positively to our overall mood. Fermentation leads to probiotic benefits far beyond the reach of our stomach.
Dieticians say the same microorganisms that support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut are known to boost serotonin levels. Apparently, “the gut microbiome” is responsible for about 90% of the body’s serotonin. Who knew?
Get More Sleep
It’s no mystery that sleep is essential to our overall health. In turn, the better rested we are, the better of a mood we are often in. A good night’s rest can set the tone for our entire day, as well as our body’s production of the mood-boosting hormones we need to get through it.
Research shows that even one night without sleep can cause our mood to drop significantly, leaving us fatigued, irritable, and unmotivated. The good news is, it doesn’t usually take much to turn regular sleep deprivation around. “Sometimes, if we are able to get a few good nights of sleep, our mood will improve. Healthy sleep is important for our well-being and quality of life,” per Sleep Health Foundation.
Read More: Common Mistakes That Destroy a Good Night’s Sleep
Eat More Protein
As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. Or rather, the food we consume directly affects our hormone levels and there’s no way around it. In various studies, foods with high protein have been shown to have a significant impact on hormone production and regulation.
When it comes to our well-being, protein is a wonderful thing for a variety of reasons, including amino acids. “Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer,” per Mind.org.
As with most of these mood-boosting hacks, you will probably need to combine most, if not all of them, for the best results. And if you are suffering from something more serious like depression, definitely don’t rely on a protein shake to fix your problems. But it couldn’t hurt to introduce some healthy habits, in addition to seeing a doctor about what’s going on.
Read More: The Difference Between Complete and Incomplete Protein – And Why It Matters
Add More Vitamin B to Your Diet
Experts say a diet that’s loaded with vitamin B may do wonders for your mood. Beans and lentils are an easy, vitamin-B-rich place to start. Studies have shown it can heighten things like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the body. Not to mention, beans are incredibly high in fiber, which can improve your overall health too.
As noted by the Mayo Clinic, “Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate may be linked to depression.”
Give Acupuncture a Try
Don’t underestimate the power of acupuncture. You might think you’re just being poked with needles all over your body, but with a highly-trained acupuncturist, you’ll be poked in all the right places and receive a variety of benefits.
Studies show that acupuncture can have a positive impact on mood because of its ability to help our bodies regulate the neurotransmitters in our limbic system aka the emotional and behavioral section of the brain. Some people even use acupuncture as a holistic means of treating anxiety and depression.
Read More: Unique Spa Treatments For The Mind And Body
There’s a reason that yoga is forever adored and constantly trending. Yes, it’s great exercise, and exercise increases things like oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphins (feel-good hormones). It can also be helpful for those who need to learn to breathe deeper. But above all else, yoga, like meditation, is designed to benefit the mind and our overall sense of well-being.
“Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration,” per American Osteopathic Association.
If you’re not into yoga, just stretch first thing in the morning for a week and see what happens. While it might seem simple, studies show that stretching just once a day can have a significant impact on our overall mood, including our serotonin levels.
Treat Yourself (With Kindness)
Research shows that non-physical activities can release your mood-boosting hormones too. Listening to music that you love, smelling a pleasant fragrance, and mindfulness meditation are all generally effective ways to enhance mood and release feel-good chemicals. Above all else, be kind to others and namely, yourself. It might do more good than you realize.
“Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy, and compassion, and improve mood. It can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone, which directly impacts stress levels. People who give of themselves in a balanced way also tend to be healthier and live longer,” per The Mayo Clinic.
Whenever you get a chance, spend some quality time with yourself. Turn the lights down low and listen to calming music. Take a bubble bath and light aromatherapy candles. Turn your phone off for a while. The idea is not just to clear your head, but to fully relax. And when you’re feeling down, try talking to yourself the way you’d talk to a friend. Mental health experts say that we should all be doing “self-talk” with our overall well-being in mind, and our self-perception matters.
At the end of the day, how we treat ourselves can have a profound impact on our overall mood. By implementing and combining healthy practices and eating habits, we’re showing ourselves an act of self-love via self-care when we need it most.