Look at your diet: By cutting down on sugar and alcohol we can help to balance out yo-yoing moods. Both these substances increase a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel rewarded and pleasurable but this doesn’t last forever and – once levels fall – we can feel lower than we did before. So as tempting as chocolate bar look, especially when we feel low, try to stay away from sugar.
EAT YOURSELF HAPPY
Look at your diet: By cutting down on sugar and alcohol we can help to balance out yo-yoing moods. Both these substances increase a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel rewarded and pleasurable but this doesn’t last forever and – once levels fall – we can feel lower than we did before. So as tempting as chocolate bars look, especially when we feel low, try to stay away from sugar.
Eat oily fish twice a week, snack on chia seeds or try taking a supplement, as fatty acids are great ‘brain’ food and can help to fight mood swings. Our brain is made up to 18% of Omega-3s, however, we don’t produce them, so they have to be sources from outside.
Don’t forget about proteins! They are broken down in the body to make aminoacids and then used to create neurotransmitters, which are responsible for keeping our mind and mood balanced. Go for: nuts, seeds, meat, fish, bean and lentils, whey protein and eggs.
TOP UP ON RAYS
Feeling blue? With the lack of sunlight and shorter days, many of us can feel less than cheery over the winter. SAD is a condition commonly experienced in the winter months, which is characterised by feelings of depression or low mood. These symptoms are often accompanied by reduced energy levels, increased desire to sleep, increased appetite and poor concentration.
Because our body makes vitamin D through the action of sunlight on our skin, our natural levels can easily drop in winter. It is known that vitamin D has important roles in keeping our immune system healthy, and our bones and teeth strong. But there is also a possible link between reduced vitamin D levels and low mood in winter.
If you feel especially down on dark winter mornings, consider using a special light lamp alarm clock. The lamp gradually turns itself on (and gets brighter and brighter) to mimic natural dawn sunrise, to wake you up slowly before your alarm goes off. Research has shown, people feel more positive and find it easier to get out of bed in the darker months after using it.
We all shiver occasionally during cold evenings. Having a sauna twice a week is a relaxing and warming way of getting through the winter days!
B6, B12 and folate are crucial nutrients for a natural daily chemical process called methylation. The outcome of this process is the balancing of the neurotransmitters: dopamine and adrenalin – which are involved in mood regulation. This is why these 3 nutrients are required for normal psychological function. They can all be easily found in a B complex or taken separately if higher dosing of each is needed.
Serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone’ is a chemical produced by our brain and intestines that works as a neurotransmitter, helping us to relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Seretonin is mainly responsible for maintaining a balanced mood and if you are deficient, this can lead to anxiety, low mood or even depression.
Unfortunately, due to our diet, lifestyle and stress levels most of us struggle with an imbalance of gut flora. Try taking high-quality probiotic
supplements to restore your intestinal flora and include fermented foods in your daily diet Think: kefir, pickles, sauerkraut or miso.
Daily exercise is the easiest and the most effective way to increase serotonin levels. However, make sure you chose an activity that you really like and enjoy. If you feel like you are forcing yourself it may not have the same beneficial effects. That may be a result of our ancient instincts. Our brain can tell the difference between running because you’re hunting something, and running because it’s hunting you.
Oxytocin is another ‘feel good’ hormone. Released when we experience physical contact from a loved one, this unique hormone is just as powerful as serotonin. Whenever you feel low and need a lift, grab a hug off your favourite person for a natural feel-good, fuzzy feeling.
If you are feeling tired, irritated or struggle to get up every morning, Magnesium is an excellent mineral to take, as it plays a major role in the development of serotonin. It can also increase energy levels and helps us to feel better about ourselves.