Boost naturally your
By Daisy Mellar
However, many of us still struggle with these inward battles and commonly turn to pharmaceutical solutions for help, many of which have extremely negative side effects. By reviewing scientific research, we have outlined a few methods that could help you to boost your mood naturally.
One of the most common theories of depressive moods is that they result from irregularly low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers which send signals between neurons that influence the way we feel. Serotonin is particularly important in mood regulation as it is a critical regulator of noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine), another neurotransmitter which is needed for alertness and energy. Many antidepressant medications base their rationale on this theory, and though they may be a cheap and convenient method, their side effects can make them very unappealing. So, to try and steer away from pharmaceuticals solutions, we have compiled a few lifestyle tips based on scientific research, aimed to help boost your mood by levelling the balance of serotonin. As the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, however, with proper lifestyle changes and commitment, anyone can actively shift their mood in the direction of happiness.
Everything we put into our body affects us, whether the outcome is physical, mental, or both. Think how you feel after having eaten a whole Domino’s pizza compared to a grilled fish, vegetable, and quinoa medley – which one leaves you feeling sluggish and ready for a long nap, and which one leaves you ready to grab your hiking boots and go out on a long walk? Whatever your preference, the fact is that foods are powerful tools in determining our mood, and this is partially due to their influence on neurotransmitters.
Many psychological studies have been conducted looking at the relationship between food and the chemistry of our bodies, with results showing an association between an intake of processed fast foods and foods with high amounts of refined sugar with symptoms of depression. Foods rich in carbohydrates like starchy vegetables and grains have been shown to raise serotonin levels by increasing the amount of an amino acid called tryptophan (which is a forerunner of serotonin), as well as increasing our chemical sensitivity to serotonin. On the other hand, high-protein foods like dairy products are rich in a different type of amino acid which compete with tryptophan and result in less serotonin being produced. This can leave you feeling lethargic and less alert. To increase levels of serotonin and boost energy, try a Mediterranean diet (shown by studies to best protect against the development of depression), which typically includes low intake of meat and meat products and high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and fish.
Just like diet, acknowledging the benefits of exercise is no new revelation. Those who exercise regularly are found to experience benefits in cognitive performance, improved self-concept, and have reduced tiredness. Results from scientific studies suggest that aerobic exercise reduces generalized anxiety, particularly when working out three times a week at 70-90% of maximum heart rate for 20 minutes. For depression, high-intensity weight training has been found more effective as a treatment than low-intensity weight training, and acute exercise, in particular, is suggested to increase levels of tryptophan.
A great idea, if you are looking to improve your physical and mental health through exercise, is to try boxing-based exercises. Boxing is excellent because it involves a lot of variation and benefits a variety of muscle groups and cardiac systems. Jump rope intervals improve stamina, resistance training develops muscle strength and power, and compound exercises like sprints, shadow boxing, and heavy and speed bag boxing aerobically work multiple muscle groups.
Now, don’t go expecting hard and fast results straight away. Though a runner’s high is a common experience, it’s unlikely that a bowl of whole grains and greens are going give you instant joy and euphoria. However, the findings of many psychological studies do show these methods noticeably reduce depressive symptoms over time, as well as having many other health benefits. That being said, it is always important to remember to not beat yourself up if you miss a session or give into a craving – it happens to the best of us, and, sometimes, it’s what our bodies need! Just make sure you get back on the horse and keep going. A wellness buddy is a great way to stay on track!