Most people find that they may suffer from the occasional “funk” or bad mood. For others this funk can root deeper and present itself as mild to severe depression. All of us feel sad or anxious at times, and truth is this is fairly normal as long as it is not a long-term condition. There are so many factors that contribute to our mood and outlook, but often just by seeking balance through nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, attitude, choosing social and media environments, and taking appropriate natural supplements even the more chronic conditions may be healed.
There was a time in my own life when I believed that I had a “problem” with depression. I was not happy with myself, had a very bleak outlook on life, cried a lot, and often felt like I just did not belong. . . anywhere. At the time, antidepressants where not being passed out like candy as they are now, so I managed to avoid going down that path. Instead, I began to make changes – small changes, over time. A few years passed and all of a sudden I realized I was no longer depressed! I still had my “off” days, but I was balanced and motivated. I focused on all the good things in life and could function at a social level. What this taught me was that our symptoms are a wake up call, not something to be covered with a Band Aid.
Scientists are now uncovering some of the root causes of depression and much of this is pointing to deficiencies that lead to cell atrophy in the brain. So, although a prescription may help the symptoms, it comes with side effects and does not address the root issue. Below are some simple, safe and effective dietary and lifestyle strategies to help boost your mood and let you feel your inner glow.
1. Breakfast for the brain. What are you feeding yourself after your nighttime fast? This is a critical time for giving the body’s cells some real food. Processed white flour, sugar, coffee or nothing at all can lead to mood and brain crashes within a few hours. It is important to go for unprocessed or complex carbohydrates and some form of protein. These provide fuel for the brain and stabilize mood as well as provide the building blocks for feel good chemical messengers, like serotonin. Experiment with what works for you. For some, a large breakfast of an organic egg omelet (make sure you eat the yolk as it is what contains mood-boosting EFA’s) or hearty steel cut oats may fit the bill. For others a smoothie with a high quality protein powder works. Not the breakfast eating type? Try a scoop of green powder and a scoop of protein in water and shake. I like Dream Protein and Greens First http://GreensFirst.com/4550. They taste really good and contain very high quality ingredients that mix well in just water.
2. Get some rays. By going outside and exposing ourselves to sunlight we not only promote the body’s production of the brain food vitamin D, but also lack of sunlight will not signal the production of the correct levels of melatonin in the body. Try taking a daily 20-minute walk in the morning or early afternoon to reset the body’s production of melatonin so it increases, as it should, in the evening.
3. Eat fat. Regular consumption of the right kinds of fats is critical to mood health. This was clearly demonstrated in a study by Anita S. Wells, MD, of the University of Sheffield, England. Wells asked 20 healthy men and women to eat high- and low-fat diets for several weeks. People following the low-fat diet developed greater feelings of depression, dejection, and anger. In contrast, those eating high-fat diets had improvements in mood. Now this study did not make a distinction between types of fats, but there is extensive research in support of consuming omega 3’s in particular. One study found that people who eat fish or seafood (our best source of dietary omega 3’s) less than once a week are one-third more likely to experience mild to severe depression. Although I feel strongly about getting as much of your nutrition from food, with our seafood populations being threatened by over fishing and pollution, this is one instance where proper supplementation is critical. A marine source of omega 3’s will give you the most usable form, but it is becoming evident that fish and krill oil are not our best choices environmentally and therapeutically. Please click the link to learn about your best choice for omega 3 supplementation: http://www.naturalnews.com/moxxor_health_benefits.asp?ID=ana. Other good food fats to include are avocados, cold-processed coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds and olives and their oil.
4. Get your B’s. B vitamins, particularly folate and B12 play a key role in regulating mood. If you choose refined flour products over folate-rich fresh leafy green vegetables you are most likely deficient in this key nutrient. Be sure to have a significant portion of your vegetables raw or lightly cooked for the highest nutritent value. Other fresh vegetables and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa are also good sources of B vitamins. Because it has been found that adults lacking adequate B12 are 70% more likely to suffer from depression, it is vital that you incorporate organic eggs, spirulina, lean red meat, fermented dairy and fermented vegetables in the diet. You may need to supplement.
5. Move your body regularly. Evidence shows that people who exercise on a regular basis tend to be less depressed and anxious. This seems to be because of the ability of exercise to regulate neurotransmitter function much like an antidepressant, but without the side effects. The key to reaping these benefits, say experts, is to do it regularly and often. So, get a buddy, put it on your calendar and find what form of exercise inspires you.
6. Choose positivity. This can take some practice, but it is so very important. Surround yourself with other positive people whenever possible, turn off the news, read and recite positive affirmations and pencil in something joyful into every day. Be sure to see a positive mindset as a journey rather than some unattainable destination.
7. Oils to the rescue. Good quality, therapeutic grade essential oils can be an invaluable tool because their effects can be immediate. High-grade essential oils (Young Living is the brand I know, love and use http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com) go directly to the limbic system of the brain. Because this is the most basic part of the brain, we do not need to think or process this information, just simply absorb it. Our sense of smell has a profound affect on our state of mind and emotions. Some of my favorite Young Living mood boosting oils include: Joy, Valor, Bergamot, Jasmine, Lemon, Frankincense, Passion and Hope. Use these in a cold-air diffuser, apply them to your feet, temples or wrists, add a few drops to massage oil or body lotion, the applications are endless!
Go ahead and give some of these suggestions a try and see if the corners of your mouth don’t begin to curl up.
Affirmation from Louise Hay:
“Today I begin a new habit of really loving and caring for myself.”