1. Eat More Whole Foods- We hear this all the time, but it couldn’t be more true! Dr. Alan Logan says, “Nutrition actually influences the structure and the functioning of our brain cells. We now know that foods you eat directly influence communication within the brain.”
TIP: Improve your mood with food by cutting out processed foods, in favor of natural and whole foods. Easy changes like switching to brown rice or quinoa rather than white rice can make a big difference in your long term health!
2. Get More Sleep- People suffering from insomnia, or lack of sleep, produce more stress hormones than people who get a full night of sleep. This puts your body into a hyper-aroused state making it harder for you to wind down.
TIP: Try herbal supplements such as melatonin or valerian root for stress management and to aid in falling asleep and staying asleep. If you still need help in winding down, try a warm bath with lavender, yoga, or mindful meditation before bed. For one week make an attempt to go to bed 30 minutes earlier, if you are able to do that for one week, try one hour earlier the next!
3. Spend Time Outdoors- Research has shown that people who spend time doing physical activities outdoors have a significantly different mental outlook. People who exercise outdoors are known to have lower levels of cortisol as well.
TIP: Get creative! We are lucky to live in a state with a lot of outdoor options. Try snowshoeing, go for a hike, run outdoors when possible, play outdoor sports at a park, just get outside!
4. Make Contact- No, we don’t mean through social media. Spend time with your friends face to face! Having social support will not only boost your mood, but it is important to have social connections and interactions in person.
TIP: Make time at least once a month to spend time with your friends. Friends can be just as important to our mental health as exercise and good nutrition. Expand your social circle, and make the effort to not only see your current friends, but to make new ones as well!
5. Exercise! We know, it’s a given, but it couldn’t be more beneficial to your health and happiness. Working out for even 20 minutes a day will not only produce feel-good chemicals in the body, it will raise your core temperature which can have a calming effect on the body, it is also known to reduce immune-system chemicals which can contribute to issues like depression.
TIP: You don’t always have to hit the gym to reap the benefits of a good workout. Play with your kids, garden, take your dog for a brisk walk. It all counts!