7 Natural Antidepressants (drug free, mood boosting activities and foods)
As you may know, i'm a big fan of doing things naturally! So here's 7 natural ways you can boost your mood if you are feeling a little low:
1) Matcha tea (which can be made into a delicious lattes and is available in different grades), contains polyphenols such as EGCG, which have an anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effect and L Theanine, which has a meditative, anti-anxiety effect.
2) Saffron. In some studies, Saffron has been shown to be as powerful as the antidepressant drug Prozac. Depression has been linked to inflammation in the brain. For more 'edible' mood boosters, try this useful link: https://bebrainfit.com/natural-antidepressants/, which mentions other effective other herbal supplements you may want to consider. I always advise working with a skilled medical herbalist in this instance, rather than self medicating.
3) Boost your gut microbiome. Increasing research shows the connection between our moods, cognitive function and a healthy gut. Strains of good bacteria shown to directly improve low mood (amongst other things), include: B Longum, B. Lactis, B. Bifidum, L. Acidophilus, L. Casei, L. Helveticus and L. Rhamnosus, with L. Breve showing improvements to anxiety. Brands which have been independently tested include VSL3, Align, Mutaflor, Culturelle, Florastar, Yakult and Activia, but a qualified nutritionist can also advise on reputable brands. These good bugs will need feeding with prebiotics! (natural compounds from healthy foods which support the microbiome.) For more information, I highly recommend the book T'he Psychobiotic Revolution' by John F Cryan, PHD & Ted Dinan MD, PHD.
4) Comedy. There's a huge amount of research showing the profound benefits of on laughter on our mental and physical health, but perhaps because it's obvious, it's easy to overlook it's immense power. Laughter had been proven to lower stress hormones by as much as 70%, relieve pain, improve brain function, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and even burn calories! With a professional background working in comedy and taking 'Comedy for Stress Management' workshops, I'll be writing more on this subject in the near future! But in the meantime, I can highly recommend these comedy courses for regular fun: Logan Murray's stand up & joke writing courses http://loganmurray.com/ and Monkey Toast Improv https://monkeytoast.co.uk/. Enjoy the release of pressure! :) 5) Power ups. Some psychologists suggest we are evolutionarily predisposed to looking at the negative aspects of life for our survival. Game designer Jane McGonical, and inventor of the excellent game 'Super Better' https://www.superbetter.com/science came up with an innovative way to tackle her depression, when recovering from a serious accident. She planned her weeks like a game, giving herself a personal list of 'Bad guys' (difficult challenges), Quests (things to achieve), and 'Power ups' (activities that boosted her strength and resilience). She describes a 'Power up' as, "anything I could do, even on my worst day, to feel just a little bit good.." Consider balancing your challenges with Power ups. I recommend making a list of personal ones, (like spending time with your pet, enjoying a self massage, exercising, phoning a friend) and using them as and when you need, throughout the day.
6) Sunlight, or access to natural bright light. In the dark winter months, investing in a SAD 'bright light' may help with mood.You usually need to be situated fairly close for an effect, for around 15 minutes a day, ideally in the morning. Check your manufacturer's guidelines. (See details of the one I use (Lumie), in my previous blog post '8 ways to use light for health').
7) Acts of kindness. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that, "it is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself", and interestingly, acts of kindness have be scientifically shown in several studies to boost the mood of the person performing the act of kindness. Care and consideration for our loved ones fall into this category, as does offering kindness to strangers, and volunteering activities. For more information on this topic and other useful happiness interventions, try the excellent book: 'The How of Happiness' by Sonja Lyubomirsky. and more on the subject of strong social bonds, also see 'Born to be good' by Dacher Keltner.
Hypnosis and self hypnosis has been scientifically proven to alleviate depression.
If you are currently in a bad way, drop me a line on email@example.com
The book 'The Mindful Way through Depression', by Mark G. Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Zindel Segal and John D. Teasdale, is also an excellent resource.
This list would not be complete without mentioning it's okay, normal and perfectly healthy to be down sometimes, and that we need to be able to feel things, both good and bad. The time to consider seeking help might be; if you've been feeling low or hopeless for more than a few weeks, and are lacking incentive to move forwards.
Our moods often have deep, individual, subconscious roots which are highly personal, and it's for this reason that targeted one-to-one therapy is often more effective and powerful than generic advice.
Of course there's also exercise, having a creative outlet or hobby, and many more, too many to mention! Please let me know your own favourite mood boosters in the comment below!
All the best, good luck, and may the laughs be with you. ;)
KAREN HAYLEY BA (Hons) C.Hyp SICH.D.Hyp. SICH.CNLP Practitioner 07444 062128
This blog is intended to entertain & inform, please consult your doctor before commencing any kind of treatment.