Many times, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference. Following are some ideas for lifestyle habits that can boost mood and decrease stress. Overall, establishing routine is grounding and gives structure to what can seem like an endless chain of days. It is important to do something you love to do every day. Find what helps you relax.
Dark chocolate reached celebrity status as a comfort food. However, cocoa in its raw form retains all of cacao bean’s nutrients! While cocoa has some nutrients, many are lost during high heat processing. Here are some compounds of cacao that boost mood and help with anxiety:
- Polyphenols, which have been proven to improve cognitive function and psychiatric disorders like depression
- Salsolinol, which stimulates the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine
- Anandamide which is an endocannabinoid found in the brain and is responsible for feelings of euphoria and improves mood
- Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency symptoms include insomnia, muscle twitches, anxiety and palpitations
- Tryptophan – an amino acid that transforms into stress protecting hormones serotonin and melatonin
Put cacao powder into a smoothie, add it to your breakfast cereals, make all-natural desserts, or eat a couple raw cacao beans or nibs. The Health Hutt also make a variety of raw cacao smoothies and healthful desserts in our deli on Henry Street.
Treat yourself to delicious beverages that promote good mood and wellness.
Chai is full of warming herbs that can warm your body and mind up during Winter. Bonus: it’s also great for digestion. Coffee, while delicious, is known to zap one’s energy. If you’re feeling rough, substitute Chai or hot chocolate for at least that second cup of coffee.
With warming ginger and refreshing, cheerful lemon you can’t go wrong! Thankfully it is a common combination.
If you see lavender hot chocolate or lavender mocha on a menu they are not only delicious and decadent. Lavender has been used traditionally to relieve worry, stress and occasional sleeplessness. Maybe you could even experiment with getting raw cacao powder and bulk lavender and making a lavender hot chocolate at home!
If you see Rose added to beverages, like Health-Ade Kombucha’s Bubbly Rose we currently have on tap, give those a try if it isn’t your usual choice. Rose is known as magical and helpful in relieving the mind of stresses.
Get in the Habit of Tea
Many tea enthusiasts enjoy the ritual of tea to its utmost potential. Drinking tea can be more than throwing a tea bag in a cup of hot water. Drinking tea can become a mindfulness practice or meditation by preparing tea with care. Notice the smells and tastes in detail. One example such attention to detail is the Japanese matcha tea ceremony.
If you include herbal teas, try Chamomile, St John’s Wort and Lemon Balm to uplift mood and support emotional balance. Or try tea blends with adaptogens like Tulsi, Reishi and Ashwaganda. Often times the effects of herbs are accumulative and one needs to take them for more than one day to reap the benefits. Particularly with herbs like Ashwaganda, which is known to decrease stress and improve sleep within 6 to 12 weeks of taking it. Consider tea as a part of daily routine, even if you are an avid coffee drinker!
The bulk section has loose leaf herbs and teas you can brew in a tea ball, use in a tea pot, or make your own tea bags with!
Berries are full of flavonoids and nutrients and are generally low in sugar. Provide your body with more antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins. Smoothies are an easy way to get a lot of berries in your diet. Granolas are another great way to get more berries.
Drink tart cherry juice or make a low sugar pie.
Tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. They also contain a high dosage of proanthocyanidins, which prevent the breakdown of naturally occurring tryptophan in the body.
Plan on picking blueberries next year!
Blueberries can prevent the release of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland under stress that can affect sleep and emotional response. Cortisol is also released to balance blood sugar levels so if we are stressed and eating sugar our cortisol levels and blood sugar can get out of control. Blood sugar spikes and dips are correlated with poor mood. So if our cortisol is drained, our sleep and blood sugar can go out of whack… resulting in a not so good mood!
The Exalted Goji Berry
Goji berries are praised for their high nutritional content. In Traditional Chinese Medicine goji berries is known as an overall nutritive tonic, anti-aging, and eyesight improving. By giving your body a plethora of nutrients, you are bound to feel better. Some research shows Goji berries can help regulate blood sugar. In particular, they are known to some as hypoglycemic and can help in cases of low blood sugar (feeling faint, lightheaded and shaky).
Regulate Blood Sugar
Cultivating a good relationship with sugar goes hand in hand with boosting your mood and maintaining good health! If you have a sweet tooth, try some of the low sugar, fruit sweetened, or no sugar options like Lily’s Chocolate, Choc Zero, and Keto snacks. Eat foods that help your body regulate blood sugar, like berries and cinnamon. White Rabbit Institute for Healing recommends a cup of cinnamon tea before dinner to stimulate digestion and help regulate blood sugar. Do things that help you relax and keep your stress hormones under control, get a bit of movement in, and remember to drink water.
Many essential oils have uplifting and relaxing effects. Try using a drop in your palms, rub your hands together, put your hands near your nose and take a few breaths. If you are sensitive to concentrated oils, put the drops into a carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, or almond oil first. You could also get a diffuser and run it while you are at your desk or on your bed stand as you sleep. Blends intended for emotional balance and stress relief like Aura Cacia Tranquility and Now Peace and Harmony are available. Try one of the following for a single scent. Notice they are citrus and flowers!
- Geranium: Balancing, Soft, Warm, Floral
- Lavender: Harmony for Mind, Body and Spirit
- Chamomile: Supporting, Soothing
- Lemon: Refreshing, Cleansing, Renewing Roman
- Bergamot: Elevating to the spirit, Peaceful Disposition, Inspiring
Take a Bath
If you have access to a bathtub, sometimes a nice soak in epsom or other bath salts with added essential oil for aromatherapy can be just what the body and mind needs.
Relaxing and Motivating Activities
The body needs both true relaxation and movement. Remember that sometimes the end benefits outweigh the resistance to do begin an activity. It is easy to stop moving when it is cold and yucky. Engaging in an activity is probably one of the best things you can do for your mood.
Take yourself to a relaxing event like restorative yoga, meditation, breath work, sound bath, or workshops. Get your blood moving with an energetic yoga class or gym session. Get the old cross-country skis or ice skates out. Start a new hobby that is accessible and interesting for you.
Start with 10 minutes a day and see how you feel. Even just 5 minutes of jumping jacks or dancing around the house to your favorite tunes! There are also youtube videos of yoga classes and meditations available for free.
When in doubt, take deep breaths.
It’s simple and it works. Deep breathing is known to promote emotional stability and happiness. It decreases stress and anxiety, helps one to relax and lowers the heart rate. In Ayurveda, Meditation and Breathing are recommended for overall good health.