Changes in our mood can be normal, even expected. We all have days when we feel happy or cheerful, like we can conquer all of our goals. Then something in life gets us down and we find ourselves sad, angry, or somewhere in between.
A bad mood can lower our confidence and productivity and begin a cycle of negative thinking. Tasks large or small that seemed possible or even easy can become daunting and overwhelming.
At their worst, mood fluctuations can be debilitating, but there are several things you can do to help you get out of a funk. We’ve put together a complete A to Z list of ways to naturally boost your mood, and we’re sure there’s something on this list for everyone!
A is for App
Apps That Help Boost Mood
There are scores of mood boosting apps available these days. You can find five free top-rated options here. And here you can read about the 8 best mental health apps of 2021 so far – but don’t be afraid to keep looking around if none of these suit your fancy!
B is for Banana
Bananas Boost Mood
Bananas pack serious mood-lifting punch! Containing multiple vitamins and nutrients, bananas not only boost our bodies physically but mentally! Bananas actually produce dopamine quinine. When consumed, this form of dopamine can improve our mood! Fun fact: those grody brown looking spots on bananas actually contain the most dopamine quinine!
C is for Coffee
Can Caffeine Improve Mood?
Some of us love a good cup of joe, or ten, but did you know that having “75 mg of caffeine every 4 hours can lead to a pattern of sustained improvement of mood over the day“?!? WHAT? This fascinating article spells out all of the science, and for coffee-loving nerds like us, it was an absolute delight to read.
D is for Drink
How Hydration Affects Our Mood
Did you know a level of hydration just one percent below optimal can affect your mood adversely? Staying hydrated is one of the quickest and easiest ways to support a positive mood. But how much water is enough?
Opt to drink at least half your weight in ounces each day (a 160 lb. person should aim for at least 80 oz. of water each day). To help keep track, purchase a water jug capable of holding your daily water goal. We like this one. Not interested in housing another water bottle? We understand that, too, and that’s why we created a suite of free printables to help you track your water intake or other healthy habits! Find them here.
E is for Exercise
Exercise is the Number One Way to Boost Your Mood
Get moving! No matter what kind of exercise you enjoy (or tolerate), a single session of exercise (as little as 20 minutes!) can reverse feelings of fatigue, confusion, and depression, as well as help reduce symptoms of ADHD and PTSD. This article does an incredible job of explaining the science behind exercise and mood improvement.
F is for Friends
Friendship Boosts Your Mood
Friendships can play an important role in improving your overall health. Adults with a strong social circle have a reduced risk of health problems including depression, hypertension, and more. Older adults with rich social lives are also likely to live longer than those with fewer social connections. Read more about the ways friendship improves your mood and overall health here.
G is for Giggle
How Laughter Can Improve Your Mood
Did you know that giggling or laughing (or even observing someone else laughing) activates multiple regions of your brain? These regions include the motor cortex, the frontal lobe, and the limbic system. By activating all three, neural connections are strengthened, your mood is improved, and you physically and emotionally can remain more calm under stress.
Seriously. Laughter may even help to control serotonin levels, not unlike some antidepressants!
H is for Houseplants
Houseplants Can Improve Your Mood and Contribute to Better Overall Health
From helping to clean the air in your home to producing fragrances that improve cognitive abilities or promote relaxation, did you know houseplants can play a pivotal role in improving your health? Check out these 15 Houseplants to Boost Your Mood and Health (brightside.me)
I is for Ice Cold Showers
How Hydrotheraphy Can Benefit Your Mental Health
Okay, so your shower doesn’t have to be ICE cold to benefit you. A shower is considered cold if it is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which might feel ice cold to some of us who prefer piping hot showers.
By taking a cold shower for up to 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week, many people have seen an improvement in relief of depression-related symptoms. Cold water sends electrical impulses to your brain that serve to increase your alertness and energy levels. These electrical impulses also assist in releasing endorphins, which are known as “happiness” hormones.
J is for Jump
Jumping Rope to Increase Happiness
Jumping rope is an excellent form of exercise if your joints can handle it! The activity itself makes you feel like a kid again, but it also does some pretty beneficial stuff inside your body! Namely, jumping rope releases endorphins, which make you feel happy and lighter in spirit!
Can’t seem to find your gradeschool jump rope? If you’re in the market for a new one, this one looks great!
K is for Kissing
Pucker Up, Because Kissing Can Turn Your Frown Upside Down
Kissing can decrease the stress hormone cortisol and increase serotonin, which helps maintain a balanced mood. Kissing can also release oxytocin, a hormone that induces a sense of calm in humans. Worth noting: lowering cortisol can also serve to reduce blood pressure…so kissing’s good for that too.
L is for Lighting
Lighting May Improve Mood, Productivity, and General Health
From dimmer switches for anxiety to red light therapy for restlessness to natural light when you’re feeling blue, the type of lighting you use can make a major difference in your mood! Read all about it here.
M is for Music
Get to Groovin’ Because Music is Good for Your Mood
A study discussed in Time magazine shows that music can improve your mood, due to the way it affects your brain. Not so fast, though. Sometimes silence is better- it depends on the music. Just like music can boost your mood, it can bring your mood down too. It’s all in the beat you choose.
N is for No
Saying “No” Can Help You Manage Your Mood
Being able to say “no” can help combat feelings of resentment. In fact, setting boundaries that allow you to say “no” is an excellent form of self-care. That doesn’t mean you should never say yes (keep reading!), it just means knowing the parameters you function best between is essential to maintaining your own sanity and cheerful spirit!
O is for Oils
What Essential Oils Boost Mood?
Essential oils have been a hot topic for many years now, so it should come as no surprise they make this list. With hundreds of varieties to choose from, the list of essential oils that could boost mood is endless, but a few to consider include: lavender, chamomile, orange, bergamot, vetiver, and grapefruit. Mix up a topical recipe using a few of these selections and your favorite carrier oil, or diffuser one or more of these suggestions. Citrus oils are great to promote cheer, while lavender, chamomile and vetiver promote a sense of calm and rest.
P is for Prayer
Prayer and/or Meditation are Key to Mental Health and Positive Mood
Prayer and mediation can contribute to releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain. When we feel stressed or like we need to “do something” about a situation, but don’t have a clue where to start, engaging in prayer pulls us away from a “survival mode” mentality and allow us to focus our thoughts on something outside ourselves. Stress inhibits our ability to think clearly, so when we stop and take time to sit and pray or meditate, we are much less likely to make rash decisions that don’t serve us well, and much more likely to emerge with a renewed sense of peace and clarity.
Q is for Quiet
Silence Benefits Both Mind and Body
In this day in age, we are so easily accessible thanks to the advent of the smartphone. It makes complete silence REALLY hard to come by, even with notifications turned off. Barring completely hiding our phone for a few hours a day (great idea, by the way), complete silence is a luxury most of us don’t afford ourselves.
But just 2 hours of silence is long enough to boost production of brain cells. This is great for your memory, both short and long term. And even 2 minutes of silence is able to lower your heart rate and blood pressure– even more so than 2 minutes of soothing music!
R is for Running
Will Exercise Boost Mood?
Exercise already made the list once, but the benefits are so great, we want to talk about it a little more here. If running isn’t your favorite, that’s okay. Both anaerobic and aerobic exercise of all kinds can increase serotonin and dopamine levels, which promote positive feelings.
Related, when you’re feeling stressed or depressed and skip your workout, while understandable, it can really backfire when it comes to your mental health. Skipping your workout when you feel depressed can prolong the amount of time your mood isn’t great. With consistent exercise, your body becomes more efficient at producing serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that can promote a positive mood.
S is for Supplements
What Supplements Boost Mood?
When it comes to vitamins and supplements, it can be confusing to say the least. Nature has given us so many elements that can help achieve a positive mood, it’s worth investigating what might be a great fit for you! (We can help! Give us a call!)
Some suggestions: Turmeric, Vitamin D, Fish Oil, Magnesium, and Probiotics. Read more about these five mood boosting supplements here.
Looking to get a few of these in your medicine cabinet? Here are a few of our picks:
T is for Thanks
Remembering What You’re Thankful For Can Help You Feel Happier
Taking time to be thankful (writing a thank you note, journaling what you’re grateful for, offering thanksgiving in your prayers) can reduce toxic emotions like envy and frustration. Not only can gratitude reduce negative emotions, it can reduce depression and foster happiness! Take a few minutes each day to “count your blessings.”
U is for Understanding
How Understanding Your Own Triggers Can Help You Avoid Bad Moods
Knowing how our day to day activities and encounters affect our mood plays a pivotal role in our wellbeing. One way to really take stock in this is to keep a daily journal of sorts (see above mentioned journal options). The act of the details of our happenings can even leave us feeling happier, calmer, and more in control.
A “mood journal” specifically allows you to track and understand how certain events, situations, and interactions affect you emotionally. Good and bad. By keeping track of the context of your mood changes, your ups and downs, you are able to build a clear picture of what exactly is affecting your moods and how.
This means when you’re aware of the things that negatively impact your mood, you can take steps to avoid them or change them. If they can’t be changed, the process wasn’t in vain, because you can work to take extra care of yourself in those trying situations.
In the same way, when you know what makes you feel more positive, you can start doing more of those things to boost your mood regularly.
V is for Vegetables
Which Vegetables Improve Mood Best?
All fruits and veggies are pretty much fair game when it comes to being “healthy.” In the fruit world, berries are probably the very (berry?) best when it comes to boosting mood. But with veggies, here’s who you want to be growing in your garden or picking up at the grocery store:
Radish: Researchers have discovered that radishes have compounds that increase dopamine and norepinephrine in our brains, potentially helping us to feel happier and more alert.
Avocado: Avocados contain tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids, two compounds believed to play an important role in fighting depression.
Collard Greens: Collard greens are rich in magnesium, which may help maintain healthy serotonin levels.
W is for Workout
Does a Daily Workout Make a Difference In Your Mood?
Okay, Okay, you get it by now, right? Exercise, Running, Working Out…they’re all in the same vein, we know. We just want to make sure you’re REALLY REALLY REALLY aware that physical activity is critical to your mental health and mood stability!
X is for eXpectations
Do Your Expectations Have an Impact on Your Mood?
Do the Expectations of Others Impact Your Mood?
Okay, we know “expectations” doesn’t start with an “X.” If you have a better suggestion, we are 100% open to it. But for now, let’s roll with this.
Expectations can be good! When we live up to our own expectations or someone else lives up to our expectations, we certainly feel pride, joy, happiness even! The problem lies in what happens when we don’t live up to the expectations of others, or ourselves, or when others don’t live up to OUR expectations.
That’s a mouthful, but think about it. When you’re in a great mood and call your spouse or friend and they answer and are clearly on a different emotional planet than you are, you can leave the conversation feeling frustrated or angry or even in a bad mood! Your friend did nothing wrong, but because you were in such a great mood, you unintentionally expected him/her to be in a great mood too! And when that didn’t happen, boom. Your mood was affected.
What about when you know you’ve disappointed someone? Whether you tried your best or didn’t is somewhat irrelevant, because the major downer on our mood isn’t that we didn’t give it our best effort, it’s that we let down someone (or ourselves).
Be intentional and realistic with your expectations. Give grace to those who don’t meet yours (including yourself).
Y is for Yes
How Saying Yes Affects Your Mood
Saying “no” made our list, so saying “yes” seems necessary as well. These two words are opposites, but our premise isn’t contradictory. Knowing how to build boundaries by saying no is critical to your mental health and mood. But knowing when to say yes is too!
Give yourself the freedom to say yes to the things you love, without being weighed down by work or responsibility sometimes. In visiting the places you love or making time for a good book or hobby, you say yes to things that give you life! Those things encourage a positive mood!
Z is for Zzz’s
Your Sleep Impacts Your Mood
After all that working out, you’re bound to be tired, yes? A good night’s rest has a significant impact on your mood.
You’ve experienced a bad night’s sleep before, so the way sleep can affect your mood isn’t lost on you. Did you know that even partial sleep deprivation can significantly impact your mood (negatively)?
Staying up late or getting up early to finish a project? This might feel necessary or even productive, but when you find yourself stressed, angry, sad, or mentally exhausted, know that it’s probably due to your reduced sleep!
Not only that, but our mood can affect our sleep! Anxiety and stress can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. So not enough sleep can lead to stress, which can lead to not enough sleep…never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest or a good day’s nap! Catch those zzz’s!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little list. We plan to take a deeper look at a few of these mood related topics this year! What else would you like to see?