Whether you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or you’re going through a particularly challenging time in your life that’s making it hard to stay upbeat and motivated, this collection of natural mood boosters is just what you need to get yourself back on track. We’re sharing simple tips you can start implementing now to help release feel-good endorphins in your body while also making you feel good inside and out.
8 Natural Mood Boosters
1. PRIORITIZE SLEEP
We all know that lack of sleep can (and will) negatively impact our health and wellbeing, and yet we continue to wear our busy lifestyles as a badge of honour. If you’re searching for natural mood boosters, one of the first things you should do is evaluate the length and quality of your sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to issues such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood sugar, anxiety, diabetes, stroke, weight gain, and increased body fat, and it can impact your mental health as well. Lack of sleep impairs your ability to focus and concentrate, makes it harder for you to regulate your emotions, and it can weaken your immune system to boot! If you struggle to fall asleep – and stay asleep – this post about insomnia has lots of great tips and tricks to help.
2. GET ENOUGH VITAMIN D
Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common, particularly among people who live far away from the equator and have limited exposure to the sun. Having dark skin, being over the age of 50, consuming little to no fish and dairy, and being overweight also increases your risk of having a vitamin D deficiency, which can cause symptoms like fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness and pain, lowered immunity, and depression. If you need natural mood boosters to improve your energy and focus, find ways to increase your vitamin D intake. You can do this by spending more time outside, via dietary changes and supplements, by using light lamps and more. Learn more about vitamin D deficiency causes, symptoms, and remedies in this post.
3. MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE
If you’re looking for natural mood boosters, it may seem counterproductive to physically exert yourself – won’t that cause you to feel more fatigued and unmotivated? – but as it turns out, cardiovascular exercise does more than just burn fat and calories. It releases feel-good endorphins that help lift your mood, and it can also help you manage feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression and improve the quality of your sleep so you wake up feeling rested and refreshed each morning. Of course, more isn’t always better, and too much cardio can actually backfire on you. Overtraining can cause elevated cortisol levels, which can have a negative impact on your mood, sleep, and waistline. The trick is to find a happy balance. Instead of doubling up on your cardio workouts, stick to mild and moderate exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming.
4. FOCUS ON STRESS MANAGEMENT
When your body is in a state of constant stress, it remains in a state of fight-or-flight, which can cause various health problems, including anxiety and depression, headaches and digestive troubles, sleep disturbances, heart disease, cognitive impairment, and weight gain. Feeling stressed on the regular can also zap you of energy, making it a hard cycle to break out of. If this sounds like you, finding activities that help you relax is so important. Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are all great relaxation techniques, but if that’s not your thing, there are other stress management activities you can try to help you relax and lower your cortisol levels. Here area some ideas to consider:
- Coloring. Adult coloring books gained popularity a few years ago, and for good reason. Coloring relaxes the brain and is a great stress-reducing activity you can use to help keep your thoughts in the present moment. It’s extremely portable, making it a good option for lunch breaks, while traveling, when waiting in doctor’s offices, etc., and there are tons of great coloring apps you can use with your smartphone or tablet.
- Jigsaw puzzles. If coloring isn’t your thing but you like the idea of having an activity you can enjoy either independently or with your family at the end of the day to unwind, jigsaw puzzles are a great idea to consider (this ‘Things I Ate as a Kid’ puzzle is a great one!). My mom and sister were always working on a puzzle when I was growing up, and once the puzzle mat was invented, it made it easy to store during the day.
- Journaling. For those who enjoy writing, journaling is another great way to relax. Writing in a journal provides a great outlet, helps promote a sense of calm, provides perspective, and can help identify triggers and patterns as well as provide solutions. It also forces you to focus only on the topic you are writing about, which is a great way to stay centered and in the moment. We’ve written a whole post about journaling for emotional well-being, including our favorite guided journals and journal prompts, which you can read HERE.
- Relax in the tub. Whenever I ask my friends what their favorite self-care rituals are, the most common answer I get is a hot bubble bath with candles after a difficult day. If you’re looking for ways to relax and reduce your stress that are easy to fit into your schedule, this is a great one to try!
5. MAKE SMALL DIETARY CHANGES
While dietary changes may be the last thing you want to think about when your mood, energy, and motivation are down, the foods you ingest really do have an impact on both your physical and mental health. Eating a balanced diet is one of the easiest natural mood boosters available to you, and you will be amazed at how much a few simple changes can make you feel. Remember that this is a marathon and not a race, so don’t try to completely overhaul your diet at one go. The trick is to make small changes slowly so you sustain them long-term. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Drink more water. From keeping us hydrated so we feel energized, to flushing out toxins and improving our complexion, to reducing belly bloat and boosting our immune systems, drinking enough water throughout the day is so important.
- Cut back on caffeine. If you’re not sleeping enough at night, you’re probably relying on your daily cup of jo more than ever to help you get through the day, but did you know you’re likely just perpetuating the problem? Try to stick with one cup of coffee in the morning only, and if you simply must have a second or third cup, make sure to drink it before noon so it doesn’t negatively impact your sleep.
- Limit alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can have a negative impact on your mood once the initial effects wear off. Couple that with normal, everyday stressors and the fact that alcohol interferes with our ability to get a good night of sleep, and it’s no surprise that alcohol can actually make you feel worse instead of better. Save it for special occasions if you can.
- Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. When we eat sugar, opioids and dopamine are released, which make us feel really good and crave it even more. It triggers the pleasure center of our brains, as well as the reward center, which makes it a difficult addiction to crack. But sugar consumption can lead to issues like weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and it can also wreak havoc on your hormones, making you feel tired and sluggish. Beware of ingredients like sucrose, fructose, and pretty much any other words with ‘–ose’ at the end as they contain sugar. Use natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup instead.
6. EAT FOODS HIGH IN TRYPTOPHAN
Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s important for the production of serotonin, which is a naturally occurring chemical that’s responsible for regulating mood, digestion, sleep and more. Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, carrying signals between nerve cells (called neurons) throughout the body. In the brain, serotonin helps with mood regulation and memory, and it also contributes to healthy digestion in the gut. Many of the natural mood boosters already discussed in this post can help increase your serotonin levels, and adding foods high in tryptophan can also help. Tryptophan is commonly found in foods that contain protein, such as salmon, poultry, eggs, spinach, seeds, nuts, milk products, and soy products.
Laughter truly is the best medicine, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It’s good for your health and improves your immune system and mood. Laughing also relieves your stress response, reduces tension by relaxing your muscles, and releases feel good endorphins. If you’re looking for natural mood boosters, hang out with people who make you laugh, watch a funny TV show or movie, listen to a funny podcast, watch funny clips on YouTube…you get the idea!
8. STAY GRATEFUL
People who practice gratitude tend to be happier and have higher self-esteem. They sleep better, have stronger relationships with the people they love, and spend less time dwelling about negative things, making them better able to handle stress. This gives their mood a good boost, keeping them motivated and energized even when life is challenging.
If you’re looking for natural mood boosters, set aside a few minutes each morning to write down 3 things you’re grateful for to ensure your day starts out on a positive note. Remember that these don’t need to be BIG things. A warm cup of coffee, a good book, a fun date with your significant other, a smooth morning with your kids, and a funny meme are all examples of little things that can add a huge amount of joy to your life. The trick is to notice and acknowledge them as this trains your brain to focus on the good instead of the bad.
I hope this collection of natural mood boosters helps you gain perspective on the things in your life that may be contributing to any negative feelings you may be having, while also equipping you with strategies to rest and reset so you can be your best self every single day!