Strategies to help you manage and improve your mood
Even though depression is becoming increasingly common, it’s still poorly understood. It can be very intense and feel unconquerable when you’re suffering from it. While being completely invisible to the outside world. Managing your mood is not easy but there are some strategies that you can apply to manage and improve your mood when you’re ready to try them.
You’re not alone so don’t be reluctant to ask for the support of the people around you who care about you.
According to the World Health Organisation more than 300 million people worldwide are now living with depression. Chances are that someone in your support network will have experienced it at some stage. They’ll be able to relate to what you’re going through and offer some guidance and support.
Whether it’s a family member, friend, therapist, doctor, coach, or an online support network. Speak to the one that you’re most comfortable with and let them help you.
In severe cases, just getting out of bed can seem like climbing a mountain. Exercise however, plays a crucial role in your mental health so getting moving could help lift your mood.
Multiple studies have been carried out over the years which have shown exercise can help manage and improve your mood by:
- boosting your endorphins and giving you a natural high
- boosting serotonin levels which plays a key role in managing your mood
- reducing stress
- reducing inflammation
- giving you joy and purpose
To function correctly, your brain needs enough energy and the right nutrients. So it’s important that your diet is good enough to support healthy brain function.
There are a couple of things you can do to ensure this:
- Promote gut health / the majority of our serotonin is produced in the gut, not the brain. A healthy gut is critical for absorbing nutrients for the brain and other parts of your body.
- Get plenty of Vitamin D / Vitamin D is required for regular brain function and development. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with depression and other mood disorders
- Get your Omega 3’s / they provide the building blocks for brain development and proper function. They’re also suspected to prevent many diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s
- Get your amino acids / the building blocks for serotonin
All of the above can be supplemented but the best way to get them is through unprocessed whole foods and sunshine.
It’s also important to note things that may cause depression and therefore should be avoided or limited:
- Alcohol / can have a very temporary positive impact on our mood but alcohol is a depressant. This means it can disrupt your brain’s chemical balance and lower your serotonin levels
- Caffeine / can cause anxiety and impact your sleep
- Sugar / after an initial high it can make you crash and feel worse both physically and emotionally. Also, it is bad for your gut health
- Processed foods / preservatives used in processed foods can be harmful so it’s best to avoid them
How do I make a change?
Aim for small changes
When it comes to all of these things, getting started can be extremely daunting. Therefore, it’s best to adopt a strategy for change in the smallest increments possible.
If you’re targeting exercise as a means to manage and improve your mood for example, instead of aiming for a 30 min run on day 1, try walking to the end of the road and back.
If it’s nutrition you’re targeting, don’t try to completely overhaul your diet at once because that will set you up for failure. Instead, aim for one habit at a time, like including a serving of leafy greens with your dinner in Week 1. Then, incrementally build on this each week. Remembering to celebrate each achievement along the way.
Target things that you love doing
If you used to love cycling but haven’t done it in a while, try and build it into your exercise routine.
Sunshine, fresh air, nature, and green spaces are all things that make us feel good. Try to expose yourself to them as often as possible.
Be consistent but also patient
Change may not happen overnight but it will come if you’re consistent with these good practices. Never beat yourself up over a temporary slip or missed workout, because it’s not about achieving perfection, it’s about making yourself feel good.
Depression and poor mental health can be crippling but when you’re ready to try them, there are things that can be done to help you lift your mood.
Most importantly know that you’re not alone in your battle and get the support you need. Then incrementally build in a healthy exercise routine around the outdoors and things you love, and a healthy diet to support it. Knowing that with consistency and patience, things can get a whole lot better.
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