Slideshow: Boost Your Mood Today!
By: Judi Ketteler; Photography by: Peter Chou, Paul Buceta
1. Eat omega-3s
“There is abundant research showing that omega-3s are effective for maintaining mental health and reducing depression,” says neuroscientist Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. In human studies, the effect appears to be greatest from food sources such as fish (versus supplements), so put it on your dinner menu during the week.
2. Surround yourself with comforting smells
“Find a scent that makes you feel calm and happy,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, from Sarasota, Florida. Lavender has been shown to have calming effects, for example. Light a scented candle or brew some herbal tea with your favorite-smelling spice.
3. Leverage your support system
“Plan outings with your friends and family,” Gerbstadt says. Emotional bonding over meals, hikes, shopping, museums and movies is a great way to enhance mood.
4. Dance to the beat
“Find something fun to do every day for a few minutes, like listening to music,” says Melvin McInnis, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. Music with a strong beat can wake you up, lift your spirits, and motivate you to move even more.
5. Lift weights
Weight training builds your muscle mass and activates endorphins (your body’s natural pain killers), which helps to keep your moods steady, Gerbstadt says.
6. Load up on antioxidants
There is good evidence that fruits high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, improve cognitive function as well as mood, says Gómez-Pinilla. Look for ways to add the mood-boosting berries to your diet, such as in cereals, salads and oatmeal. Make this berry shake for your post workout sip.
7. Spend time with furry friends
There’s a reason that dogs and cats are used in therapy: petting them can produce a calming effect that can actually bring down people’s stress levels. If you don’t have a pet, dog-sit for a friend, head to the dog park or hang out at the pet store.
8. Act like a kid
Playing with your kids on the playground, instead of just watching them play, is not only great exercise (chin-ups on a jungle gym are no easy feat), it can also make you feel like a kid again, says Courtenay Schurman, a Seattle-based personal trainer. The freedom and silliness is bound to put you in a better mood.
9. Laugh more
“Hearty laughter has been found to rival the benefits of aerobic activity by producing feel-good hormones like serotonin and endorphins. Just the mere act of smiling can boost mood,” says certified laughter leader (CLL), Dave Grotto, RD.
10. Spice it up with turmeric
“Turmeric seems to help reduce anxiety and improve mood,” explains Gómez-Pinilla. For best results, buy turmeric, combine with (heart-healthy) oil in the skillet and sauté with vegetables or meat.