Have you been suffering from mild anxiety and/or depression but don’t want to take medication to control it because of their side effects. If you are interested in boosting your mood without medication these diet and lifestyle approaches may really help!
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Might seem like a no-brainer, but ensuring adequate intake of calories, protein, carbs, fat, vitamins and minerals is crucial for brain health. Prioritize whole foods at mealtimes including meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Work with your doctor or dietitian to identify gaps in your current diet.
- Exercise appropriately. It’s well-known that exercise helps to improve brain function and boost mood. If you are new to exercise, aim for 30 minutes/day of physical activity and find something you enjoy. Getting out in nature to get your exercise is an added bonus and helps reduce stress.
- Sleep, sleep, sleep. Poor sleep is significantly associated with depression and anxiety. Making seven to nine hours of sleep a priority will go a long ways to support your overall health. If you are having trouble sleeping see your doctor for natural ways to improve it such as through relaxation techniques, supplements or other.
- Avoid inflammatory foods. Otherwise known as “junk” foods, these foods that contain added sugar, excessive omega-6 fats (like vegetable oils), refined grains, chemicals, and preservatives are common in packaged products can derail your energy and mood. Minimize or completely avoid these ingredients and still with a plant-based diet with little to no additives. Cooking from scratch as much as possible is the best way to avoid these inflammatory ingredients.
- Get enough natural light. If you work in an office building all day under artificial lighting and rarely get outside in the sunshine, this could be playing a big role in your mental health! Get outside as often as possible and minimize light exposure after dark. Backlit electronics right before bed can interrupt sleep and your mood. Yup, that includes your smart phone!
- Support your gut with probiotics! Eating fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sour poi, sauerkraut, kefir, etc. will help support your digestive health. Pairing these ferments with prebiotic, fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables and starchy root veggies will take it to the next level. Work with your practitioner if you need help balancing your gut health.
- Manage stress. Using daily stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, or mindfulness help to retrain your brain to respond more effectively to stress. Try deep breathing to help deactivate the “fight or flight” response.
- Play and prioritize your social life. Just like children, adults need unstructured time for play and enjoyment. Getting into a social club, listening to music, joining a sports team, or going to the beach with friends are all ways to relax and fill up on Vitamin P (a.k.a. vitamin PLEASURE).
- Consider aromatherapy. Certain smells, such as those found in certain essential oils, can stimulate parts of the brain connected to smell in the limbic system. The limbic system, in turn can influence our endocrine and autonomic nervous system which are linked to mood and feelings of well-being. Learn more at our next essential oils workshop on March 25th.
- Avoid toxins. Mold, bacteria, heavy metals, and chemicals in cleaning and cosmetic products expose us to toxins which can disrupt cognitive function. If you are interested in learning more about how to make your own household cleaners that are non-toxic, please sign up for our workshop on March 25th.
If you cannot do everything on this list at once, choose 1-2 that you can easily incorporate in the next few weeks. Making lifestyle changes are easier when we take them slowly in “bite size” increments.
If you need further support with diet or lifestyle, comes see Beth and Dr. Gesik for more ideas and information tailored to your personal health journey! They provide customized programs for maximizing your health and Beth teaches monthly workshops to help you get creative with your health goals.