The Best Natural Mood Enhancers
One out of every six Americans are taking antidepressants. That is a shockingly sad statistic. Even worse, millions of others are probably considering taking them to relieve their pain. Many people are not even sure why they feel sad or anxious. They just are, and they just want to feel better.
And, for many reasons, doctors are too quick to whip out the prescription pad.
The good news: there are many natural mood enhancers that are available to everyone. And they can be enormously effective – without the well-documented side effects of prescription medications.
If you are suffering from mild depression, mood swings, anger or anxiety, you owe it to yourself to try any and all of these methods before you jump down the rabbit hole of pharmaceutical drugs.
The first thing to remember is that your feelings and moods are very often slight chemical imbalances that you very possibly can fix on your own. Negative emotions are your body’s way of telling you that you need to change things up.
Don’t Blame Yourself – It’s Complicated
Don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t feel peachy. The human body is the most intricate creation in the universe. It’s utterly amazing, but it doesn’t always run perfectly.
You have billions of cells and trillions of microorganisms in your body – all working to keep you vital and healthy. You can certainly expect to have imbalances. And even a tiny glitch can throw you out of whack.
- Poor Sleep
- Poor Diet
- Self blame
- Out of balance gut bacteria
- Hormonal Changes
- Lack of Sunshine
All these things can cause long-term changes in your body chemistry – for the worse.
The point is – With all this going on inside and outside your mind and body, it’s not hard to understand that your mood is not perfect. However….
You can have the POWER to stabilize your mood – naturally
The fact is that our feelings – and ultimately our personalities – are based on billions of tiny electrochemical reactions.
If there is a little imbalance somewhere, we feel it emotionally.
For most people, the imbalance is a low level of serotonin.
A lack of serotonin is associated with emotional problems – especially depression and anxiety.
Serotonin is the “Happiness Molecule“. It is a neurotransmitter, and it enables the neurons in your brain to communicate efficiently. It’s the stuff that fires up your brain.
And when your brain fires up properly, you feel happy.
Is it any wonder that a low level of serotonin can cause you to feel out of sorts? You are lacking the catalyst that sparks positive emotional reactions and enjoyment.
It is also the precursor to melatonin. So if your levels are low, it will effect your sleep and make everything even worse – a negative loop.
You have many hormones in your body that are constantly changing levels in order to meet your needs throughout the day – estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, adrenaline – and dozens more. They compete with one another according to the stress and activities you are going through. Cortisol is the main culprit for anxiety. It is the “fight or flight” hormone. And in our modern life it is usually activated by non-life-threatening events. It’s essential to get a reasonable hormonal balance in order to have positive, stable moods.
We are just beginning to understand the enormous role that our intestinal flora play in our health and well being. You have 100 TRILLION microorganisms inside our body. That’s 10 times the number of your own cells.
Researchers are finding out that they effect almost every aspect of our biology – immunity, stamina, digestion, metabolism. They even communicate with our brains and change our emotions. It’s actually a bit startling.
But the upshot is that you must maintain a robust and diverse microbiome if you want to have emotional health.
So with these possible causes in mind, let’s try to improve your body chemistry and your mood in a more holistic way with these 15 natural mood enhancers. Each one addresses one or more possible causes of emotional instability.
Remember – when you try any of these, you are taking positive action and you should allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment. Make an earnest effort to apply each one to your life. Be reflective and make note of ANY improvements you might feel. That will start a positive feedback loop that can change your life.
15 Natural Mood Enhancers
Regular exercise can boost mood short term and long term. Just think about how good you feel when you finish a workout. There is an overall feeling of wellness and accomplishment. You should take a least 5 minutes after every workout to just soak in that feeling. It helps condition you body to look forward to working out.
Also, Try to make a goal for each workout. That stimulates the “reward” chemical dopamine, improving motivation and mood. Any exercise is good, but the best are ones that really rev up the heart rate – like interval training. Even if you are not feeling it, FORCE yourself to at least take a walk around the block. You will feel better. Starting is always the hardest part.
You’ve read it a millions times – you HAVE to get good sleep. Most of the serotonin in your body converts to melatonin when you sleep. Its levels are lowest when you’re in REM sleep – providing deep, vivid dreaming.
When you wake, serotonin levels start to rise throughout the day. Disrupting this cycle with poor sleep will cause your serotonin levels to stay low all day and you will feel sleepy and sad. Then you will have less melatonin at night. It is a terrible downward spiral/cycle that has to be broken. Luckily, most of the 14 natural mood enhancers in this list will help you sleep better. So read on…
What we eat has a bigger impact on your emotions than you might think. Naturally, avoid sugary carbs that cause insulin spikes and guilt. Complex carbs, dark chocolate, green tea, cold water fish and fermented foods increase serotonin and are some of the foods that boost your mood. Make sure you get plenty of folate by eating lentils, hummus, leafy greens and Papaya.
Yes, yoga is exercise, but it is more like moving meditation. It combines the body and mind in a way that actually changes brain wave patterns and hormone levels. Its popularity is evidence that it makes people feel good.
Human touch is the most powerful thing on earth. Getting a massage can immediately increase serotonin levels by up to 17%. Get regular massages. Don’t chat with the therapist and try not to fall asleep. Use relaxed concentration to amplify the benefits.
Our intestinal flora are so important to our overall health that research has shown they even effect our mood and personality. Most of the serotonin in our bodies resides in our gut. You must maintain a healthy microbiome. Try to eat some raw food with every meal – preferably beforehand. Eat yogurt, fermented foods and prebiotic fiber as much as possible. And take probiotic supplements everyday.
Gardening, Hiking, Camping
We have lost touch with the earth – literally. Getting a little dirty and coming in contact with the soil is one of the most natural mood enhancers of all. It increases the diversity of the microbes in our bodies and has a positive effect on serotonin, mood and overall health.
You can change your body chemistry with your own thoughts – for better or worse. You can increase your serotonin by having a brighter view of the world. Then the serotonin makes you feel even better. It is an upward spiral – get on it! Try to stop complaining and work on your attitude all day, everyday.
Here is another one of the most natural mood enhancers. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that occurs in people who live in place that are overcast or in northern latitudes in winter months. Make sure you get as much natural light as you can – at least 15 minutes every day – or, if that’s not possible, use a light therapy lamp or move to Florida 🙂
An extremely powerful natural mood enhancer is meditation. Tibetan monks, who are skilled in meditating, can be happy by force of will. They PHYSICALLY change their brains to experience more happiness. They have higher serotonin levels and more serotonin receptors. And the “pleasure centers” of their brains are measurably larger than the average person. Take your time to learn to meditate. Trying to quiet your inner voice can be frustrating, but be patient and really commit to it. It is a skill like anything else. It can profoundly change your life.
If you are having trouble meditating, a good intermediate step is guided meditation/hypnosis recordings. There are apps and courses available ranging from free to hundreds of dollars. They work. Find some that you like and use them on a regular basis. Make them part of you daily schedule. You will be amazed at how you feel. Alternatively, you can hire a licensed hypnotherapist.
Here is an easy one. Himalayan salt lamps are inexpensive, beautiful and they give off negative ions (that’s a good thing). They purify and change the air that we breath. That improves every thing from asthma and skin problems to serotonin levels. There’s real science to back this up. Get one in your bedroom as soon as possible.
Good boy indeed! A recent study found that petting a dog increases the “happiness chemicals” in your body immediately. Unconditional love from a pet is a powerful force. Also, people who have pets or work with animals have a more diverse and healthy bacterial profile and better immunity in general.
People with more friends are happier. And happier people have more friends. Get it? Another positive feedback loop. People with a healthy social life also maintain their brain function better than loners. If you tend to be shy, this can be a bit difficult, but being social is like anything else – it get easier the more you do it.
Sometimes just a few supplements can make a huge difference. There are many natural mood supplements that help greatly with depression and anxiety. There are quite often vitamin or mineral deficiencies that are associated with emotional issues.
One of the first things you should do is make sure your nutrition is good and rounded out by supplements. B vitamins are important. Be aware that Vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies are rampant in the US and can cause emotional and sleep disorders. You can get a blood test to check your levels.
Folate, iron and chromium picolinate also can have a bid impact on your emotional health.
There are many herbal mood supplements, such as passion flower, valerian root, lavender and ashwagandha to name a few, that many people use with great success.
Natural Mood Enhancers vs Prescription Medication
Anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs can have many undesired side effects. They often dull all emotions and have lingering negative consequences when stopped.
For some people with serious, chronic depression, or a family history of mental illness, it’s probably the right decision to make.
But if you are having emotional issues and mood swings that are effecting your quality of your everyday life, you owe it to yourself to try of all the natural mood enhancers you can. For the majority of people, tremendous relief (happiness) can be found without prescription medication.
The important thing is to take action (even if you don’t feel like it). You have to gather up your will power and make a decision and truly commit to your emotional well being.
The easiest natural mood enhancers to start with are supplements and food. That should make you feel better so you have motivation to go further and get those moods under control. Then you will be able to move on to things like exercise and mediation.
Also, remember that happiness is not a goal per se. It is a state of being. Don’t strive for it. It is a result or outcome of your lifestyle and choices. Your body uses emotions to guide you along. Happiness is an indication that you are on the right path. Follow that guide.
The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The contents of this website are not medical advice and are intended for general knowledge and informational purposes only. Probiotics support many facets of overall health when taken regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.