Q: This time of year I often feel sad and out of sorts. Are there any natural remedies that can help me feel better?
A: As winter comes to a close, we are all ready for spring. Awaiting the seasonal shift can sometimes ignite seasonal moods that can make us feel a bit blue. Here are some ways that you can enhance your natural state and boost your mood.
It’s important to try to keep your blood sugar stable. Emotional highs and lows can be initiated from a diet high in simple sugars that elevates our mood, only to end in a low state. Don’t go for 10 hours and realize you are starving and eat three meals in one sitting. If your blood sugar is stable, mentally you will feel more stable. If certain foods make you feel uncomfortable because they lead to bloating, gas, or indigestion, avoid them. Leafy green vegetables are particularly filled with nutrients that can impact our mood—potassium, magnesium, and a host of trace minerals. These vitamins and minerals provide additional energy that sustains us rather than carb-heavy foods that can trigger the blood-sugar blues.
Almost anything will do! Just get out there! As long as you are moving, you are going to lift your spirits. You don’t have to run a marathon in order to exercise and take good care of your body. If you do something every day, like a 20-minute walk, that will impact your mood more than you can imagine. You may also want to incorporate interval training into your routine. Exert yourself intensely for 30 seconds and rest for a minute. For example, run or bicycle hard for 30 seconds and then walk for a minute and do it again. Do this over the course of 25 minutes and you will notice a change in your muscles as well as your mind.
The effects of meditation can be profound. Studies have revealed that meditators often experience reduced stress and deeper resilience. Time is often cited as a barrier to regular practice, but even just a few minutes a day can have an impact. A great way to start is to just focus on the breath. Sit in a comfortable spot with the spine straight. Gently close your eyes and place one hand on the heart and one on your belly. Observe your inhales and exhales as you breathe naturally.
When stressed, we tend not to sleep as well. Studies have found that sleep can be dramatically altered when we are stressed and vice versa. It is incredibly important to get a good night’s sleep so be sure and carve out the time to unwind and allow yourself the opportunity for self-care. Try a warm bath before bed, a bit of lavender aromatherapy, or quiet time for reading with no blue screens (phones, iPads, TVs, etc.) Whatever you do, you must take care of you. By practicing this awareness, you will build your sense of self and that will naturally bolster your mood.
Of course, as always when it comes to your health, please consult with a professional. If you are experiencing what you think could be mood disorder, you can talk to a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist.