5 Foods to Make You Feel Happier

5 Foods To Make You Feel Happier

If you’re struggling with low mood and feeling unhappy, it might be time to look at your diet.

What you eat can have a big impact on your mood, in much the same way that it affects your physical health.

Some foods can have a negative effect on your mood and wellbeing in general but on the plus side, there are also lots of foods that are known to boost mood and help you to feel that little bit better about life.

Here are 5 foods that can give you a natural mood boost:

Dark Leafy Greens

red-swiss-chard-2392728_640

Dark leafy greens in general are a great way to boost your folate levels. One study in particular has shown a strong link between depression and low folate levels so this is a really important nutrient when it comes to mental wellbeing.

Some of the dark leafy greens you can add into your diet include kale, broccoli, swiss chard and cabbage (the dark green kind).

Lentils

lentils can boost your mood and protect against depression

Lentils are another good source of folate and one cup can give you up to 90% of your recommended daily allowance of folic acid in particular.

Lentils have another important role to play for boosting your mood as they contain L-tyrosine, an amino acid that is used by the brain to make neurotransmitters (including dopamine). Studies have shown some promising results in using L-tyrosine to reduce depression.

Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds contain zinc and are a natural mood booster

Zinc is one of the nutrients that can be lacking in many people’s diets and a deficiency can make you more likely to experience low moods and even major depression.

Pumpkin seeds have another secret weapon for mood though. They also contain L-trytophan, which is a natural mood booster and can help with serotonin synthesis.

Get snacking on handfuls of pumpkin seeds to combat low mood!

Eggs

eggs help the body to produce serotonin and boost mood

Eggs are a great source of nutrition in general but they’re the perfect choice for boosting your mood too.

Amongst other things, they contain essential fatty acids that help your body to produce more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is closely linked to mood.

If you have low serotonin levels, you’re more likely to suffer from anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Dark Chocolate

dark chocolate with cocoa can make you feel calmer

If you always want to reach for some chocolate when you’re feeling down, here’s some good news! One study showed that dark chocolate can help you to feel calmer and more contented.

There is a catch though – to get these benefits you need to be eating dark chocolate that contains a good amount of cocoa.

The flavanoids in cacao are the key factor and these aren’t present in chocolate that doesn’t have much (or any) cocoa.

Unfortunately this means that milk and white chocolate won’t boost your mood in the same way!

If you’re not already eating these kind of foods on a regular basis, try adding them into your diet and see if they can help you to feel a bit happier!

 

What Does It Mean to Live in the Moment?

What Does It Mean to Live in the Moment_

Being “in the moment” is a big part of mindfulness and it’s been shown in studies to be really effective in helping us to feel happier.

A big study into wellbeing found that daydreaming, thinking ahead and going off track with our thoughts in general are a lot more likely to make us feel miserable.

Participants were asked to log in and say what they were doing at that particular moment, how happy they were and whether they were thinking about that activity.  In almost half of cases, their thoughts were elsewhere and this seemed to be directly linked to their mood.

This led researchers to claim a link between not being “in the moment” and feeling unhappy, even if this tangent includes positive thoughts about something that we like or enjoy.  They believe that the distraction is what was making a lot of the study participants less happy, rather than their emotions being the cause of their wandering mind.

The Importance of Being “In the Moment”

There’s a lot to be said about the wellbeing benefits of being able to stay “in the moment” with our thinking but it’s not always that easy to actually make this happen for any great length of time.

Our minds are very good at veering off on tangents, sometimes to the past or the future. This can work against us in some cases and encourage thoughts about things that may happen further down the line (but often never do!).

Most of our negative thoughts tend to involve dwelling on things that have happened in the past or worrying about what could happen in the future. Living more “in the moment” takes this away and forces us to focus on the here and now, which is often a lot less stress inducing.

A busy, active mind is only part of the problem though. Add in the fact that most of us also have incredibly hectic lives (and increasingly blurred lines between home and work in many cases) and it’s not hard to see why few of us spend much time “in the moment”.  The end result? Our busy minds take control of us.

You can change this through mindfulness, which is all about spending time in the present. This helps to distance yourself from your thoughts and take a step back from them.

How to Be “In the Moment”

Mindfulness doesn’t involve fighting against your thoughts. The key thing is to acknowledge your thoughts and let them wash over you. You don’t need to push away any of your thoughts or even pass any judgement on them at all. You just want to observe them.

Savour the Moment

Mindfulness can be practiced in lots of different scenarios but you may want to start off with something that you enjoy to get into the habit and experience the benefits.

Next time you’re eating a food or enjoy or doing an activity you really enjoy, take the time to really focus on what you’re doing and the way it makes you feel. For food, concentrate on taste and texture, for example.

Most of the time, we rush through everyday things including eating and drinking but they’re a great opportunity to spend some time “in the moment”.

Focus on Something Else

One mistake that people often make when trying to be more mindful is to overthink things.

Focusing your attention on outside things can help to distract yourself from the ‘talk’ that is happening in your mind.

It can also be a good way to make it easier for you to avoid attaching any kind of label to thoughts that come into your mind and judging them. This way, the thought come and go in your mind without it gaining the same significance compared to non mindful thinking.

Accepting Feelings and Emotions

A lot of the time, we’re actively trying to fight against emotions, especially negatives ones such as stress, anxiety, sadness and pain. Rather than making things better, this usually only makes us feel worse.

Being “in the moment” with your emotions means accepting that they may be out of your control. You’re not admitting defeat and you still have complete control of how you manage the emotion(s). The key thing is not to let it overwhelm you or to focus your attention on it. Acknowledge it by all means but then try to turn your attention to something else.

6 Ways to Feel Calmer

 

6 Ways to Feel Calmer

When you’re stressed, it can be very hard to move away from this feeling and get yourself into a more relaxed place.

There are a few things you can do to boost your mood and reduce your stress levels so that you feel calmer and less overwhelmed.

Here are 6 tips to destress and get yourself into a calmer frame of mind!

Exercise

Exercise releases “feel good” endorphins, which are strongly linked to mood.

Even just getting out and about for a gentle walk can help you to feel calmer. This is also a great opportunity to engage in a spot of mindful thinking – another way to deal with stress.

Listen to Music

When one of your favourite songs comes on the radio, chances are it makes you smile and perhaps you even feel compelled to sing along to it?

Music can have a big effect on how we feel and you probably already know that certain songs make you feel happier, for example.

Studies have shown that listening to music encourages your brain to release feel good dopamine so no wonder it lifts your mood when you hear music that you enjoy listening to!

Having a playlist that is full of songs that are guaranteed to make you feel happier can be a great option to turn to when you’re feeling stressed.

Breathing Exercises

When you feel stressed, it will often have an effect on how you breathe. For example, it’s common to find yourself hyperventilating (taking shallow breaths) rather than deeper breaths. This can become second nature and feel totally normal if you’re stressed a lot of the time, and you may not even be aware that this is the pattern you’ve fallen into.

Focusing on your breathing can be a quick and easy way to feel calmer. Taking a few deep breaths can retrain your breathing as it helps you to become aware of hyperventilation.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be a very effective way to de-stress and relieve tension in the muscles. It involves tensing different muscle groups and then relaxing them, which helps to release any stress that is being held in them.

Going Into Your “Happy Place”

Visualising a calming, relaxing place that makes you feel happy and less stressed can be instantly calming. Plus it helps to focus your mind and thoughts away from the source of your stress.

You may choose to think about a sun kissed beach and imagine the sound of the waves and the feel of the sand under your feet, for example. The images you conjure up can be literally anything as long as they have the effect of calming you and refocusing your mind.

Head to a Green Space

If you live in an urban area that has at least a few green spaces, you might want to head to one of these when you next need to de-stress.

Studies have shown that this is great for improving your mental health and well being, and that it can have a longer lasting effect than you might think.