Natural Ways to Boost Your Mood

7 Natural Ways to Boost Your Mood

Stay Happy and Healthy While Avoiding Big Pharma’s Drugs

BY: Brad Lemley

An estimated 5% of adults worldwide, and 9% of adult Americans, suffer from depression.  Both figures have marched resolutely upward over the last several decades.

But the happy news is that the condition is usually quite reversible, especially in its common mild-to-moderate form.

Step one is correctly grasping its origin.  Some of the reported increase in depression is almost certainly due to “disease mongering.”  Drug companies are pathologizing normal, everyday situational sadness to hawk expensive antidepressants.

But it does appear that some of the increase is, indeed, real.  Most true depression – that is, sadness, or hopelessness that persists weeks or months beyond a triggering circumstance, or that has no identifiable origin – is likely a classic “mismatch disease.”

The term was popularized by Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel Liberman to describe maladies spawned by misalignment between modern society and our still mostly Paleolithic bodies and minds.

Human beings did not evolve to sit alone for endless hours in dark rooms staring at blue-dominant-wavelength screens, eating processed foods, and absorbing random, nonsequitur diversion.  Yet not only do many people live this way – but many modern jobs require days spent in just this fashion.

Most of us would not choose to return to human prehistory, and it’s a bad idea anyway – predatory animals, unreliable food supplies, and infectious disease made lives brutish and short.  Our modern challenge is to marry the advantages of modern life – physical safety, abundant food, and tamed pathogens – with the health-promoting daily habits of our forebears.

Here are seven ways to do so:

  1. EXERCISE : The sedentary nature of modern life is probably the biggest single contributor to the depression epidemic.  Human bodies need to move often and in many ways: walking, running, climbing, swimming, stretching, and lifting.  Many studies show that depressed patients who stick to an exercise program improve as mush as those treated with medication.  Productive activity can probably provide even more benefit that exercise.  If you are out of shape, begin by walking at least 30 minutes daily at least five days per week.  Building a deck, hunting, gardening biking to work, and similar goal-oriented acts provide both conditioning and a feeling of accomplishment – both can help improve mood.
  2. FAST NOW AND THEN : Intermittent fasting (IF) means regularly eating less than the typical three-meals-daily regimen.  Variations are endless – skip one meal per day, or fast one day per week or month (however, hydration is crucial, so most regimes specify drinking plenty of water).  IF boosts autophagy, the body’s ability to digest and eliminate cellular debris.  Conversely, eating too much too often, as many do nowadays, stymies the body’s autophagous housecleaning and can eventually lead to accelerated aging and premature death.  An often-reported IF side benefit is elevated mood.
  3. TAKE FISH OIL AND VITAMIN D AND/OR GET THEM NATURALLY : Adequate blood levelss of omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) and vitamin D are strongly tiedto emotional health.  To get them naturally, eat plenty of fatty, cold-water fish, such as wild-caught salmon, at least twice a week, and get about half an hour of full sun on your face and arms between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.  Alternatively, every day, take up to 3 grams of quality, molecularly distilled fish oil supplement – look for one that provides both EPA and DHA in a ration of about 3-to-1 or 4-to-1  – and 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day.  There’s nothing wrong with taking both the natural and supplement routes.
  4. TRY THESE HERBS :  Human beings co-evolved with plants, and two species in particular have proven beneficial effects on mood.  St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) : Look for tablets or capsules of this European perennial standardized to 0.3% hypericin.  The usual dose is 300 mg daily.  Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) : Try 100 mg tablets or capsules containing extracts standardized to 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside.  Take one (in the morning) or two (morning and early afternoon) tablets or capsules a day.
  5. EAT LESS ADDED SUGAR AND CARBS, AND MORE HEALTHY PROTEIN AND FAT :  Sugar contributes to chronic inflammation, spikes (then drops) insulin, and suppresses a vital protein called brainderived neurotrophic factor.  All of these are tied to low mood.  If you can’t stick to organic, animal-based foods, fruits, vegetables, and nuts exclusively, at least begin the day with a couple of hard-boiled eggs with an avocado, rather than cereal.
  6. LAUGH – ESPECIALLY WITH OTHERS : Laughing in groups bonds and uplifts in a way that few human activities can match.  Laughing significantly lowers cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, an effect that continues hours after the laughter subsides.  Don’t wait for opportunities to smile and laugh – create them.  Think of the person or experience that makes you laugh the loudest or longest.  Orchestrate a repeat visit or session.  Then make it a routine.
  7. LIMIT MEDIA EXPOSURE : We moderns are choking on “data smog,” the noxious cloud of distracting, pointless information – Kardashian updates, Bieber babbles, Twitter trivialites – made possible by the Internet’s power to disseminate copious media at essentially no cost.  The result is distraction, isolation, and, ultimately, depression.  Track your digital media exposure in a given week, and cut that amount at least 25% in the following week  Use the time you free up for some of the strategies listed here. If you like the result, keep dialing down virtual-life “surfing” each week and expanding real-like, connected, human experiences.

One great advantage of following these tips is that virtually all will also lead to improved physical health.  Start slowly – incorporate a new one into your routine each week.  In a couple of months, you will find yourself in a new, much better place.