“How are you feeling?” It’s a question we’re asked almost every day, and according to the statistics, many of us are not feeling so well. In the United States more than 50% of Americans will need support for their mental health at some point in their lifetime.1, 2 The good news is that there are many lifestyle factors we can incorporate in our daily lives to support our mood:
1. Reduce and manage stress. Stress is impossible to completely remove from our lives, but we can manage it by setting firm boundaries, making time for your needs, asking for help where you need it and engaging in rituals such as journaling, meditation and breathing techniques.
2. Exercise and movement. Moving your body has many mood enhancing benefits including reduced stress hormones, increased endorphins and improved sleep and digestion.3 You don’t have to only go to a gym — dancing, walking and playing with your kids all count too. The key to consistent movement is making sure you enjoy it.
3. Ensure adequate sleep. Sleep is truly the foundation of health because it’s during sleep that our body clears out the debris, rebuilds and heals. A 2021 study found a link between sleep and mood through the glymphatic system which is highly active during sleep and clears metabolic waste out of the brain through fluid exchange.4
4. Exposure to sunlight and nature. Daily sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythms which supports sleep and boosts mood by increasing serotonin. It’s also a source of vitamin D. Getting out into nature further reinforces that serotonin boost.5‡
5. Connection and community. Connection is a fundamental human need and in our technological age we’re getting much less. Having a supportive community where you feel like you belong can reduce the incidence of anxiety and depression.6 Engage in recreational sports, volunteering and other group activities to enhance your mood.
6. Consume a healthy diet. A diet focused on whole foods that’s lower in sugar, and higher in protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates provides the necessary amino acids, fats and nutrients that support the creation of mood supporting hormones and neurotransmitters.
7. Supplement as needed. Sometimes we need extra support, and this is where supplements can play a significant role in helping the body obtain the necessary nutrients to support mood. Taking a synergistic approach to supplementing for mood tends to yield the best results since there are many contributing factors. Below are some potential options:
- Multivitamin: A high quality multivitamin delivers many of the nutrients needed to support neurotransmitter synthesis, including zinc and B vitamins.‡
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are called essential fatty acids because your body needs them but can’t produce them. In observational and epidemiological studies, higher plasma levels of EPA have been associated with healthy mood. 7, 8‡
- Magnesium: Magnesium has many systemic benefits. In a cross-sectional study involving 210 elderly individuals, optimal magnesium intake was associated with positive mood.9‡
- Probiotics: Gut health plays an important role in mental health. Probiotics encourage healthy gut bacterial ecology and intestinal integrity.10, 11‡.
- Curcumin: The antioxidant and immune-modulating properties of curcumin have been implicated in mood, relaxation and neuronal health.12, 13
- B Vitamins: Folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 promote methylation, nerve support and cellular energy production. Folate plays important roles in emotional well-being.‡
- Rhodiola: Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that has been used for hundreds of years to help lessen mental and physical stress.16, 17, 18‡
- L–theanine: L-theanine is the active component of green tea that promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness.19‡
Supporting mood and stress resilience is critical as a foundation for health. It is essential that clinicians assess stress levels as part of the bigger picture so that appropriate measures can be taken.
- Kessler RC, et al. World Psych. 2007;6(3):168-176.
- Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. 2016.
- Cooney, GM, Dwan K, Mead G. JAMA. 2014 Jun 18;311(23):2432-3
- Yan T, et al. Front Psychiatry. 2021; 12: 658340.
- Bum-Jin Park, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun; 17(12): 4348.
- Schaefer S, et al. PLoS One. 2013; 8(11): e80329.
- Féart C, et. al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1156-62.
- Samieri C, et. al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):714-21.
- Barragán-Rodríguez L, et al. Magnes Res. 2008 Dec;21(4):218-23.
- Arseneault-Bréard J, et al. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jun;107(12):1793-9.
- Rao AV, et al. Gut Patho. 2009 Mar 19;1(1):6.
- Braidy N, et al. FEBS J. 2010 Jan;277(2):368-82.
- Bhutani MK, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009 Mar;92(1):39-43.
- Menon V, et al. Indian J Psychol Med. 2020 Jan-Feb; 42(1): 11–21.
- Young L, et al. Nutrients. 2019 Sep; 11(9): 2232.
- Spasov AA, et al. Phytomedicine. 2000 Apr;7(2):85-9.
- Maslova LV, et al. Eksp Klin Farmakol.1994 Nov-Dec;57(6):61-3.
- Stojcheva E, et al. Molecules. 2022 Jun; 27(12): 3902.
- Juneja LR, et al. Trends in Food Science & Technology.1999. 10; 199-204.