Living in Boulder, Colorado, I appreciate all the amazing natural amenities that this area possesses. There are so many natural mood boosters that this state has to offer. That’s why it is the ideal location for the Amate Institute Boulder, providing the perfect combination of optimization for the mind, body and spirit. However, anybody can take advantage of these mood boosters, even if you don’t happen to live in the mountains. One of the easiest for boosting the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin is sunshine. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that’s needed for positive mood.
Serotonin is the molecule of will power, of delaying gratification and feeling good. A decrease in serotonin activity can lead to an inability to create and act on well-formed plans. That can mean having difficulty finishing things, or feeling a little down or getting annoyed easily, or being unable to control your impulses.
There are a number of mechanisms that can lead to less serotonin activity:
-your brain is making less
-there are fewer serotonin receptors in your brain
-receptors are not grabbing on to the serotonin well
-the serotonin is broken down too soon
-serotonin released out onto synapse is pulled up too quickly back into the neuron
Most antidepressant medications work by blocking serotonin-sucking proteins (i.e. the serotonin transporter) thereby increasing the amount of serotonin that is available at the synapse to act on receptors.
Fortunately there are many easy and fun ways to increase serotonin production that come without the side-effects of drugs:
Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that’s needed for positive mood. Serotonin production is stimulated in the brain through sunlight through the top of the head and the eyes, so making sure you are outside for an hour a day is a cheap, easy and fun way to boost your mood. Make sure you take your glasses and hat off for 15 minutes.
The forest and the earth itself provide additional ways to easily regulate your systems. In Japan “forest bathing,” simply sitting quietly among trees, is even prescribed by doctors and covered by health insurance. Forest bathing has been found to have many mood-boosting benefits.
Here is a link for more information on forest bathing: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html
“Earthing,” which is simply placing your bare feet on the ground where there is some wetness for conduction, can regulate your entire system and lead to health and well-being. Initially if a person has not had any contact with the earth, it will take about an hour and a half to regulate the entire body, but after this you only need 15 minutes a day for maintenance. For those that are germaphobes, there are sheets that perform the same function available for purchase.
Here is a link to some research on the benefits of earthing: http://www.chopra.com/articles/grounding-the-human-body-the-healing-benefits-of-earthing#sm.0000liwy06npif3xw5v1m5vc9bomv
Exercise is also an excellent mood-booster. Walking, running and hiking are all activities that can be easily done by most and don’t require a lot of special equipment. An hour of exercise each day is ideal. Most people don’t get nearly this amount. I get about 50 minutes on most days and about 20 minutes of that is cardio, so I can still boost what I do to get the most benefit. Exercise can be overdone and can become an addiction in itself, so moderation is the key. Walking in the neighborhood for one hour or in the forest are both great ways to meet this requirement and can be combined with the other ideas presented above.
Here is more information on the benefits of exercise: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm
Your posture is another area where you can make simple adjustments that make a big difference. Standing up straight and holding your head up actually provides a neurotransmitter boost to your brain. So check your posture often and make sure you are not walking around with your head hanging down staring at your phone! Also as you walk around try slowly looking in one direction and then the other. As a hunter/gatherer you were always scanning your environment for prey and danger, and your neck will love the mobility of doing this exercise. Take a lot of stretch breaks when you are at your computer and do stretches in the morning and at night. Just look at your cat or dog, they are both constantly stretching! Stretching and observing your posture will also help you avoid or diminish chronic pain, a big time mood sinker.
Here is a link on research on good posture: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201701/good-posture-may-ease-symptoms-depression
Drinking enough water is also vital to your well being, especially here in the dry climate of Boulder, Colorado. I drink 16 oz. of warm water each morning before I do anything else. This provides a little “mini-cleanse” each morning. Be sure to keep a glass of water besides you at all times and drink through the day. Not getting enough water will increase your fatigue and drain your mood as well. You can add a couple of drops of essential oils of lemon or orange to give your water a little added flavor and interest.
Of course “forest bathing,” “earthing,” exercising, walking with good posture while scanning the environment, and absorbing sunshine, can all be done at the same time. Take advantage of the mountains and foothills, or your local park, and go on a hike or walk, just make sure you take your boots off and dip your feet in the mountain stream!
Getting the most out of sleep and having an effective morning and evening routine, meditation, journaling and eating anti-oxidants are additional areas that can greatly improve your mood and productivity.
So you see there are so many ways to help boost your mood, that are natural, free and safe. Be sure that you are utilizing all of these before you decide that there is nothing that you can do to feel better and keep going, some you will feel the effects very quickly, others work cumulatively over time.
For additional assistance with boosting your mood contact me for a free consultation to see if my Amate Growth Work, Spiritual Life Coaching or Spiritual Cleanse programs are right for you. Dr. Eva @ 303-242-7824.