23 HEALTHY WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
Rid Stress, Depression & Anxiety
It’s very common for people to suffer from depression to feel stressed, burnt out, and overwhelmed during these times. Stress can exacerbate symptoms of depression, while depression can also fuel stress, creating a self-sustaining negative cycle that can be hard to break.
Finding effective ways to manage and reduce stress in your daily life can be an important part of depression self-care. Addressing the root causes of your stress, learning to build resilience, and reducing the impact that stress can have on you all contribute to feeling more empowered, energetic, and hopeful!
Stress isn’t something that can be fixed overnight, but by taking small, consistent steps and sticking with it over time you can see impactful changes. Here are 23 ways to reduce stress and become a happier, whole you! Make a plan that works for you and stick with it. Go out of your way to implement these stress-relieving measures on a weekly– or even daily basis! You got this, just believe and know it IS possible.
The best way to start a practice is with these simple steps every day or week:
Each day, as you wake, place one hand on your heart, one hand on your belly. Take a deep inhale and a deep exhale. Repeat until you feel calm and awake. Slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique is supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body.
Before you get out of bed, declare that today is going to be an amazing day! State it confidently, affirm it, and believe it. If there is a goal or desire you are working toward, affirm that too! Say it as you mean it. Shout it out loud with a smile if you wish! Whatever it is, declare it boldly and confidently.
After doing the first two steps, you’ll make way for perspective to come through more clearly. This means that you have more tools to make choices. So, for example, if you normally hold fearful thoughts about the future and worst-case scenarios, start focusing on positive and loving thoughts about what you are grateful for and what you desire to create, or what you wish to occur. Say it, declare it, make it your daily morning mantra.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. You’ll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Taking in the sun and fresh air is an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy people. Whether it be a walk in your neighborhood, a park, or a stroll along the beach, the sun’s rays are healing! Try to step outside for a meditative stroll daily, even for just a few minutes. Use the time to breathe deeply, reflect, and think positively about anything you are working towards.
Picking any type of activity the outdoors is a great way to relax and unwind. Every 3rd Sunday of the month Pedal Movement & Beach Rental in LBC offers a free Public Roller Disco on the beach! From 3 pm-6 pm boogie on down in your inline skates or rollerblades to a live DJ set. Walk next door to rent your roller gear for $12 (protective gear is included).
Spend time in nature
A review of 14 studies found that spending as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting may help improve psychological and physiological markers of mental well-being, including perceived stress and happiness, in college-aged people (59Trusted Source).
Hiking and camping are great options, but some people don’t enjoy — or have access to — these activities. Even if you live in an urban area, you can seek out green spaces such as local parks, arboretums, and botanical gardens.
Practice deep breathing
Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, sending your body into fight-or-flight mode. During this reaction, stress hormones trigger physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing, and constricted blood vessels. Deep breathing exercises may help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response (60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source).
Deep breathing exercises include diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises. This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel at peace.
Whatever makes you happy, prioritize it in your daily or weekly routine. Block off your schedule for self-care time. Whether it’s going for a massage, lighting a candle and incense and jamming to your favorite music, taking a quick stroll outside, or picking up a hobby. Whatever it is make self-care a priority, just like exercise. Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated. It simply means tending to your well-being and happiness.
Anxious? Just squeeze, release, and repeat. Progressive relaxation involves tensing the muscles in one body part at a time to achieve a state of calm. The method (also used by actors) is a great way to help fall asleep.
Time after time, exercise has been shown to improve mental health and help fight stress, anxiety, and depression. Not only can exercise increase natural endorphins in the body, but it can also help lower its stress hormones. We recommend developing exercise as part of a healthy routine. Even if you are not in shape, everyone has to begin somewhere! Go on a long walk, take your significant other and kids with you, or go alone and reflect. Choosing an activity that you enjoy may help increase your chances of sticking to it in the long term. You’ve got this!
About 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient- with some populations having even higher levels of deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency leads to both medical and psychosocial problems. Many people who have depression may also have low circulating levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Effective detection and treatment of inadequate vitamin D levels is an easy and cost-effective way to improve mood and quality of life. Visit RenewMe Medspa for high dose Vitamin D shots!
Get good sleep
Prioritize getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night and follow a consistent schedule. If stress is making it hard to fall or stay asleep, try addressing this by journaling, practicing CBT, or other relaxation techniques like meditation
Eat a healthy diet
Make sure you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables (organic if you can), whole grains, and healthy fats like avocado and nuts. Do everything you can to avoid added sugars and processed foods. Trader Joe’s is a great, locally grown, cost-effective option for all. Visiting a local farmer’s market will provide fresh options as well as some sun, a nice stroll, and fresh air!
Focusing on positive aspects of your life every day (even for just a minute) can change your frame of reference in a meaningful way. Even when you feel down, you can always find something to be grateful for. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, fight them, and force yourself to focus on anything that makes you smile. Find something that can!
Take a Bath
There’s a reason baths are so luxurious, and part of that is because they make you so comfortable. Spending an hour with some bubbles, a good read and maybe even some candles can distract you and help your mind relax. It’s one of the simplest forms of self-care.
Reading in a park
Sometimes, being among a crowd of people can be comforting and make you feel less lonely and isolated. Sitting with a good book and maybe some small snacks in a park on a sunny day may be one of the best simple activities to fight depression.
Five minutes of peace is all it takes to reap the benefits of meditation. There’s evidence that just two quick bouts of silent meditation per day can relieve stress and depression. Find a comfortable spot in a quiet place, focus on your breath, and feel those anxieties start to disappear. Meditating on a consistent basis, even for short periods, may help boost your mood and decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety (52Trusted Source).
If you’d like to try out meditation, countless books, apps, and websites can teach you the basics. There may also be therapists in your area who specialize in MBCT. MBCT is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (51Trusted Source).
Yoga helps lower cortisol levels, stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate while increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that’s low in people with mood disorders (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source). Interested in free Yoga classes by the beach? Visit Yogalution on the Bluff (Long Beach) @yogalutiononthebluff. This one-hour session is every day at 11 am & 6 pm, weather permitting. Bring your yoga mat, a book, and a picnic basket! Afterward, lay in the sun and practice meditation & mindfulness on your own. Every 3rd Sunday of the month, after Yogalution, there are drop-in classes of Meditation & Silent Disco by @tlesure and @katrinaessence from 1 pm-3 pm ($22 donation), right there on the Bluff.
Just Relax Drip
When you’re chronically stressed, your magnesium levels may become depleted. Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in your body’s stress response. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to improve stress in chronically stressed people (20Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source). Our Just Relax Drip is a healthy alternative to strong medications. High dosing of magnesium with intravenous therapy provides instant relief of stress, depression, and anxiety.
An 8-week study in 264 people with low magnesium found that taking 300 mg of this mineral daily helped reduce stress levels. Combining this dose of magnesium with vitamin B6 was even more effective (30Trusted Source).
Other supplements, including Rhodiola, ashwagandha, B vitamins, and L-theanine, have been shown to rapidly help reduce stress as well (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
No matter what the song, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If you’re in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
Balance Your Hormones
Age and environmental factors throw off our hormones at increasing speed these days. Regulate your testosterone, progesterone, thyroid, and estrogen to regulate your mood, energy, sleep, and libido naturally. Learn more about our Biosynthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy program.
Laughter is one of the sillier ways to beat stress, but there’s science behind it. A fit of hysterics can increase blood flow and boost immunity. Check out a hilarious YouTube video (maybe a piano-playing pug?) for a quick pick-me-up.
Create a Zen Zone
Make (or find) a space that’s completely free of stress where you can go to relax. Set up a comfortable chair or light some incense and disappear there for a few minutes until the tension dissipates. Combine it with a few of the steps from above for the ultimate relaxation experience!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although stress is an unavoidable part of life especially now, being chronically stressed takes a toll on your physical and mental health. Fortunately, several evidence-based strategies can help you reduce stress and improve your overall psychological well-being.
Exercise, mindfulness, spending time with a pet, minimizing screen time, and getting outside more often are all effective methods.
JUST ONE THING
Try this today: Although there are many ways to reduce stress on your own, it’s important to get help when you need it.
If you’re experiencing overwhelming stress or symptoms of anxiety and depression, consider making an appointment with a therapist or visiting a trusted healthcare professional to discuss ways to improve your mental health.