Get your Natural High in January
At this time of year it’s normal to feel gloomy and feeling sunny can sometimes seem out of reach. Statistically, the most depressing day of the year is the 3rd Monday of January. This year, the 3rd Monday falls on January 16th - next monday! This is due to post Christmas festivities, bank balances have dwindled, everyone’s got a cold, and the dark days can make us feel "SAD". So we’ve asked our experts what we can do naturally to help us feel better! Below comprises some fantastic insights for body mind and soul to help us lighten these dark and moody days!
by Sara Jubb glo's Naturopath
What you eat can have a huge impact on how happy you feel, so here are my top tips to help you boost your mood naturally.
Eating foods like broccoli, lentils, bananas, citrus fruits, dairy, eggs and beans will increase your body’s production of a neuro-transmitter called GABA which will promote feelings of happiness. Drinking green tea and eating nuts can also increase levels of GABA.
Magnesium is another chemical that can improve our mood. You can get magnesium from all green veggies, pumpkin seeds, almonds and other nuts and dark chocolate!
Turkey is rich in Tryptophan, the precursor to happy hormone serotonin which can help to improve our mood. Other foods rich in tryptophan include eggs, tuna, salmon, soy beans, chick peas, lamb, oats and dairy foods especially cottage cheese.
Another thing that can really help improve our mood is gentle exercise. Moving our bodies decreases our stress hormones and increases our happy hormones. Ideally exercise outdoors, especially in the morning, to maximise your exposure to daylight. Many studies have shown that people feel much better after exposure to bright light. Get plenty of sleep and cut down on caffeine and alcohol, which can make seasonal low-mood worse.
by Nichola Schwarz glo's Life Coach
If we think about our emotions like a spectrum from Fear at the lowest, darkest end to Love at the highest, lightest end, it can be very hard to jump instantaneously from one to the other. Our darker moods come with an inertia that is hard to shift, leaving us gloomy & stuck, unable to “just snap out of it”. A great way to bypass this inertia is to focus on moving further up the spectrum without aiming right for the top - instead of aspiring to feeling Joy or Love we focus on Gratitude. Gratitude is is an emotion that we can all create instantaneously however bad things may be eg even the homeless man in a desperate situation can be grateful it’s not raining, or for the warmth of his dog at his side. So for a quick mood lift on the most depressing day of the year choose to focus on what you have to be grateful for eg list your loved ones, things to look forward to in the year ahead, your skills, your security vs other people in the world. It could be the smallest of things - the caffeine in your coffee or the longer hours of sunshine in the days ahead - remember there is always something to be grateful for & by focussing on this emotion you will immediately start to feel more positive. Once you’ve started why not think of one thing to be grateful for every day for 100 days & watch as you shift to an “Attitude of Gratitude" - Good Luck!
by James Milford glo's Mindfulness Trainer
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives. You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life. There are those of us who are alive but don’t know it. But when you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy. (Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn quote and calligraphy)
A useful tip during the dark and wintery days of January is to use mindfulness to take more notice of pleasurable activities, and to notice how they can boost your mood.
Make a list of activities that lift your spirits (it can be simple - having a cup of tea, going for a walk, taking a warm bath, listening to your favourite piece if music, etc) and when you are feeling down, take a minute to connect mindfully to your breath. You can connect to your breath by thinking, in time with your breath “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.” It is such a simple practice, but it can help you come back to the present moment so that you stop focussing on things that might be making you feel negative. Once settled with your in and out breath, then choose an uplifting activity and give yourself permission to really enjoy it. Try to also maintain awareness of the activity, tune in to how it makes you feel as you do it so you can truly immerse yourself in the uplifting activity and feel the joy that comes naturally.
Mood boosting acupressure:
by Daniel Maxwell glo's Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Winter is the time of the element of Water according to the ancient Chines theory of the five elements. In the body, Water relates to the Kidneys and Bladder. During Winter, life and vitality recede deep within (look at the trees and plant life outside). At this time of year it is important to do a little less and avoid dissipating energy needlessly. It is also important to support the Kidneys. The Kidneys are associated with the vitality of the lower abdomen, and a simple way to support the vitality of the body in the winter is to hold the hands one over the over over the abdomen, just beneath the navel, and allow the breathing to move them in and out. Feel that the abdomen can be warm and comfortable, and continue until you can feel a pleasant warmth under the hands, deep in the abdomen. This accumulates energy at the acupuncture points Qihai REN-6 (the ‘sea of qi’) and Guanyuan REN-4.
Another useful point that can be helpful at this time is the polar opposite to this – a fire-Heart point. The Heart is associated with warmth and Fire, and therefore can become flat when there is so little sun and warmth about. The Heart and the fire element are associated with the emotion of joy. The acupuncture point Shenmen HE-7 is located at the wrist crease, towards the edge of the little-finger edge of the hand, just below the little nobbly bone. Use your thumb to appy firm pressure to this point and breathe deeply. Feel your heart and chest relax and allow a gentle smile to soften your face. Relax.
Image courtesy of A Manual of Acupuncture by Deadman et al.
by Tanya Moulding glo's Aromatherapist
Aromatherapy can be used very beneficially for improving your state of being. Below provides my top 3.
Sweet orange is the ultimate happiness oil, a hug in a bottle. It's a sweet, uplifting citrus oil guaranteed to put a smile on your face and bring a bit of sunshine in. It's ideal for when you are feeling low in mood, restless and want to feel more optimistic.
Sweet orange is great to diffuse in a room to raise the mood and change the atmosphere
For a quick mood boost in the morning place 4 drops where you stand in the shower, as the water cascades the zesty, sweet orange aroma will stimulate your senses.
Frankincense, is excellent for instilling a sense of peace and clarity for when you are feeling overwhelmed, lack focus, concentration and have scattered thoughts. It has a long history of use in meditation, helps to slow and deepen the breath and quieten a busy 'monkey' mind.
Again, this is ideal used in a diffuser - add 5 drops to a diffuser of your choice
If needed 'on the go', place 2 drops on a tissue and inhale when required.
You can also place 2 drops in 10ml of sweet almond or jojoba oil and fill a roller ball bottle, apply a small amount to temples, wrists, upper chest.
Rosemary is piercing, herby and stimulating oil and is very useful for tired and sluggish minds and bodies. Rosemary is an excellent energiser, confidence boosting and helps 'fortify' you when feeling overworked and or overtired. For me it's like a herbal caffeine hit!
Another one to add a drop to a tissue to inhale when you're energies are flagging.
Can be used in a diffuser to aid studying, clarity and focus.
*do not use if you have epilepsy, high blood pressure or pregnant.
To make a bath or body oil you can also add any of the above oils to a plain, plant based carrier oil, such as Jojoba, Sweet Almond or Grapeseed. As a guide use 1 drop of essential per 5ml/gram of carrier, i.e., 2 drops of Sweet orange to 10ml of Jojoba oil.
by Sindy Matthews glo's Yoga Teacher
Exercise is a wonderful way to naturally boost your mood. When you exercise, natural chemicals called endorphins are released. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain linked with the perception of pain so that pain is reduced. Endorphins will also create a positive feeling in the body.
Here are some great yoga exercises to help boost your mood:
Take a standing posture and take your hands above your head and reach for the ceiling. Take a deep breath in as you stretch and exhale as you release.
While standing, move your chin to chest and bend forward slowly until you reach the floor, inhale and slowly roll up the spine, bring the head up last and then take the arms above the head for another stretch. Do this several times. It's a great feeling and will warm up your spine, as well as your legs.
To get energised, bend at the knees when you start to stand up. This will warm the legs and get the blood flowing about your bigger muscle groups.
Repeat the sequence 10 times to feel better today!