A friend of mine recently had a close loved one who passed away. He understandably wasn’t the most talkative person in the months following his loss, but no matter how hard he tried, he found it extremely difficult to change his mood. “It was like one long bad mood that lasted for a few months,” he admitted to me one day.
For many people, changing their mood is not something that can be done at the flick of a switch—especially when it comes to dealing with the loss of a loved one or when hormonal changes occur in the body.
Some people turn to drugs or alcohol as a (rather unsuccessful) means to stabilize their moods, but there are natural, much healthier alternatives that can help. Let’s take a look at natural mood stabilizers.
What Is a Mood Stabilizer?
The term “mood stabilizer” is often misrepresented. Its origins come from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and it was originally used to describe prescriptions to treat psychiatric disorders. The term eventually evolved to include natural mood-enhancing supplements that are chalk-full of herbs and amino acids; these supplements can help give you that extra brain boost and they don’t require a doctor’s prescription.
According to a recent report, since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bankrupt in 2008, stress-related illnesses have increased, mainly due to anxiety as a result of financial uncertainty. What’s shocking is that there has been a decrease in antidepressant prescription drugs. People may be straying from pharmaceutical mood stabilizers due to their unfavorable side effects.
Top Natural Mood Stabilizers
What if you could create your own cocktail, but one filled with happiness—would you be interested? “Yes,” some might say. “But that’s impossible!” What many people don’t realize though is that they already have all the components in their lives to create their very own “happiness cocktails.”
For instance, let’s say that you have a favorite singer and you absolutely love taking long, leisurely morning jogs—combine these two elements together to create your own personal happiness cocktail!
Everyone has different spirit boosters, but the key is to implement them into your life at the right time. Behavioral psychologists say that finding key elements that boosts the spirit is beneficial for maintaining a positive mood and a positive outlook on life.
Here are some natural mood enhancement treatments:
1. We need food in order to survive, but what many people don’t realize is that when we eat heavy meals too often, we can become sluggish and tired—this will be reflected in our moods. If you do the opposite, which is eating frequent, light meals, you can prevent dips in your blood sugar. (If your blood sugar dips too low, it can negatively affect your mood.) Plan your meals and snacks to prevent yourself from getting too hungry. Eat six smaller meals each day to maintain a positive mood.
2. Limit refined carbohydrates, such as pop, candy, cookies, and white flour. These sources of sugar will give you a quick boost of energy at first, but then just as quickly cause you to crash and feel fatigued.
3. Protein is one of the best natural mood stabilizers. It makes you feel alert and productive.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential; studies show they can lift a person’s mood and alleviate depression. Try eating foods that are rich in omega-3-fats, such as oily fish, canola oil, olive oil, and even walnuts.
5. Researchers believe that vitamin B-12 and folate can help the body produce a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is a known mood stabilizer. By increasing your B-12 and folate intake, you can increase your chances of improving your mood. These nutrients can be found in shellfish, oatmeal, and vegetables.
6. Our bodies need to feel good in order for our minds to feel good; daily exercise will help you achieve this goal. You don’t always have to exercise at the gym; it could be something as simple as walking the dog or even playing sports with your kids. By getting up and moving, you will increase your mood and your energy throughout the day.
7. Our sleeping schedules, of course, can vary depending on our jobs and responsibilities. Sticking to a specific sleeping schedule will help your body and mind function optimally.
8. Simply getting some fresh air will refresh your body and your mind. We can all get wrapped up in our work or household activities, but don’t forget to visit Mother Nature, too. Every day, take a five-minute break, go outside, and inhale some fresh air.
9. Smile! Research shows that smiling each day actually activates “happiness” in the brain. I know it can sometimes be hard, but keep smiling and your mood will match your smile.
10. Volunteering and giving back to your community can actually give you a sense of accomplishment. By making others smile and boosting their moods, your mood will improve.
Nutritional Mood Stabilizers
1. L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that can improve brain activity. This amino acid is used by the body to create serotonin, one of the most important regulators of mood in the brain. Serotonin can help decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression, which labels it as a strong mood stabilizer.
2. Chamomile is a flower that is used in tea; according to research, it triggers the production of two neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, which are crucial for preventing anxiety.
3. Lemon balm is another natural herbal remedy that can be used for promoting sleep and reducing anxiety. Lemon balm contains important antioxidant properties that can reduce inflammation, which is directly linked to mood swings.
It’s always best to consult with your doctor or natural health practitioner before introducing new mood enhancing supplements into your diet.
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Sources for today’s article:
Goldman, E.G., “15 Natural Mood Lifters,” Spark People web site; http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1562, last accessed May 28, 2015.
Jansen, S., “Which Natural Mood Stabilizers Are Best For You? – Top 5 Naturally Occurring Mood Stabilizers,” Brain Smart web site; http://www.brain-smart.net/which-natural-mood-stabilizers-are-best-for-you/#axzz3XZO8vTpl, last accessed May 28, 2015.