Your Low Mood with A.Vogel

Just can’t seem to shake off your mood? Feeling low and don’t know how to lift your spirits? You are not alone! Life is full of ups and downs but, when the downs outnumber the ups, you can be left feeling really down in the dumps.

Whether it’s through grief, work pressure, relationship issues or sleeping problems, feeling low affects adults of all ages and, sometimes, the causes are not always obvious.

So, what can you do to help yourself and lift your mood? Today I am going to discuss 6 simple but helpful tips that you can use to help improve your low mood:

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Take regular exercise
  • A little helping hand from the sunshine herb
  • Include magnesium and zinc foods in your diet
  • Get plenty of vitamin C
  • Avoid canned soup.

1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Whilst alcohol can have an initial, temporary positive impact on your mood, the long-term effects can have a negative impact on your mental health.

Alcohol is a depressant, which disrupts the delicate balance of chemicals and processes in your brain and affects your thoughts and feelings. Regular alcohol consumption lowers serotonin levels in the brain and, as mentioned in previous articles, low serotonin levels are linked to low mood and poor sleep. Research has found a direct link between alcohol consumption, low serotonin levels and low mood.

Caffeine is another culprit that can negatively impact your mood! Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and blocks adenosine receptors, thus preventing you from sleeping. As previously mentioned in both our sleep and mood blogs, there is a vicious cycle between poor sleep and stress which can directly affect your mood.

2. Take regular exercise

As discussed in this article, “5 ways to avoid sleep deprivation“, exercise gets the blood going and produces ‘feel-good’ chemicals called endorphins that lift your mood and make you feel happier.

Furthermore, exercise reduces adrenaline and cortisol levels. These hormones are released when the body is under stress. Research has suggested that there is a link between stress and low mood, therefore, participating in regular exercise is beneficial for your mind as well as your body!

Low levels of vitamin D can also contribute to low mood. Sunlight is the major provider of vitamin D, so being outdoors, even on cloudy days, will help your body absorb some of the sun’s uplifting energy.

3. A little helping hand from the sunshine herb

St. John’s wort, also known as Hypericum perforatum, is a lovely herb to turn to if your mood is low or if you are feeling slightly anxious.

It has been used as a herbal medicine for many years and is known as the ‘sunshine herb’ due to its bright yellow flowers and its association with improving mood.

4. Include magnesium and zinc foods in your diet

Both of these essential minerals can be beneficial to your mood as well as your body! Literature strongly suggests that both magnesium and zinc deficiencies can contribute towards low mood.

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and it plays a crucial role in mood and brain function. Magnesium can help to convert tryptophan into serotonin and is needed to maintain healthy Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. GABA is an amino acid that is produced in the brain and works as a neurotransmitter to reduce the activity of neurons in brain and central nervous system, which in turn helps to reduce stress, improve mood and boost sleep. So, if you wish to improve your mood and sleep, it may be worth including some foods that contain magnesium in your diet.

Zinc is required for several biochemical and physiological processes in brain growth and function. An association between zinc and depression was first explored in the 1980s and, since then, several studies have concluded that a zinc deficiency can negatively impact your mood. Additionally, studies have suggested that zinc supplementation can be used in the treatment of mood disorders.

Below I have included a handy table to help you identify which foods contain magnesium and zinc.

MineralFoods
MagnesiumGreen leafy vegetables (spinach and kale), avocado, banana, chickpeas and raspberries.
ZincRed meat (beef, lamb and pork), shellfish, cashew nuts, chickpeas and lentils.

5. Get plenty of vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissues in the body. As well as this, vitamin C has been linked to improving mood. One study found that participants with higher plasma vitamin C concentrations were more likely to have a positive mood.

Furthermore, another study found that vitamin C was capable of decreasing anxiety in high school students. Again, this is another nutrient that is beneficial for your mind as well as your body!

If you want to try and incorporate more vitamin C into your diet, have a look at our 3-ingredient strawberry smoothie or our fresh fruit ice lollies recipe and have a look at our product Nature C.

6. Avoid canned soup

Canned soup can contain high levels of a chemical called bisphenol-A (or BPA), a chemical that has been used for years in the production of clear plastic bottles and food-can liners. This chemical has been linked to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety and is thought to damage brain cells and affect memory.

What’s more, canned soups (particularly tomato-based varieties) are often loaded with additional sugar which leads us to another case of sugar highs and lows with regards to mood.

A feel-good food alternative: Instead of buying in canned varieties, why not have a go at making your own soup? Check out all of our easy soup recipes over on our recipe hub such as our Easy Spicy Sweet Potato Soup. This will not only take out the risk of any BPA contaminated soup cans but also prevent sugar from sneaking its way into your meals.

So, what can you take away from this blog?

Your dietary and lifestyle factors can have both positive and negative impacts on your mood. There are several foods and lifestyle factors that can have a positive impact on your mood, so try and include some of these into your daily routine.

Thank you to A. Vogel for this article. You can see the original referenced blog entry here.

The Healthy Optimist

Our latest feature blog is brought to us by Nature’s Plus, written by Eric Schneider

Are you one of those people who can see the bright side in every situation? You may have more reason to think positively—research shows that optimism may benefit well-being.

Friendship and social contact matter, say scientists. And more than a few researchers add that the human touch is a recurring theme as a source of optimism and happiness.

HAPPY BRAIN, HAPPY BODY

Though not as exact as other science-based pursuits, the study of happiness and positive thinking has its share of concrete evidence.

“We do know that greater activity in the left side of the frontal and parietal cortex, relative to the right, is associated with greater happiness, positive emotion and approach-oriented behavior,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky PhD, author of The How of Happiness (Penguin Press). Researchers have discovered other areas in the brain linked to optimism as well.

On the other hand, irregularities in these brain regions are linked with depression, which is tied to pessimism. One line of reasoning: If pessimism is tied to depression, which often manifests as mental and physical illnesses, then optimism should serve as an antidepressant for both mind and body.

Scientists keep looking for optimism’s physiological roots, but positive thinking’s benefits are increasingly well documented. One Archives of General Psychiatry study found that out of nearly 1,000 elderly men and women, the highly optimistic ones had roughly a 25% lower risk of cardiovascular death than the pessimists.

Lyubomirsky and her colleagues analyzed 225 happiness studies with more than 275,000 participants combined.

“We concluded that happiness doesn’t just make people feel good—we found that happy and optimistic people enjoy countless advantages and benefits,” she says. Positive-thinking people have been found to be physically healthier, more productive at work, more likable in general and live longer. They are also “more creative, earn more money, are better negotiators and have more fulfilling relationships.”

Happy, optimistic people may see some unexpected benefits as well: Lyubomirsky says they are less likely to get into car accidents and report less physical pain. They also appear to enjoy greater cardiovascular well-being.

Dutch positive psychology specialist Ruut Veenhoven analyzed nearly 30 studies on happiness and longevity and found that “happiness does not heal, but it appears to protect against getting ill.” He likens the effect to the good health of non-smokers versus smokers, who are prone to more ailments.

A positive attitude, Veenhoven explains, can also result in reduced stress, which can negatively affect the body in many ways. Research has shown that stress may make people more susceptible to a wide array of disorders and diseases.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL TIES

An optimistic attitude may even help the body heal itself.

Lyubomirsky says it has been documented that positive-thinking people “recover faster from congenital heart defect surgery.” Similarly, Swedish scientists discovered that optimistic patients suffering from whiplash injuries recovered better than their glum counterparts. Patients with the lowest expectations for recovery were four times more likely to have higher disability levels and two times more likely to have moderate disability six months later.

Optimists tend to have strong social ties, according to Veenhoven, Lyubomirsky and other researchers. Veenhoven asserts that happy people excel at “creating social support,” while Lyubomirsky calls them “other-centered,” that is, less self-centered and “more charitable and helpful to others.”

“The happiest places are the places where social ties are the strongest,” writes Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss (Twelve). Case in point is Iceland, which is cold and/or dark for much of the year, yet is considered one of the happiest, most optimistic places on the planet, thanks, in part, to its close-knit sense of community.

This notion also applies to trust. Since optimistic people are more inclined to trust others and avoid putting up walls around themselves, they tend to succeed in creating an overall happier living environment.

Of course, the tricky part about studying and quantifying positive thinking is that it is a classic which-came-first situation. As Weiner puts it, “Is it that happy people tend to be healthier or that healthy people tend to be happier?”

Lyubomirsky has tried to untangle the knot in her own studies. “The causal direction undoubtedly goes in both directions—happiness leads to success, and success makes people happy,” she says. “It’s likely similar for optimism, but not as precise. That is, being creative or charitable doesn’t necessarily lead you to be optimistic, but it might.”

In The How of Happiness, Lyubomirsky details 12 key “happiness activities”—and “cultivating optimism” ranks high among them. People can do that, she says, by “keeping track of what you think is the best possible future for yourself or making a point of looking on the bright side.” Without optimism, happiness becomes something that we stumble across rather than create, making it harder to realize its benefits.

Lyubomirsky also cites “the pie chart theory of happiness,” which asserts that “50% of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes, 10% by life circumstances and the remaining 40% by what we do and how we think—that is, our intentional activities and strategies. The secret, of course, lies in that 40%.”

If we learn to embrace optimism and turn away from pessimism, we may not just be happier, we may actually become healthier.

Managing Stress – Flower remedies

Our range of Australian Bush Flowers is very popular and provides support to emotional wellbeing. It has been (and continues to be) a valuable tool to help many people through the recent unusual times.

This article is from the creators of Australian Bush Flowers and is focused on the feeling of overwhelm and stress.

It is easy to feel consumed by mental and emotional pressures. There are times in everybody’s lives where we can feel it is hard to switch off, because the mind is constantly active, and this can make us feel drained and overwhelmed.

It’s okay to admit you struggle, but it is essential to off-load your stress and taking actions to better your emotional wellbeing.

Here at Australian Bush Flower Essences, we aim to help you to connect with your inner self, ultimately improving both your emotional and mental state. We target your health needs with natural remedies combined with our bush flower essences. Uncover the transformative power of nature.  

Finding Time for Yourself is Crucial

To cut down on stress levels and ensure you have more quality “me time”, it is key to simplify your daily routine across – work-family – lifestyle – current situation and things you can’t resolve. Multi-tasking can also overload your brain, leading to impatience, irritability, overwhelm, forgetfulness and a weaker immune system.

Natural remedies which will do wonders to your emotional wellbeing:

Paw Paw is THE essence for addressing overwhelm and is in both the Calm & Clear Essence and Cognis Essence combinations for this very reason.

Paw Paw has incredible properties that can help you overcome these overwhelming negative emotions, and allow you to access your Higher Self, so that you may assimilate new ideas with calmness and clarity. Calm & Clear helps you wind down and better manage your responsibilities with your life and relationships. Cognis help those whose minds wander during times of stress and those who feel confused or overwhelmed.

If you like to meditate, Meditation Essence can be a great essence for you. This natural remedy helps you awake your spirituality through meditation, access your Higher Self and inner guidance that will provide you with greater intuition.

Why use Australian Bush Flower Essences?

· Clarity – Using the essences should help you gain a clearer state of mind. This means you can focus on tasks in your life without clouding judgement, whilst also exploring new emotions that were hidden to you before! Let us help – try > Calm & Clear Essences, Cognis.

· Guidance – You can use the flower essences for guidance through the struggles of modern life. This is due to the imbalances encountered in life, and the essences’ abilities to help you centre yourself. This influences your mental, emotional and physical well-being. We love these – try > Space Clearing.

· Reach the Higher Self – The benefits can be similar to meditation, where your body releases negative thoughts. This allows positive virtues such as joy, love, and faith to enter the body and reach the feeling of the higher self – enabling healing! Let us suggest something great for you! – try > Meditation.

· Relief – The aim of the products is to battle stressful parts of your life. This allows you to reconnect with your soul and gain relief from the alleviation of your stresses. We LOVE these – try > Emergency Flower Essences.

· Rejuvenation– Your body will feel like it has been re-started with a fresh mindset and new energy. This makes every day easier when motivation is key to success – whether that be excelling at work or simply getting out of bed in the morning with a spin of positive thinking. Let us guide you – try > Dynamis Essences.

·Health Balance – Many people use the benefits of natural remedies that may help with symptoms of health concerns both physically and mentally. This can range from harmonising menstruation and menopause, to help to improve the feelings associated with mood swings, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder. These work wonders! – try > Woman Essence Drops.

Sleep and Exam Stress!

Sleep! It’s so important for our health yet so many of us fail to get enough or at least enough quality sleep, which is what matters. Lack of sleep can have a huge impact on many areas of our health, and in particular stress! Talking about stress, this month sees the beginning of the exam period for many students. Feeling nervous before an exam is completely normal but for some it’s a time of severe stress and anxiety. Thankfully there is plenty we can do to support both sleep and stress levels.

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Dementia

Elderly couple sat on a bench looking out to sea

As we age it’s common to forget things now and again and we might fear this is the first sign of dementia, but that’s not necessarily the case! Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. Dementia is an umbrella term, used to describe a group of symptoms that commonly include memory, thinking, problem solving, language and perception.

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Anxiety

Picture of woman looking out of train window

Mental health awareness has definitely become more prominent recently and has largely been helped by the Heads Together campaign, from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Dr Chatterjee, from the ‘Doctor in the House’ programmes, also covered mental health in a recent episode, highlighting the important role that food plays in mental health. This is all extremely encouraging as mental health is a serious issue and people need to know what help is available and what they can do themselves, to make a difference.

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