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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:

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.

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.