Spring is finally here, and this time of year can positively impact our mood and well-being. This impact is primarily due to warmer weather which increases our exposure to sunlight and promotes outdoor activities and socialization opportunities. However, many of us may need more than this seasonal boost to maintain a consistently positive outlook throughout the year.
Many other factors outside of seasonal weather, like work, home life or even current events, can decrease serotonin levels, resulting in a negative outlook. The good news is there are several ways to boost those levels and maintain an overall improved mood at any time of the year.
Increase your Vitamin D levels
A review published in the Journal of Nutrition found that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher risk of depression. Vitamin D contributes to multiple health benefits, including bone health, muscle function, overall immune function and increased serotonin levels.
Vitamin D3 is a type of Vitamin D produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight and can be found in some foods and supplements. It’s important to maintain adequate levels through diet, sun exposure and supplements, if necessary, to reap the benefits of this essential nutrient.
Rest, eat a healthy diet
Proper sleep and diet play a significant role in our physical and mental health. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that individuals who reported a healthier diet experienced better mental health outcomes, including a more positive mood. Our bodies need proper nutrition and rest to function correctly, and a deficiency in either can negatively impact our mood.
It’s helpful to create a routine in your day-to-day life that will aid in achieving proper diet and sleep. Prepping healthy meal options for the week and setting a dedicated time at night to start winding down are easy ways to start.
Mindfulness is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings without judgment. Start by finding a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down, then focus on your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the feeling of air moving through the nose. As thoughts or distractions arise, simply acknowledge them without judgment and gently bring the attention back to your breathing.
Mindfulness is a skill that can be developed with regular practice and patience and reaps many health benefits. Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve sleep quality, enhance self-awareness and promote overall well-being.
Indulge in your passions regularly
Engaging in activities we are passionate about and enjoy can increase feelings of happiness, fulfillment and purpose. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that engaging in creative activities, such as painting or writing, was associated with increased positive and decreased negative emotions. Here are some ways that indulging in passions can affect our mood:
- Boosts positive emotions. Engaging in enjoyable activities can trigger positive emotions and help to counteract negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety and depression.
- Enhances creativity. Pursuing passions often involves creativity and self-expression, which can increase one’s sense of flow, leading to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
- Reduces stress. Indulging in enjoyable activities can help us relax and unwind and lead to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can improve overall mood and well-being.
- Increases self-esteem. Achieving goals through our passions can boost self-esteem and confidence through a sense of competence and mastery.
Support serotonin production with probiotics
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, appetite and other physiological processes. Low serotonin levels have been associated with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Recent research has shown that probiotics, which support the production of serotonin, can positively affect mental health.
The gut produces an estimated 90% of our body's serotonin. By restoring balance to the gut microbiome, probiotics can help to increase serotonin levels, leading to a dramatically improved mood, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and other mental health benefits.
While certain seasons may naturally boost our mood, there are ways to enhance our outlook all year. By prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, learning to live in the moment and indulging in our passions regularly, we can cultivate a positive outlook and enjoy life to the fullest.
Justin Marsh is founder and CEO of Arthur Andrew Medical, a leading manufacturer of enzyme and probiotic-based dietary supplements, headquartered in Scottsdale.