Boost your mood with these 10 easy ways to put an extra spring in your step
Sprinting for 30 seconds can boost your mood for up to 90 minutes afterwards, according to sports psychologists at the University Of Essex. How? During a 30-second sprint, levels of the buzz-making hormone noradrenaline increase seven fold and endorphins double. To get the boost yourself, add a 30-second sprint to the end of your workout. Or leave home late: Dr Dominic Micklewright, who led the study, says you’ll get the same buzz running for the bus.
Researchers at Taiwan’s Chung Shan Medical University say banana peel contains ingredients that increase levels of the happy hormone serotonin. They suggest you drink the water in which you’ve boiled a banana skin to get the boost. We tried it (boil for 15 minutes, sip when cooled) and it tastes like camomile tea with a banana kick.
Each morning, write down what you aim to do that day in a My Plan column, and at the end of the day, compare it to a What Actually Happened column. According to GP Dr David Delvin and psychotherapist Christine Webber, this process will help you to assess where you are overcrowding your life and expecting too much of yourself – and where you are increasing your stress. Also, organising your thoughts and reactions in this way can help you achieve a state of calm. For similar tips, visit www.netdoctor.co.uk.
They’re a good source of the de-stressing amino acid taurine. ‘This inhibits adrenaline and helps your body eliminate the stress hormone cortisol,’ says pharmacist Shabir Daya from natural health company Victoria Health. ‘It creates a real “nothing can affect me” feeling.’ Seafood’s another good source or, for a fast fix, try Victoria Health's Good Health Naturally Taurine Spray, £19.45. Simply spritz it under your tongue when the pressure’s on.
The faster you think, the happier you feel, says psychologist Professor Emily Pronin of Princeton University, US. When she asked people to read statements twice as fast as they would normally, they felt happier, more energetic and more powerful afterwards. It works because it mimics the way your brain reacts when you’re excited or inspired.
Seeing flowers first thing in the morning gives people an energy and mood boost that lasts a few hours, says Dr Nancy Etcoff from Harvard University in the US – and kitchen blooms are most effective. ‘But don’t put them near a bowl of fruit or the vegetable rack. Fruit and veg produce the gas ethylene, which increases the speed at which flowers wilt,’ says Colleen Smith at Plants For People.
A daily dose of the Russian herb rhodiola can make you feel happier and improve your selfesteem according to a two-week study of depressed patients at the Swedish Herbal Institute in Gothenberg. ‘Rhodiola is known to improve levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine,’ says Alex Kirchin, technical director of vitamin company Viridian Nutrition. Dopamine is the hormone that boosts motivation, alertness and confidence. ‘It can influence mood in as little as 30 minutes,’ says Kirchin. Try Viridian Maximum Potency Rhodiola Rosea Root, £24.95. To find your nearest stockist or to buy online, visit www.viridian-nutrition.com
Dr Mark Atkinson, author of The Mind Body Bible (Piatkus Books, £12.99), suggests you think about what’s stressing you, noticing where you feel it in your body (the chest is a common area). Now breathe in and out, focusing on that area, telling the feeling to soften and flow. It’ll move about your body, so keep shifting your focus, and eventually, usually within 10 minutes, it’ll exit. ‘You’ll know when you’ve got to this stage because you’ll feel lighter and more energised,’ says Dr Atkinson.
Sugar boosts serotonin levels in the brain, making you happy – and some honeys may also offer high levels of antioxidants. ‘The part of the brain involved with anxiety is the hippocampus and this is particularly prone to damage by free radicals,’ says Dr Nicola Starkey from New Zealand’s University Of Waikato, who found that honey-fed rats were less anxious than other rats. So protect your hippocampus with honey and you may find yourself feeling less stressed.
Listening to a choir may make you happier, but you’ll be happier still if you’re doing the singing, according to research from the University Of Frankfurt, Germany. ‘When you sing, you inhale quickly, then you let the breath out slowly, which calms you down,’ says Dick Knight from www.singforhealth.com. ‘Plus that initial breath sends oxygen flooding into your system, which energises you.’
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