Tips to Boost Your Mood with Team ICON Member April Imholte

I would venture to guess that most of us feel pretty amazing when we are taking care of our bodies and allowing time for some R&R. Unfortunately the busyness of life can sometimes overtake prioritizing what we need most. Stress consumes our days, which in turn can lead to a decrease in mood and energy. If you find yourself struggling, here are just a few natural ways to boost your mood and overall well being.

1. Nutrition

Research studies have shown a direct link between the foods you consume and your mood/behavior. Stressful situations can lead to the desire to consume "comfort foods" which may provide temporary enjoyment but are often followed by a sudden drop in blood sugar which can cause irritability and fatigue. On the contrary, foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts, chia seeds and sardines have been linked to a decreased level of depression. Probiotics like those found in yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh have been shown to improve signals across the gut-brain axis. These signals reflect an improvement in the activity of the brain involved in mood. Whole grains, leafy green veggies and foods rich in Vitamin D were also shown to improve mood and decrease risk of depression. More studies are being conducted but the one thing that proves itself time and time again is the foods you consume directly affect your overall well being and mood. Utilizing ICON Meals as a healthy option throughout the day is not only convenient, but a huge time saver. Their meals will give you well rounded, nutrient dense foods that will serve your mood in a positive way.

2. Activity

Movement is the best medicine. Ask anyone who is down or stressed how they feel walking out of the gym vs when they first walked in. Chances are, they will say they feel so much better after a good workout. There is science behind why this works. Exercise increases the release of endorphins, your "feel good" hormone. Endorphins primarily help one deal with stress and reduce feelings of pain. The pleasure effect associated with endorphins is in part related to the increased dopamine production that occurs due to endorphin activity. Even if all you have time for is to crank up the tunes and dance around in your living room, you will get that same "feel good" feeling.

3. Social Interaction

Set some time aside for socializing. Even those who would consider themselves introverts report that they crave social interaction on a regular basis. 2020 is a prime example of just how much socializing can impact the health and well being of humans. We are born into social groups. Our lives revolve around interactions, teamwork, and striving for the acceptance of our peers. According to Psychologist Susan Pinker, “Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters. Simply shaking hands or giving somebody a high-five is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust, and lowers your cortisol levels." Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. She adds that social interaction generates the release of dopamine which is like a natural version of morphine. It lowers pain and produces a natural high. Scheduling time regularly to interact with those who bring you joy will help to increase feelings of belonging and overall happiness.
The examples above are just a few ways in which you can positively impact your overall mood. If you find you are struggling lately with feeling down and out, try utilizing ICON Meals to ensure that you always have a healthy grab and go option, set aside at least 15 minutes daily for some movement (outdoors if possible which will get you some Viamin D) and schedule a coffee date with a friend.
Most importantly, remember that you are never alone. Please reach out to someone if you are struggling.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

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