Bad days happen to all of us. From waking up late to sitting in traffic to a broken coffee machine – we all know sometimes life can be rough. We can’t get rid of those unpleasant moments; however, improving mental wellbeing can help regardless. There is no doubt our level of mental health and emotional wellbeing impacts each and every one of us. 53% of Americans reported personal health problems as a result of stress on their mental wellbeing, while only 26% knew how to effectively manage and reduce mental stress. Just as we purse physical health by taking care of our bodies, we can also purse positive mental health by taking care of our minds. Whether you are trying to get a handle on emotions, cope with specific health problems or simply want to feel more energetic, there are plenty of ways to take control of your mental health. In this FitBliss blog, you’ll find simple ways to help boost your mental health and mood throughout the day. If you approach these strategies with a positive, open-mind you can judge for yourself how you feel.
What is Mental Health and Wellbeing?
When we talk about mental health, we mean more than just happiness. Of course feeling happy is part of mental health and that doesn’t mean you’ll never experience tough situations or feelings. However, it means you’ll have the ability and strength to survive when times get tough. Your mental health influences how you think, feel and behave daily. It also affects your ability to handle stress, overcome challenges and create relationships. The idea is that overall wellbeing involves both the mind and the body. Strengthening our mental wellbeing is important because we all want to feel good both physically and mentally. Research shows the actions we take and the way we think have the biggest impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Think about wellbeing as something you do, rather than who you are. The more you put in, the more likely you are to reap those positive benefits.
Strategies to Boost Wellbeing and Mood
Mental wellbeing can take many different forms, but simply put, you want to feel good and live a healthy life. Everyday we have to work harder to ensure good mental health, because we are constantly juggling multiple demands, which take a toll of on our emotional state. But good news, you don’t have to worry! There are daily solutions you can do to help elevate mood, increase energy and ultimately help you find the right balance in life.
1. Value Yourself and Stay Positive
We live in a fast-paced society that is always demanding your attention. While you do have obligations, you must remember to schedule regular time for yourself! Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. It can be as simple as making time for hobbies, finding work projects that make you happy or reading a good book.
2. Take Care of Your Body
Eat a Brain Healthy Diet - We are, what we eat! An unhealthy diet can take a toll on your brain, mood, disrupt sleep, zap energy and weaken your immune system. By switching to a wholesome diet, low in added sugar and rich in healthy fats, you will gain more energy; improve sleep and mood, which will leave you feeling your best.
Foods that Boost Mood
- Fatty Fish rich in Omega 3’s, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies
- Nuts, such as, walnuts, almonds and cashews
- Leafy greens, such as, spinach, kale and arugula
- Fresh Fruit, such as, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
FitBliss Tip: From yogurt to salmon to chocolate (YES, you can have chocolate!), these foods can boost your mood in minutes. Check out these 24 meals to seriously boost your mood https://greatist.com/happiness/25-meals-boost-your-mood
Exercise - Staying active is as good for the brain, as it is for the body. Physical activity releases feel good hormones that can lift your mood and provide additional energy throughout the day. Regular exercise, such as a brisk walk, for just 30 minutes a day can help boost mood, relieve stress, improve memory and help you sleep better.
Drink Water. Over 70% of our body is made up of water. Dehydration can cause symptoms, including, headaches, impaired memory, trouble focusing, sleep issues, brain fog and mood swings. Studies have shown if you are only 1% dehydrated you will likely have a 5% decrease in cognitive function. Make sure this doesn’t happen by drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Having a reusable water bottle at your desk is a great reminder to drink up!
Don’t Skimp on Sleep - If you are having a busy work week, cutting back on sleep may seem like a good move; however, getting enough sleep is a necessity! Skipping just a few hours every night can take a toll on your mood, energy and mental clarity. Try to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Research shows that 44% of Americans report laying awake at night, which can lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health problems , including a higher rate of depression and , anxiety. and irritability.
FitBliss Tip: Having trouble sleeping? Before hitting the sheets dab some lavender essential oil on your neck, wrists or feet to help with relaxation and calm anxiety. Don’t forget to keep it cool for a good night sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 - 67 degree F.
3. Set Realistic Goals
Even small successes can have big mood payoffs. Start by deciding what you want to achieve academically, professionally or personally, and write down the steps needed to achieve each goal. You can aim as high as you like, but be realistic and make sure not to overwhelm yourself. You will feel so accomplished as you progress toward each goal.
FitBliss Tip: Feeling a bit off? When you are feeling down or in a bad mood write down what you’re thankful for. Even if there’s not time to write down everything, expressing gratitude creates an instant mood boost.
4. Create Connections
No matter how much time you spend on improving your mental health, you still need the company of friends and family to feel your best. We aren’t meant to survive or thrive alone. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, who will push you out of your comfort zone. Research suggests that people with strong family or social networks are generally healthier than those who lack social time.
Ways to Stay Social
- Try a new fitness class or studio
- Join a book club, sports league or paint by wine night to meet new people
- Volunteer your time
- Plan a dinner party with friends
- FaceTime or Skype instead of just calling
5. Rejuvenate Yourself
Having a set schedule and a routine makes us more efficient and productive throughout the work week. However, a little change of pace can break you out of your normal routine. Sometimes you have to take a step back to refocus the mind and change perspectives. The good news, even adding something small to your daily schedule can brighten your day. It can be as simple as changing your jogging route, trying a new restaurant, planning a spontaneous road trip or even reorganizing cabinets.
6. Learn How to Deal with Stress
We all know stress is inevitable and it’s part of life. Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. Studies found the best way to be positive is to stay centered in the moment, even when it’s not always enjoyable.
Ways to Stay Centered
- Daily lunch walks with coworkers
- Listening to music
- Meditation or Yoga
- Journal writing
FitBliss Tip: It may sound cheesy, but the act of smiling can change your mood around. Research shows laughter can boost your immune system, relax your body, ease pain, decrease anxiety and stress.
7. Digital Detox
It might sound crazy but go off the grid for just one day a week, possibly a weekend. Leave your smartphone at home or hidden in your purse for emergencies, but make sure to disconnect from constant emails, alerts, social media and work calls. Spend time with someone face-to-face instead of behind the phone or go try something new. This is your time to relax, reset and recharge before heading back to work.
Don’t forget to check in with yourself daily. Have you tried every strategy and still feel like you are in a rut? No one can force themselves into a good mood, but the good news no mood stays around forever. Just give it time and try to focus on the positive each morning. If you are feeling extra stressed, check out FitBliss’s April article Rethinking Stress for more strategies! With winter behind us, now springtime is in full swing. Remember to go outside, soak up that vitamin D and enjoy the beginning of longer days!
Danielle Stadelman, RDN
Danielle currently works as a Corporate Wellness Dietitian for Guckenheimer, a food service provider in many corporate companies in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Danielle also works as a wellness and nutrition content writer for several online platforms. She holds a bachelor degree in Dietetics and Food Administration with an emphasis on Food and Nutrition from Cal State Long Beach. Danielle is currently pursuing her certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. She is passionate about educating clients and corporate companies on the importance of eating real whole foods for better health and performance.
Follow @daniellesnutrition on Instagram for more tips on nutrition and wellness.
Want to Learn More about FitBliss?