Last week we talked about 5 quick ways to boost your mood during times of stress.  This week, we’ll explore and explain the science behind a few long-term habits that can help you keep calm and content during stressful situations.

6. Meditate: As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, meditation can do great things for your brain.  Regular meditation can change the way your body reacts to stressful situations and help you to maintain control. In fact, a study involving U.S. Marines preparing for deployment to Iraq found that soldiers who practiced regular mindfulness exercises reported more positive moods and fewer negative moods once deployed than those who didn’t.

7. Hit the gym: Exercise is a great way to lower the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) your body releases in stressful situations.  Regular trips to the gym or runs in the park can also help alleviate depression symptoms.  There were depression studies done at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas that showed decreases of up to 47% in depressive symptoms for those who began exercising regularly.

8. Get those 8 hours of sleep:  We all know lack of sleep can make us cranky.  But it can also be much more serious than that.  Studies have shown that 15 to 20% of people with insomnia will develop major depression.   Another says that people with insomnia are 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder.  So make sure you have good sleeping habits and get the appropriate amount number of hours as often as you can.  Here are some tips (http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/what-can-you-do/good-sleep-habits) for developing good sleeping habits to get you started.

9. Skip the energy drinks:  Caffeine, large quantities of carbohydrates, and alcohol are just a few of the things that can lead to an energy rush followed by the dreaded energy crash.  Save yourself the crankiness and look to high-protein, low-carb foods like almonds and hard-boiled eggs for balanced energy boosts.

10. Eat “good mood” foods: Bananas, avocados, dried apricots, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all foods rich with tryptophan.  This important amino acid can increase serotonin levels in the brain, which leads to a stronger feeling of well-being.  Also, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.  So add some salmon and mackerel to your plate from time to time. If you’re going the vegan route, walnuts and pumpkin seeds have a lot of health fatty acids too!

We hope you’ll find these tips helpful and you find ways to work them into your daily lives.  For more info, check out the resources below and the Anxiety and Depression sections on our main website!

Resources:

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20188493,00.html

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/food-and-mood/tips/boost-mood-and-metabolism.aspx?xid=tw_everydayhealth_20110801_mood

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/food-and-mood/tips/boost-mood-and-metabolism.aspx?xid=tw_everydayhealth_20110801_mood

 

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