It’s almost July, and that means warm temperatures, holiday travels, and hopefully more time spent with family and friends! Although we hope that you’re feeling a sense of joy and positivity as this season approaches – you may instead be feeling irritated or sad.
Let’s dig into what 'mood' means, and the three ways you can build your most positive, buoyant mood this summer season.
Understanding your Mood
Mood is a temporary state of mind or feeling. We usually associate mood with emotions and use descriptive words to define our mood.
Positive Mood descriptors:
Negative Mood descriptors:
Happiness researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, has identified 3 influences of mood. She reports that personality traits predispose our particular moods, which account for 50% of our "set point" of happiness. 40% is influenced by what we do deliberately to make ourselves happy while the remaining 10% is attributed to life circumstances.
Mood disorders affect over 20 million Americans, with major depression and bipolar disorder being among the most common types of mood disorders. Genetics are known to play a major role in influencing susceptibility to mood disorders. While we can’t influence our genetic predisposition, there are medical and natural methods for boosting mood.
Once diagnosed with a mood disorder, please keep in mind to always follow your doctor’s advice, and only use alternative therapies if they are appropriate for you.
Ways to build your best mood
If 50% of our happiness is determined by genetics, that means the other 50% is something we can influence!
Lifestyle choices are the biggest influencer we have control over.
Surprisingly, what we eat can affect our mental and emotional health. Certain foods can bring about changes in our brain structure (both chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behaviour.
What we eat impacts us in both a positive and negative way. We need food as fuel, however different nutrients have different effects on mood!
NUTRIENTS TO GET MORE OF:
- Vitamin D
FOODS TO AVOID:
- Unhealthy fats
The amount of sleep we get each night also impacts our mood. There’s nothing worse than being sleep-deprived while trying to maintain a positive outlook during difficult times.
Sleep and mood are inherently connected as poor sleep can cause irritability and stress, and stress can cause sleeplessness. Adopting regular sleep habits is crucial to getting the proper amount of sleep your body needs, and the following are a few steps you can take starting today:
- Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule
- Avoid caffeine too late in the day
- Start a calming pre-sleep routine
- Exercising regularly and early on in the day
#3. Physical activity
Physical activity and its mood-boosting effects have been the subject of numerous studies. The results of these studies indicate that exercise can:
- Trigger positive emotional processing
- Reduce negativity
- Resist stress
- Reduce anxiety by increasing serotonin levels
- Improves body satisfaction, leading to overall satisfaction
There is strong evidence that physical activity improves both short-term and long-term mood. Studies further show people who exercise regularly exhibit general overall happiness.
As such, physical activity is especially important for those vulnerable to depression or seasonal affective disorder.
Since this is a beautiful time of year, try walking outdoors each day. This activity is two-fold! You get the benefits of released endorphins by walking while enjoying nature which is also a natural mood booster. If you’re not sure what local parks or nature preserves are around, ask locals or look on the internet.
Other places to look for include botanical gardens, beaches, historical neighbourhoods, and walking trails. There are more places to explore on foot than you’d think!