TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN: 4 EASTERN TIPS TO BOOST YOUR MOOD
Feeling Down? Try These Natural Remedies
Even if you’re normally the happy-go-lucky type, these days there’s so much going on in the world that it can be hard to stay positive and keep a smile on your face.
And it’s ok to feel sad, frustrated, or just low sometimes. But when it feels like you’re always down in the dumps, something has to change.
In Eastern medicine, the mind and the body are connected, so your emotions can actually be caused by problems with your physical health. That means there are things you can do and foods you can eat that will boost your mood and turn that frown upside down.
Here’s your mood-boosting Eastern medicine checklist with the best tips and tricks from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda.
4 Ways To Improve Your Mood With Eastern Medicine
Brahmi, also known as water hyssop, or Bacopa monnieri, has been a popular stress remedy in the Ayurvedic tradition for centuries. Thought to raise your consciousness and awareness (sattva), Brahmi is often used to support meditation practices because it strengthens the mind-body connection. It’s name, referring to the Hindu god Brahma, shows how strong this little herb which grows in shallow ditches can be.
More and more research is revealing the mood-boosting and stress-busting properties of Brahmi. Studies have found that, thanks to high levels of antioxidants, the herb can reverse damage to the brain that happens as we age and might even prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Researchers have also found that Brahmi is great for improving your brain function: 12-week long studies done on adults show that the herb can improve your memory, attention span, and how quickly you learn. And thanks to its adaptogenic properties, it helps your body adapt to stress and anxiety, possibly reducing depression.
So if brain fog and stress are bumming you out, try adding Brahmi to your diet. You can purchase it in powder form or in capsules, and if you mix the powder with hot water it makes a great tea. If you really like it, consider growing it in a fish tank.
Shake It Off
In the west, we associate our brain or heart with our emotions. But in TCM, the Liver is the organ in charge of our feelings. When the Liver qi gets backed up, our feelings aren’t processed as effectively and we start to accumulate negative emotions like sadness and worry.
One way to encourage your Liver to get things pumping again is to take little breaks throughout your day to stretch and shake things out. When we rest, our Liver stores our blood so taking time to move your body throughout the day can keep it active and boost your circulation.
Here are some easy ways to move your body and get your Liver qi moving:
- Have a one-song dance party.
- Do a mini yoga session with some of your favorite poses. Try downward dog, tree pose, or child’s pose to open up tense hips and shoulders from sitting all day.
- Shake out each limb for three deep breaths.
- Go for a walk around the block.
- Grab some tea from the break room.
Sometimes, all you need to do is shift your body and focus for a minute to change your mood and get you out of a slump.
St. John’s Wort
St. Johns’ Wort, has been used for centuries as an antiviral and nerve pain herb. But more recently, herbal practitioners are using it to treat depression and mood problems.
And the scientific evidence on St. John’s Wort’s effectiveness when it comes to treating depression just keeps stacking up. A review of more than 30 studies concluded that the herb was more effective than a placebo and was almost as effective as antidepressants at treating mood problems. While it doesn’t have the same status as in Germany where it is prescribed more than all other SSRI antidepressants put together, it can definitely help improve your mood if you’re going through a tough time. And if you’re already taking an SSRI, ask your doctor if you can add or substitute St. Johns’ Wort, because sometimes there can be complications. Naturopaths usually prefer to titrate down a conventional antidepressant as you are building up St. John’s Wort in order to prevent serotonin syndrome, which manifests as depression..
You can find St. John’s Wort in pill capsules or as a liquid extract. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, you shouldn’t self-treat for longer than 12 weeks so if you’re still struggling after that, make an appointment with a medical or mental health professional.
Soak Up The Sun
Feeling down in the dumps? Get outside and soak up the sun. Even if all you can do is sit on your porch in the afternoon, make some time to get in those rays and you’ll notice a big improvement in your mood. Just don’t forget SPF! But, put it on after your Vitamin D fix.
According to TCM, getting out in the sun helps boost your mood and make you feel better because it’s a natural source of Qi, the life energy that is inside every living thing. The sun also holds a lot of Yang energy, which can help to balance the dark, cold, and sometimes gloomy Yin energy that we hold.
From the western POV, the sun helps to boost our serotonin (the feel-good chemical that makes us happy). When we don’t get enough sun, our moods can dip. That’s why some people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes called seasonal depression) in the winter months. One study from BYU found that people who get less sun are more prone to mental health distress, and another one noticed that cognitive function can drop without enough sun exposure.
If you’re in a place that doesn’t get a lot of light in the colder months, try to get outside in the morning or early afternoon to make the most of the sun. You can also try a light box that mimics the sun’s effects. According to Harvard Medical School, it’s best to get one that reaches up to 10,000 lux exposure and to use it for 30 minutes a day (though it doesn’t have to be all at once).
If you’re struggling with your mood and feeling low, don’t lose hope. There are plenty of ways you can help your body and mind feel better. Try these 4 tips from Eastern medicine and see how your mood improves naturally!