It’s September and the summer season is over. So, with the weather inevitably taking a turn that can change your mood, it’s important to find a way to stay in your ‘happy place’. Here are a few health rules that I follow to keep smiling from the inside-out.
Take vitamin D
Optimum vitamin D levels have been linked to a happy state of mind, and our bodies make vitamin D from sunlight. Studies have shown that low blood levels of vitamin D are linked to more signs of depression. If you think you have low vitamin D levels, speak to your doctor and invest in a good supplement. Vitamin D is also important for immunity and bone health – if the sun does raise its head this winter, make sure you get at least 20 minutes of outdoor time to boost your bones.
Wear it well
What we wear is an extension of our personality, and often our mood. We all have days when we wear a ‘power dress’ to a meeting. It’s important to wear clothing that empowers you and makes you feel good. Ditch anything that’s too tight or feels uncomfortable. Wear clothing that makes you happy and confident. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. I always say ‘why try to fit in when you were born to stand out!’
Gut health has been directly linked to mood swings, anxiety and even depression. Looking after the gut is as important as staying physically fit, if not more so. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha, and probiotic tablets can help create a happy environment in the gut. Illnesses are rife in the colder months, so be mindful not to take too many antibiotics, which destroy good gut bacteria. If you have to take antibiotics, replenish your gut by having probiotics and fermented foods.
Sleep on it
Not getting enough sleep is a dead-cert way of making you feel grumpy. The less you sleep, the more tired you become, and the knock-on effect can last for an entire day – sometimes weeks! To fight fatigue, turn off blue light gadgets, such as smart devices and televisions, at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Being exposed to blue light before bed will trick your brain into thinking that you should be waking up. If you are still tired during the day, speak to your doctor about your iron levels, as you may have low iron levels and need to fight fatigue with supplementation, or try some energy-boosting ginseng.
The benefits of being outside surrounded by nature are well known. Green spaces can reduce depression symptoms, decrease the risk of heart disease and bolster immune function. Why? Because you’ll be more likely to focus on your surroundings than your inner turmoil when in the great outdoors. It’s a form of meditation without you even knowing it (as long as you put your phone away and look up). If you can find some quiet time to meditate outside, you’ll experience an increased blood flow to the brain and also lengthen telomeres (the protective DNA caps on the end of chromosomes that are linked to ageing).
A visualisation board is a fantastic way to boost happiness levels. To create your own visualisation board, all you do is place a selection of photos, magazine cut-outs and other images on a board. Try to find images of things you aspire to have and people you love to be with, or you could even source images of someone you would love to be in a relationship with. Walking by it every day is sure to put a smile on your face.