The Key to Happiness by Rachel Schwartzman | #WELLBEINGWEDNESDAYS
So many people I see in my practice talk about being overworked, over scheduled and overtired, that they forget about being happy. Another obstacle to happiness, are those dark cold winter days fast approaching us. While I don’t believe there is a magic pill that can make you happy, I do believe there are a few strategies that just may crank up your happiness scale.
Mindfulness– this can be as simple as checking in with yourself. How are you feeling at this moment? With this comes the idea of self-regulating thoughts and practicing deep breathing exercises. I often recommend taking 20 deep, cleansing breaths per day; inhaling and exhaling to a count of 4. It’s amazing how something so simple can calm your nerves, manage stress and bring forth happiness.
Get Outside Daily. Research shows that after five minutes of outdoor time, people’s moods improve and self-esteem goes up. If water is present, like a pond or stream, the feelings of happiness are even greater. The research on Exercise for depression, is equal to or better than medication. Exercise boosts dopamine and oxytocin levels, 2 hormones responsible for happiness and love. Think about moving your body outside daily to increase your dose of happiness.
Eat a cup of greens daily. Dark green veggies, such as collard greens, chard and spinach, are a rich source of vitamin C and magnesium. These are both important in converting tryptophan and tyrosine, amino acids needed for serotonin and dopamine – the neurotransmitters responsible for making us feel joyful. A good dose of greens every day is therefore a must.
Give fermented foods a try. Did you know the gut is where most of the body’s serotonin is produced, not the brain. So we want to make sure we give our digestive systems plenty of good bacteria to help make this happy hormone. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, kefir and kombucha, all feed the healthy bacteria in the digestive system. Another option is to take a probiotic daily.
Ditch the Sugar. Blood sugar levels spike and drop after an intake of simple sugars or refined carbohydrates. This leaves you with a short-lived burst of energy followed by a tired, cranky feeling. Sugar also depletes your body of essential nutrients, like B-vitamins that help your body cope with stress. Focus on eating whole foods such as; brown rice, quinoa, legumes, fruits, vegetables and ditching those simple sugars.
If your mood is still low consider a high EPA fish oil. Research shows the EPA to DHA ratio needs to be a minimum of 4:1 to help regulate mood. Lastly, consider St. Johns Wort. This is an excellent herb for the nervous system, helping to ease anxiety and irritability. There is lots of research showing how beneficial this herb is for individuals suffering from mild to moderate depression.
I hope some of these suggestions bring you joy. Be gentle with yourself and if needed speak to a medical professional.
Rachel Schwartzman is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, Doula and Acupuncturist. She practices in Toronto and can be reached at 416-371-3422. To learn more about Dr. Rachel take a peek at www.rachelschwartzman.com