Mental health affects every area of your life, from the capacity to work and be successful to the ability to have meaningful relationships. Mental health issues can take on many forms, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADD), post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.
If you’re struggling with any of these increasingly common mood disorders, there is hope. There are several natural ways to boost your mood, enhance your focus, combat negative thinking, and generally improve your outlook on life. Try these researched tips. [Please note: Continue to follow your mental health professional’s guidance regarding medical advice. These are natural suggestions for you to add to your mental health routine]
Natural Ways to Support Your Mental Health
1. Enhance Neurotransmitter Function
Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters that play a vital role in mood and overall mental health. Most antidepressants target at least one of these brain chemicals. Some natural ways to enhance the function your levels of serotonin and dopamine include:
- Feast on foods rich in tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. One study found that middle-aged women who regularly consumed tryptophan-rich protein hydrolysate reported improvements in emotional processing, mental energy, and reaction time. Examples of tryptophan-rich proteins include turkey, grass-fed meat, tofu, fish, beans, and eggs.1
- The amino acid tyrosine is involved in dopamine production; therefore, eating foods rich in tyrosine can help lift your mood, energy levels, and motivation. Protein is the best source, including turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, and legumes.
- Eat more foods that contain probiotics and take a probiotic supplement daily. Why? Most neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. The health of your gut and microbiome directly influences your neurological health. It also affects your cognitive function, memory, mood, depression, stress resilience, and overall brain health, all dependent upon strong gut health. An unhealthy gut environment can fuel inflammation in the brain and body, and worsen mood disorders and other imbalances in your neurochemistry. Probiotics work by supplying the gut with friendly bacteria and restoring balance.
- Exercise and listening to music have both been shown to boost dopamine, the ultimate feel-good neurotransmitter.
2. Meditate Every Day, Even for 5 Minutes
Daily meditation can be more effective than antidepressants. Practicing every day actually alters the connections and structure of the brain. Meditation also increases your body’s resilience to stress and reduces inflammation.2 Read more about the health benefits of meditation here.
3. Replenish Your Body With Mental Health Nutrients
Numerous vitamins and minerals play an integral role in mental health. For example, low levels of folate, vitamin B4, and vitamin B12 have all been linked to low mood and depression. Interestingly, research has shown that niacin (vitamin B3) helps improve symptoms of recent-onset schizophrenia when combined with vitamin C. Vitamin D is another important vitamin for mood and overall mental health — multiple studies show the connection between low levels and depression. Other important nutrients related to mood include vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and chromium, and honokiol extract.
Honokiol extract is a natural extract supplement that has been shown in research to support the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, support mood and brain health, and more.3 Try HonoPure, the purest form of honokiol extract for daily mood support.
4. Appreciate the Good in Your Life
Shifting your perception from one of negativity to gratitude is a profound way to rewire your brain and treat mental health issues. It’s simple: Look for things to appreciate every day. Even better, start and end the day by jotting down things you’re grateful for in your life.Research shows that living from a place of gratitude has physiological and mind-body health benefits.4
5. Stay Hydrated
This may seem too simple to make a difference, but it is a little-known fact about mental health. Think about it: Your brain contains. roughly 73 percent water. Dehydration, even a mild case, impacts your mood, energy levels, and concentration, according to research. Drink up! Water is the best, but other hydrating beverages include hibiscus tea, coconut water, and cactus water.5
6. Tame Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is often at the heart of depression. It affects serotonin function, especially in those with an inflamed gut, which diminishes mental and emotional health further. Omega-3 fats, ideally from cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and herring, have natural anti-inflammatory — and depression- and anxiety-busting — qualities.6,7
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Prioritizing your mental health is so important. By trying these researched steps, you can support your mental health and build a daily routine that makes you feel well, naturally.
- Mohajeri MH, Wittwer J, Vargas K, et al. Chronic treatment with a tryptophan-rich protein hydrolysate improves emotional processing, mental energy levels and reaction time in middle-aged women. Br J Nutr. 2015 Jan 28;113(2):350-65
- Saeed SA, Cunningham K, Bloch RM. Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation. Am Fam Physician. 2019 May 15;99(10):620-627.
- Zhang B, Li Y, Liu M, et al. Antidepressant-like mechanism of honokiol in a rodent model of corticosterone-induced depression. J Integr Neurosci. 2020 Sep 30;19(3):459-467.
- Cunha LF, Pellanda LC, Reppold CT. Positive Psychology and Gratitude Interventions: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Front Psychol. 2019 Mar 21;10:584.
- Armstrong LE, Ganio MS, Casa DJ, et al.Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):382-8.
- Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, et al. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Nov;25(8):1725-34.
- Grosso G, Galvano F, Marventano S, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: scientific evidence and biological mechanisms. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014;2014:313570.