Across the globe, people are spending vast amounts of money on stress medication, anti-depressants, and mood enhancers. While medication can be somewhat effective, dosing your system with chemicals every day could lead to serious repercussions. Fortunately, your body has its own way to recover from stress and balance your mood — you only need to know how to activate them.
There’s a real reason the sun is associated with renewal and hope. Exposure to the sun releases serotonin in your body, uplifting your mood, and giving you a burst of energy. The lack of sunlight is often associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or major depressive disorder (MDD) with seasonal patterns. Both terms relate to depression caused by a decrease in serotonin production in winter months because of insufficient exposure to sunlight. Get a little sun every morning.
Better yet, pair it with:
A little activity can do wonders for your mood. As your heart rate goes up, your body releases endorphins, hormones associated with runner’s high, that keep you energised and happy. Regular exercise also keeps your weight in check. Obesity and weight issues are serious factors that can lead to or exacerbate depression. Exercise wards off the blues in the short term while keeping you fit and protected from weight-related depression. Walk or jog in the morning and get a dose of sunlight while you’re at it. Take a spin class or join a CrossFit box. The social aspect of exercising will make things more interesting and ensure more regular sessions.
A good night’s rest is your body’s way to recover from stress — whether physical, mental, or emotional. Not enough sleep can leave you feeling tired, overwhelmed, irritable, listless, and quick to anger. Sleep allows your body to heal from injuries and recover from fatigue. It also reduces stress hormones that make you grumpy. A good night’s sleep will have you feeling sharper, more focused, and more clear-headed. If getting to sleep on schedule can be a bit of a problem, you should lay off the phone, television, or your laptop a couple of hours before you sleep and try not to drink caffeine late in the day.
Social interactions, especially with people you genuinely care for, give you a feeling of warmth, acceptance, and security. During these interactions, your body releases oxytocin, more commonly known as the “love hormone”, when you’re with people you love. The body unleashes oxytocin through intimacy — whether through sex or casual conversation. It balances your mood and gets rid of feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
Meditation affects your body at a chemical level by reducing the production of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that pushes your body toward degradation instead of renewal. Meditation suppresses the production of cortisol by putting your body into an anabolic state usually achieved only when sleeping. Schedule a few weekends for yoga and meditation retreats. They’ll take you away from the urban jungle and give you a brief respite from everyday stress.
Stress is not something to take for granted but taking medication can be a little extreme. Use your body’s own stress-relievers and mood enhancers — and reduce your reliance on potentially harmful chemicals.