Now that Spring is almost upon us, it’s time to shake off the winter blues and enjoy the new season with renewed vigour. Today we’re going to look at the best ways to lift your mood naturally, including:
- mood-boosting herbs and supplements and how they can help you
- how to invigorate your daily routine with self-care practices
- the benefits of movement
- how to feel better by embrrracing the cold
- making your home your sanctuary
- how better sleep can improve your mental health
- the importance of getting outside
- fostering your connections with others
Mood-Boosting herbs & supplements
Let’s look at some of the stars in our Balance Collection that can help to lift the mood and support us in difficult times.
The term adaptogens has only entered the herbalist’s vocabulary relatively recently, but the medicines themselves have been used for centuries to support us through times of stress, building resilience and bringing vitality. When your granny suggested getting a “tonic” from the doctor, she was probably referring to an adaptogen. Adaptogens are considered safe, can be used long-term with no ill effects and, as the name suggests, they adapt to our needs.
A key adaptogen is the long-revered Ashwagandha, found in our Balance and Energy products. It promotes vitality, and aids concentration and clarity while also promoting quality sleep as its latin name Withania somnifera suggests (Somni refers to sleep). Ashwagandha is the Sanskrit name which means “that which smells of a horse” referring to both the scent of the root but also the idea that it gives you the strength or essence of a horse when you take it. It has been used since ancient times in India to restore and rejuvenate; more recent studies have looked into this further, finding evidence that it supports the endocrine and nervous systems, making it a key herb in treating low mood, anxiety, insomnia as well as some of the often subclinical pathologies behind these conditions.
Another well-respected adaptogen is Rhodiola rosea (also found in our Balance supplements), which has been used for centuries to improve physical and mental performance and support our battles with stress. More recent research has discovered its wide-ranging benefits including the all-important antioxidants to help the body deal with physical stress, anti-inflammatory properties which help calm the inflammation most of us are burdened with in this modern age, as well as being anti-ageing, which let’s face it is always a bonus! Again, Rhodiola has been found to support the neuroendocrine and immune systems, which are responsible for keeping us well and balanced as between them they deal with most assaults on our wellbeing. It is widely recommended for lifting the mood and helping to restore our oompf.
Also known as Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), this wonderful plant grows in every garden and courtyard in India. We now know that this is due to the essential oils in Tulsi, which give it many of its medicinal properties including the ability to uplift and strengthen, as well as support digestive function and the respiratory system – great for shifting that winter grogginess. Tulsi is found in the Balance range and works well with other adaptogens to relieve stress and anxiety, rejuvenate and bring us back to good health.
Who doesn’t love this beautiful sunny plant? Melissa officinalis AKA Lemon Balm can cheerfully take over your garden if you let it, but only because it wants to bring you happiness and joy. Research has shown that it has a significantly positive impact on anxiety and anxiety-related disorders (i.e insomnia, irritability, eating problems) bringing relief without the unwanted side effects that pharmaceutical anxiety treatment can impose. The word “balm” comes from “Balsam”, the sweetest-smelling of all oils and refers to its honey-like sweetness. The lemony scent shines through when you rub the leaf releasing the all-important essential oils that lift, restore and according to Paracelsus “completely revivify a man”; be assured that it works just as well for women too. It is possible to capture this sunshine yourself with a few leaves in a cup, or you can find lemon balm working wonders in our Balance and Deep Sleep teas. Let it infuse, then breathe it in and enjoy Melissa’s soothing gentle hug that brings you back to yourself.
This beautifully apple-scented member of the daisy family hardly needs introducing but has been around for such a long time that it is often overlooked. Chamomile is gentle enough to be used by everyone, yet very effective at soothing irritability and restlessness, calming anxiety and frayed nerves as well as promoting sleep. Chamomile’s bitter properties stimulate digestion, which prevents sluggishness and helps to lift us out of a slump. Research has shown its potential benefits for sufferers of generalised anxiety disorder, particularly with associated depression, which supports its traditional use as a nerve tonic. Mrs Grieve called it “old-fashioned but extremely efficacious” for treating nervous conditions. Find it in our Balance tea.
Invigorate your daily routine with natural self-care
Self-care practices are essential for ensuring we can be the best version of ourselves, and the positive effect on those with mood disorders has been scientifically acknowledged.
Massage, for example, does not have to be an occasional indulgence. In fact, it can form part of a healthy morning regime that improves overall wellbeing. Using the right oil can really help to balance and centre us as well as release the essential hormone oxytocin through caring touch.
We don’t have to book into an expensive retreat to take care of ourselves, but can create our own home spa and indulge in a few basic self-care practices.
Physical activity is well documented as being beneficial for mental health as exercise releases endorphins, often called a natural antidepressant as they make you feel good. Having a brisk walk every day is a great way to start and a morning energy boosting smoothie can help to get you going. If you’re already an ardent gym attendee or have a daily Ashtanga practice, support your exercise programme with our workout blends. And if you overdo it: don’t worry, your muscles will welcome a rub with our Joint & Muscle Balm while you enjoy the satisfaction of having trained hard.
Embrace the Cold
Have you ever been startled to see folk swimming out into a body of water in what feels like arctic conditions? No, they haven’t lost their minds. In fact, wild swimming and Cold Water Therapy (also known as the Wim Hof method) has exploded in the UK in recent years. The benefits are numerous and studies suggest that a strong dose of the cold improves mental health, cardiovascular health, transforms adipose tissue (AKA fat), and protects our metabolism.
If diving into the icy waters of the North Sea doesn’t quite grab you as a morning activity, try having a scrub with a Revitalising Body Scrub, rinse off then switch to cold for a minute or two to remind your body and soul that you’re very much alive. We recommend starting with small doses and building up, push your limits a bit at a time and soon you’ll be enjoying that feeling everybody is raving about.
Your Home, Your Sanctuary
Our home is our haven, or at least it should be. Over winter, the closed-up home can take on a suffocating air. This can have quite a devastating effect on overall wellbeing and the traditional spring clean really helps to pull us out of that low place.
Sleep is probably the first port of call when addressing low mood and anxiety as without quality sleep, we simply cannot function properly.
Just as cold water therapy can lift and propel you, warm water is excellent for winding down and letting your body know it’s time for sleep. Reduce your blue light exposure, run a warm bath with bath salts, light a candle or get the diffuser filling the air with soothing scents, put on some tunes and sip some sleepy tea while you soak up the nourishing magnesium and soothing essential oils. Put on your cosiest pyjamas and snuggle into bed for a blissful night’s sleep.
If you’re still struggling to get your full night of rest, then try a supplement to further support and help you to let go of the day.
Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku is ever popular at the moment as we start to understand just how important contact with nature is for our mood and mental health. Significant reductions in cortisol levels, our chief stress hormone, were reported in several studies giving credence to the idea that getting into nature makes us better, as all readers of The Secret Garden will know.
Foster your personal connections
We humans are social animals and isolation is bad for us. There is a current drive for community projects nationwide from walking groups to community gardening, so check out what’s available in your local area to boost your oxytocin levels and get more contact with others and nature.
Ready to improve your mood?
We hope these ideas will help boost your mood and lift you out of winter, but if you need further assistance or are seriously struggling with poor mental health, reach out for help. Our team of herbalists can advise and support you.