It’s been two years since our lives, as we knew it, came to a screeching halt. We were commanded to stay at home and change the way we do literally everything! Now that the country, and our beautiful Pacific Northwest, has begun to open back up and start functioning in this “new normal”, saying most have cabin fever is certainly an understatement. While we want to run into the streets, dance, sing, and hop back into our normal sunny day antics, it’s not quite that simple. Along with a few lingering continued restrictions over safety concerns, cabin fever isn’t the only state of mind at an all-time high. Anxiety and depression have been triggered in record numbers of Americans and around the globe, and despite being given the green light to start enjoying life again, it lingers in the general public as if it’s part of the “new normal”.
Well, we don’t have to live anxiously as we re-enter the world. We can use the sunny days ahead to help us at least feel comforted and reduce anxiety. With the rotation of a few practices, we can set our mind and emotions on the right course and keep us balanced as we maneuver through stressful times. Here’s 8 natural ways to help boost serotonin levels and kick your endorphins up a notch.
- HIKING – Taking advantage of nature’s beauty and the sunny outdoors always changes my mood and chemistry for the best. Science has proven exercise increases your endorphin levels, creating a positive feeling in the body, and physically strong which will boost your overall well-being and confidence. You don’t have to hike an actual mountain, but a daily stroll with a walking group or one or two friends on a local trail can be a great mood booster, people of all fitness levels can benefit from this. Not to mention the fun of talking and walking with others is simply good for the soul itself, but when combined with being surrounded by Mother Nature there’s really nothing like it. Personally, I prefer a trail with a waterfall or a beautiful lake with a resting place to re-center myself and gain peace before returning to the concrete jungle. Here in the Tacoma-Seattle area there are many walking groups to choose from or simply grab a friend and head to a number of state parks and go for a stroll together. Or hey, drop me a line and we can knock out some trails together!
- GROUNDING aka EARTHING – Although I’m born and raised in the city, much of my fathers side of the family are from small towns in the state of Georgia. My father was a farmer by trade so it’s no wonder I embrace nature. Since I was a child, I’ve absolutely loved the feeling of my skin against earth. Touching the earth whether directly on soil or soft green grass has always been a way to soothe my spirit, giving me a feeling of peace and wholeness. Come to find out there’s a scientific reason for this and it’s an actual “thing” called grounding or earthing. Grounding is the practice of simply standing, sitting, or walking barefoot in direct contact with the earth. The transfer of energy from the earths electrons to your body helps to give a sense of “grounding” within yourself and seems to bring you into the moment relieving feelings of anxiety. The next time you’re in your yard take off your shoes and just take a moment to feel the cool soft grass on your feet, close your eyes, and take a few purposeful deep breathes. It’s that easy.
- GET YOUR Zzzzz- We all know the importance of sleep, yet we do everything to avoid it. Getting proper sleep is one of the top things you can do to show yourself love and re-energize your physical, mental, and emotional self. The next time you’re feeling groggy, down, or cranky, do yourself (and others 😊) a favor by taking a nap. There’s no age limit or guilt needed, just do it. Your chores and “to do” list will always be there. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and thankful for the rest and rejuvenation so you can get back to the activities you love with full energy and an improved mood.
- GINSENG- Ginseng has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries for many conditions including stress reduction, mental clarity, boost energy, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, even to help manage sexual dysfunction in men. This can be found at your local health store and can be taken in a capsule or tea form. While some may see no benefit, many swear by it and feel it gives them the emotional energy to combat their mild depression which is important to even begin think about engaging in other practices of well-being since depression zaps most peoples’ energy at times. Most take it in the form of a tea, or a supplement which can be found at your traditional supplements store.
- SHOW YOURSELF SOME LOVE- At times we can be our own worst critic. Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to want to make improvements to your life and grow but be sure to handle yourself with love and compassion. You are your friend first before anyone else’s. Self- love can look different for each person, but when it comes down to it, it’s you being true to who you are and intentional about your happiness and recognizing your worth. Oh and don’t forget, sometimes it even means saying “no” to a request simply because….you don’t want to.
- WRITE IT DOWN- Expressing yourself often comes with a feeling of relief. Journaling is a great way to get out your thoughts, frustrations, and even secrets that keep you feeling down or cloudy minded. You may not even know what you want to write about initially, just free write. This involves simply writing anything that comes to mind and see where it leads you. A lot of people have been isolated over the past couple years and that has taken a toll on their emotional health in major ways. I strongly encourage you to converse with yourself through pen and pad to lighten your emotional load.
- KEEP A GRATEFUL HEART- A little gratitude goes a long way when it comes to mindset. You can practice gratitude by simply saying out loud, or journaling, everything you’re grateful for. You can even be in the moment giving thanks for whatever it is you’re doing right then and there. This helps you give attention to what you have, instead of what you don’t, and literally quickly shifts your energy and mind set.
- GIGGLE TO YOUR HEARTS CONTENT- Laughter is an absolute powerful force when it comes to our emotional and mental health. Not only does it help you practice mindfulness, being in the moment, it increases our serotonin levels, which is our “happy” chemical in the brain. Catch a funny movie, hang with the funny friend, or perhaps visit a local comedy club even. This might be just the pick-me-up you need.
Lastly, please be patient with the things you feel you haven’t done, be kind to yourself if you’ve judged your progress during this difficult period. Take a few deep breathes, hug yourself, and be ok with doing nothing on some days.
These tips can be helpful but most of all live your life, love yourself and others, and laugh as much as possible. I hope you find this helpful, and please feel free to share with us your stories of overcoming and inspiration as we journey together to our best self.