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Luckily there are many other ways we can look to stimulate our brains and improve our moods without any potential negative effects.
This is going to sound incredibly obvious but, seriously, do something you enjoy! This could be anything from watching the sunrise or the sunset, cooking, exercising, walking in the countryside or the city, to spending time with your family and friends. If you can’t do it immediately, make a date and keep to it. Have something to look forward to.
The simple answer is yes. Exercise is probably the best and most immediate way for us to get out of that slump. An early morning walk or jog is a great way to lift our spirits. It’s a natural antidepressant as, not only will it increase your endorphins (our feel-good hormones), it will help our vitamin D intake through the sunlight and, as with chocolate, increase our serotonin levels.
Should the weather not be so accommodating, working out indoors or at a gym will be equally as mood boosting. We have lots of information on how and why exercise is beneficial in Lifeplus formula so please do take a look around.
And don’t forget mindfulness is a great way to focus on the present and take time out to reflect. A quick 15 minute session will help – you can even weave it in during a regular daily activity such as brushing your teeth, eating your breakfast, or ironing your clothes. Meditation is another good way to boost your mood. Not only is it a calming way to reduce stress and anxiety, it may also help your memory and your ability to process information.2
Another way is to stimulate your mind. Do something to boost your mental energy. There are many studies which scientifically evidence the impact lifestyle habits can have on our brains and the importance of keeping our minds stimulated – if looking to reduce age-related cognitive decline. Despite headlines we may have read, there is controversy around the longer term impact on our likelihood to develop dementia-causing diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, the good news is that doctors think it may help build up a ‘cognitive reserve’ which could mean we retain our abilities for longer even if we do get such a disease.3 But what about the here and now? What can we do to stimulate our minds today? Here are some ideas:
Jigsaw puzzles: according to Dr Patrick Fissler et al, ‘jigsaw puzzling taps multiple cognitive abilities and is a potential protective factor for cognitive aging’. 4
Card games: researchers from Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison found card games can lead to greater brain activity and could improve memory and thinking skills.5
Use your senses: In the report, ‘A multisensory perspective of working memory,’ researchers found using all our senses can actually help strengthen our brains.6 So try focusing on your senses more when you’re out and about, or even cooking your evening meal. It can help stimulate your mind.Other examples are the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi, renowned for its health benefits and now linked positively with our brain functions ; dancing and learning a new skill (which could be Tai Chi!).7
Curcumin, found in turmeric, has already been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can now be linked to improved memory and our moods according to Dr Gary Small, Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at UCLA. Small et all’s research found that, those taking curcumin ‘experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities,’ whilst the subjects who received placebo did not. Small found that those taking curcumin also had ‘mild improvements’ in their mood.8 So it seems, perhaps, a curry might be a good a replacement for chocolate?
So there you have it. There are many ways to kick that slump. All you have to do is be bothered to do one – and as we know sometimes that’s the hardest thing of all!
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