How To Improve Mood and Reduce Stress – A Daily Checklist

Mood is a complex concept and is affected by many factors.

For example, it can be influenced by biological factors, environmental factors, lifestyle habits, as well as nutritional factors.

It’s important to realise that mood impacts every aspect of our life. From our relationships with others to our relationship with ourselves. When your mood is down, it affects everything. Conversely, when your mood improves, the world as a whole seems chirpier!

Our work at Elevate is to help people live an optimum life. We consider mood to be one of the seven key performance areas that have a direct impact on your well being.  

Here we’ve put together a three-part checklist. This list considers lifestyle and nutrition-related changes that you can easily make, and supplements you can take, each leading to improved mood and reduced stress. 

Lifestyle changes to improve mood and reduce stress 

Lifestyle changes to improve mood and reduce stress 
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

1. Cut your current screen time by 50%

Many of us have integrated screen time into our lives and don’t even realise it:

  • We wake up from an alarm set on our cell phones.
  • Often, we work on our computers. And then we take breaks by moving on to another screen.  

Today, it may seem impossible to escape screens. But spending this much time looking and engaging with a cell phone, computer, and television can negatively impact our mental health. Studies even suggest that screen time is associated with mood and anxiety disorders.1,2 

Eliminating screens completely from our lives is likely impractical. But we can significantly reduce the time spent with them. 

Start small.

Modern smartphone operating systems have built-in tools that track your mobile usage. Keep an eye on that and try to reduce it by 5% every week. That’s doable!

Use Screen Time on iOS to track and limit your smartphone usage

Your smartphone possibly also has a focus mode that minimises alerts while you’re working. Try to use it more often.

Use your phone’s focus mode to see how it automatically affects your screen time.

2. Simplify your digital life

In an era of information overload, take some time out to reduce digital clutter. Remove aspects of your digital life that you no longer enjoy or that don’t bring any benefit to you.

Minimalism is freedom from things that make us feel trapped or overwhelmed. It is a life dogma that easily applies to the digital world. In fact, digital minimalism has been gaining popularity recently. Consider exploring this further to ensure you have a grasp on technology and not the other way around. 

To start, clear your digital space.

For example, remove files from your computer desktop, delete apps you don’t regularly use from your phone, and update your devices to get rid of those pesky reminders!

Here’s a free starter course on digital minimalism.

3. Get fresh air and go for a walk outside… NOW

This one has an instant impact.

It’s pretty well known that exercise, fresh air, and sunlight can all contribute to an improved mood.3,4,5 Walking, in particular, has many benefits. It provides instant relief from stress and helps improve sleep.

We understand that sometimes, on a really tough day, it’s hard to even muster the energy to go out for a walk. But you just have to summon two seconds of determination and get up to put on your shoes. The remaining energy comes on its own.

4. Meet up with a friend in-person

Spending time with those you care about can make you happy.6

Friends and family tend to be kind and honest. They can provide an ear to listen to when you want to talk about your thoughts, stories, and feelings.

If you are particularly feeling down, an outdoor meet up with a loved one would definitely lift your spirits.

5. Combine these lifestyle changes and make it a weekly routine

Combine all these lifestyle suggestions into one event! 

Set down your phone and take a walk outside with a friend. Breathe the fresh air, get some exercise, enjoy the sun, and appreciate time away from screens. 

Try and make this a routine. Grow your relationships, improve your mood, and get some exercise all at once!

Nutrition changes to improve mood and reduce stress 

Nutrition changes to improve mood and reduce stress 
Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

1. Drink only one glass of wine

Many people enjoy wine with dinner, and you may have even heard that drinking wine has health benefits. 

However, excessive and regular alcohol consumption can negatively impact your mood and lead to many other health-related issues.6,7

Drink in moderation. To help with this, try drinking your normal glass of wine near the end of your meal. This may make it less tempting to continue drinking.

2. Opt for a low carb meal

High carbohydrate consumption, mainly processed carbohydrate consumption, can increase your risk of developing depression and anxiety. 

One study speculates that this could be because of rapid increases and decreases in blood sugar.8

Learn about balancing carbohydrates with healthy fats and proteins to maintain balanced blood sugar levels. 

3. Consider your gut health and eat some fermented foods

Recent research suggests an intrinsic relationship between the brain and the gut.9 Thus, your gut health can impact your mood.

The gut needs a healthy microbiome of bacteria, which can be supported by consuming fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and yoghurt.9 

Consider adding some fermented foods as side dishes to your meals, or give kombucha a try!

4. Swap your regular ‘go-to’ protein with fish

Our body needs Omega-3 fatty acids, but our bodies cannot make these nutrients on their own. Therefore, we need to get omega-3 fatty acids through our diet. 

Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of depression and lead to an improved mood.10,11

Consider eating more salmon, or other fatty fish, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids. 

5. Drink water between meals

Did you know that dehydration can impact your mood?12 

It can also make you feel more tired and also lead to constipation.13 Both fatigue and constipation can be frustrating and challenging to cope with, leading to poor mood and increased stress.

It can be easy to forget to drink water when you’re on the go. Try and bring a water bottle with you everywhere so you can drink water between meals!

Supplements to improve mood and reduce stress 

1. Consider an Ashwagandha supplement

If you haven’t heard about Ashwagandha, now is your chance. Health blogs are gushing about this popular supplement!

In short, Ashwagandha is a plant native to Asia and Africa that contains multiple chemicals that bring about feelings of calmness.14 There are studies that support the fact that Ashwagandha has stress-relieving effects.15

It is sometimes used for conditions like insomnia and anxiety too.14 However, evidence in this area is lacking, and more research is needed. 

Consider taking an Ashwagandha supplement. It may help reduce stress and improve overall mood. 

2. Supplement a healthy diet with B vitamins

Vitamin B helps our cells function correctly, contributing to metabolism and even the production of DNA. Additionally, vitamin-B 12 may also be linked to depression.16

We generally get our quota of vitamin B by consuming foods – eggs, dairy, and leafy greens. However, some people, like vegans or older people, may still be deficient in this important vitamin and hence it is necessary to take it in the form of a supplement.

3. Supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids

As previously mentioned, we need omega-3 fatty acids for our bodies to function properly. But, we only get them through diet.

If you are not able to get the required amount of omega-3 via diet, consider taking a supplement. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements support cell function and also improve your mood.

4. Consider taking a vitamin D supplement 

Various mood disorders, including depression, have been associated with low levels of vitamin D.18 

Consider supplementing a healthy diet with vitamin D if you are missing this key nutrient in your diet or if you find it challenging to spend time in the sun.

How can you improve your mood with the ElevateMe Health App?

As you can see, mood is influenced by many things and there are quite a few actions that you can take to improve them!

These quick wins are brilliant and can give you quick results if you incorporate them into your life. However, note that we are all different. Try some of these and see what works for you. 

ElevateMe-Health-App
Try the demo app for free to see what your personalised health plan will look like. Click here.

At ElevateMe, our blood test checks 12 biomarkers to assess your mood and stress. These biomarkers include cortisol, vitamin D, TSH, albumin, total protein, ALP, vitamin B-12, testosterone, GGT, folate, bilirubin, and ALT.

We create a personalised health plan for you that includes all quick wins and long-term strategies to improve your mood and overall health. Order an ElevateMe home blood test kit and join a community of people working to live life at their peak health.

Are you stressed? 

Did you know 74% of adults in the UK have experienced stress to a point where they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. 

Take an ElevateMe blood test today to capture 21 blood test insights and track your mood, sleep, fitness, energy, metabolism, cognition, and immunity.

ElevateMe Dashboard App

References

References

  1. Maras, D., Flament, M. F., Murray, M., Buchholz, A., Henderson, K. A., Obeid, N., et al. (2015). Screen time is associated with depression and anxiety in Canadian youth. Preventive Medicine. 73: 133-138. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.01.029
  2. Kim, S., Favotto, L., Halladay, J. et al. (2020). Differential associations between passive and active forms of screen time and adolescent mood and anxiety disorders. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 55:1469–1478. doi: 10.1007/s00127-020-01833-9
  3. Jump Start by WebMD. Mental Benefits of Walking. [Accessed 26 September 2021].
  4. Geniole, S. N., David, J. P. F., Euzébio, R. F. R., Toledo, B. Z. S., Neves, A. I. M., & McCormick, C. M. (2016). Restoring land and mind: The benefits of an outdoor walk on mood are enhanced in a naturalized landfill area relative to its neighboring urban area. Ecopsychology, 8 (2): 107-120. doi:10.1089/eco.2016.0005
  5. Stephenson, K. M., Schroder, C. M., Bertschy, G., & Bourgin, P. (2012). Complex interaction of circadian and non-circadian effects of light on mood: Shedding new light on an old story. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 16 (5): 445-454. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2011.09.002
  6. NHS. How to be happier. [Accessed 26 September 2021].
  7. Andreas Heinz, Karl Mann, Daniel R. Weinberger, David Goldman. (2006). Serotonergic Dysfunction, Negative Mood States, and Response to Alcohol. Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research. 25 (4): 487-495. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2001.tb02240.x
  8. Firth, J., Gangwisch, JE., Borsini, A., Wootton, RE., Mayer, EA. (2020). Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing? BMJ. 369 :m2382. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2382
  9. Martins, L. B., Braga Tibães, J. R., Sanches, M., Jacka, F., Berk, M., & Teixeira, A. L. (2021). Nutrition-based interventions for mood disorders. Null, 21 (3): 303-315. doi:10.1080/14737175.2021.1881482
  10. Giles, GE., Mahoney, CR., Kanarek, RB. (2013). Omega-3 fatty acids influence mood in healthy and depressed individuals. Nutr Rev. 71 (11) :727-41. doi: 10.1111/nure.12066. Epub 2013 Oct 22. PMID: 24447198.
  11. Bozzatello, P., Brignolo, E., De Grandi, E., Bellino, S. (2016). Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Psychiatric Disorders: A Review of Literature Data. J Clin Med. 5 (8): 67. doi: 10.3390/jcm5080067. PMID: 27472373; PMCID: PMC4999787.
  12. Ganio, M., Armstrong, L., Casa, D., McDermott, B., Lee, E., Yamamoto, L., Lieberman, H., et al. (2011). Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men. British Journal of Nutrition. 106 (10): 1535-1543. doi:10.1017/S0007114511002005
  13. NHS Inform. Constipation. [Accessed 26 September 2021].
  14. WebMD. Ashwagandha – Overview. [Accessed 26 September 2021].
  15. Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Malvi, H., & Kodgule, R. (2019). An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine, 98(37), e17186. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186
  16. Hall-Flavin, DK. Mayo Clinic. Vitamin B-12 and depression. Are they related? [Accessed 26 September 2021]. 
  17. Xu, Y., Ku, BS., Yao, HY., Lin, YH., Ma, X., Zhang, YH., Li XJ. (2005). The effects of curcumin on depressive-like behaviors in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 518 (1): 40-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2005.06.002. PMID: 15987635.
  18. Högberg, G., Gustafsson, S. A., Hällström, T., Gustafsson, T., Klawitter, B., & Petersson, M. (2012). Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation: Depressed adolescents and vitamin D status. Acta Pædiatrica (Oslo), 101(7), 779–783. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02655.x
How To Improve Mood and Reduce Stress - A Daily Checklist

Written by Lily Larsen

I recently completed my Master's degree in Public Health from Imperial College London and have a BSc in Chemistry. I'm passionate about improving the health of populations, and I hope to help people live their healthiest life!

10/10/2021

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