Attitude Adjustments

  • Choose to be happy and try thinking cheery thoughts. Smile more often, as studies suggest it promotes happiness.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Appreciate everything in your life and look for the silver lining in all situations.
  • Live in the moment and avoid dwelling on the past or planning to be happy in the future.
  • Find inner peace and happiness; do not wait for outside circumstances to provide you with happiness.

Nutritional Boosts

Eat meals and snacks every few hours to maintain stable blood sugar levels and choose foods with mood-boosting power including the following:
  • Foods high in vitamin B complex, such as grains like brown rice, oatmeal and wheat germ, as they are good sources of all the B vitamins except for B-12. B vitamins create neurotransmitters that have a calming effect.      
  • Foods high in B-12, like salmon, trout and fortified whole-grain cereals, can help prevent depression, and foods high in folate, such as spinach, citrus fruits, dairy products and fortified whole-grain cereals, can control anxiety. Both of these vitamins break down homocysteine, a protein building block that might cause depression and anxiety when its levels become too high.
  • Foods high in inositol, also known as vitamin B-8, like navy and lima beans, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and whole grains, help neurotransmitters perform properly which reduces anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
  • Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon and mackerel, increase the amount of and sensitivity to serotonin, a chemical which helps relay messages to different parts of the brain that seems to alleviate depression and elevate mood.
  • Foods high in magnesium, such as halibut, almonds, cashews, soybeans and spinach, help improve energy levels and activate B-complex vitamins. Further, a magnesium deficiency can damage nerves, causing depression.  
  • Foods high in protein, such as poultry, particularly turkey, low-fat dairy products, nuts, beans, lean meats and eggs, will increase your intake of tryptophan, a protein building block that helps prevent depression.
  • Dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao because it releases endorphins which are “feel-good” hormones. Be sure to read the package and limit the amount to one serving size, as chocolate is high in calories and fat.
  • Foods considered low on the glycemic scale, such as fruits (berries, cherries and plums), whole-grain breads and cereals, dairy products, vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and red peppers) and desserts (pound cake, baked apples and dark chocolate), as these foods may help control blood sugar levels which often affect mood swings and depression. 
  • Foods high in calcium, such as dairy products and green leafy vegetables, support numerous functions including hormone secretion. Research suggests that a calcium deficiency can cause agitation, depression, insomnia and irritability.
  • Foods with potassium, such as lima beans, potatoes and bananas, contribute to the proper functioning of the nervous system and can help control depression.
  • Green tea contains L-Theanine, a building block of protein that increases alpha brain waves, promoting relaxation while retaining mental alertness.
  • Decaffeinated beverages since caffeine can promote anxiety and nervousness and interfere with the absorption of nutrients that help balance moods.

Chemical Influences

  • Limit alcoholic beverages, as they are depressants that slow brain activity. And while beer, wine and liquor can ease anxiety, they can contribute to depression.
  • Avoid nicotine because it is both a mild stimulant and depressant. As a stimulant, nicotine raises heart rates, blood pressure and levels of alertness, concentration and anxiety. As a depressant, nicotine calms the limbic system, one of the brain’s emotional centers. Nicotine causes a slight rise in blood sugar, providing increased energy; however, once worn off, it leaves a smoker feeling fatigued, depressed and craving more nicotine.

Lifestyle Impacts

  • Find time for daily physical activity. Exercise is used to control depression and anxiety because during a workout, our brains release endorphins that function as natural antidepressants. Also, the rise in core body temperature seems to have a calming effect. Consider walking and/or yoga, as these activities also seem to have a calming effect, which can help to control depression and modulate the stress response systems.
  • Manage stress by finding a hobby that enables you to relax and take your mind off your worries, and carve out time each day to relax, practice breathing exercises or meditate.
  • Get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Sleeplessness can be a major contributor to stress and depression.
Although the basis of happiness varies among people, the impact it has on our quality of life and health is universal. Participating in activities that relieve stress, bring us joy and help us reach personal goals can lead to happiness, as can working with your MDVIP-affiliated physician. He/she can guide you in recognizing depression, anxiety or sleeping issues so you receive the treatment you need to feel your best.

For more insights on happiness, click onto this MDVIP Connect article, Feeling Blue? Tips to Feel Better with a Healthy Attitude.