This post was most recently updated on March 30th, 2020
Life’s chaotic at times and you may feel rundown and in need of a recharge. Here I cover how to re-energize yourself the wild way – using the best mood enhancers from nature.
Why Natural Is Better?
Three reasons why nature is better: One, it can save you money; two, it saves the environment; and three, it fits with the design of your body.
- Nature’s ways can save you money
- Nature’s ways save the environment
- They fit the design of your body
People spend enormous amounts of hard earned money on trying to feel better!
In fact, Americans as a whole spend over $11 Billion a year on just this.
How We Deal With Stress
One way we deal with stress is to escape.
Consumerism is a modern way to escape in a stressed society – Shopping to ease stress can be addictive and harmful not just your wallet, but also the environment through the waste of resources.
While buying something new gives a quick ‘feel good’ dose of well-being, that mood boost doesn’t last and needs to be repeated at a larger scale (and cost) to get the next fix. This is how addictions work.
So the spending and debt worries among other unwanted side-effects worsen the stress. Thus, dealing with life pressures naturally is important.
Feeling rundown And stressed?
If you are feeling rundown and stressed, this needs attention! Stress affects heart health.1 But, not only does it affect your physical health, It also disrupts your confidence, quality of life, and relationships!
Below, you’ll find my list of ways to naturally feel better…How to boost your body’s natural mood enhancers.
My other article on this topic to check out is how to use your senses to calm the chaos.
Four Natural Mood Enhancers
Your body is designed to produce chemicals (those ‘happy chemicals’) to combat the stresses of life.
What are the natural mood enhancers? The four main natural mood enhancers are dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. I explain more about these four that our body produces in my article on how to get a dose of your body’s ‘happy chemicals’ for feeling better.
Below, I describe the role of each.
Dopamine for Motivation
Dopamine helps you feel: bliss, pleasure, motivation, and euphoria.
It plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Feeling rewarded helps boost your dopamine levels.
So, if you’re lacking energy or zest for life, give yourself a treat as a reward for an achievement.
It doesn’t have to bust your budget.
How to feel rewarded? The ultimate is a rewarding job. But, that doesn’t always cut it.
So, a hobby or interest that fires you up can be more satisfying and rewarding. I’ve listed more ways below in the ‘8 Ways to Get a free DOSE’ to feel better.
Oxytocin for Feeling Loved
Oxytocin is the love or bonding hormone. A sign of an oxytocin deficiency is aggression. This natural mood enhancer is a natural antidepressant also. It helps build trust and attachment between individuals
A downside of oxytocin is that it can foster social behaviors, like when groups are ‘clicky’ or there’s an air of arrogance about them (and bullying also).
Being on the ‘outer’ of any clicky circle makes me feel I don’t belong and of being awkwardly ‘different’. This is opposite to what most of us want.
So, oxytocin is complicated and has a dark side, but knowing so helps. We all want to free the anxiety in our lives, right?
Serotonin for Confidence
Yep, it is important in helping you feel confident.
Feeling Lonely? Unloved?
If you are deficient in serotonin you may feel an unhealthy desire to seek attention. Serotonin flows when we are feeling appreciated and feel a belonging.
Try reflecting on past accomplishments as this can activate serotonin.
Serotonin regulates your appetite. And, like other biochemicals, your body synthesizes serotonin when you are asleep. Hence, the importance of a sound night’s sleep. But then, if you are low on serotonin, you’re likely having trouble sleeping, right? Yeah, it’s a catch 22.
Also…How to fight depression? Answer: Boost your serotonin levels.
As well as your mood, this feel good chemical improves your ability to learn and recall.
Endorphins for Dealing With Pain
This natural mood enhancer is sometimes referred to as the ‘happiness drug’.
Endorphins are opioid neuropeptides. They allow us to operate at high levels in extremes.
If you’re feeling emotionally sensitive and suffering chronic pain, you could be low on endorphins.
I’ve included ways of naturally boosting your endorphins below.
How We Get These Mood Boosters Naturally
Here I call the ‘happy chemical’ quartet, DOSE – meaning Dopamine-Oxytocin-Serotonin-Endorphin (D O S E).
Below are some ideas on how to get a stress-busting DOSE package for free. This may mean tweaking your lifestyle and forming some new daily habits, which may take some practice. But the practice will reap you wellness rewards.
1. Interacting with Others
Most people will say that receiving a gift or some niceness makes them feel better. The same applies to the act of giving or positively interacting with others.
What this does is boost your Oxytocin levels – D O S E.
Here are examples of how to get a boost of this mood enhancer:
- Enjoy a massage or rub
- Cuddle, hold hands
- Do random acts of kindness
Remember, oxytocin enhances mood, relieves anxiety, and is about building trust and attachment.
2. Eat ‘Feel Better’ Food
Boost your Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins – D O S E through healthy eating.
Not only is diet important for weight loss, it also serves our mental health. For this, consider including in your diet foods containing nutrients and vitamins for mood and stress. Here are examples:
- Protein-rich foods that contain L-tyrosine for dopamine
- Broad beans (Vicia faba) and Mucuna pruriens (velvet beans) for L-DOPA, a precursor to dopamine
- Teas for L-theanine, which increases dopamine and serotonin
- Curcumin 2, in turmeric
- Magnesium rich foods, such as spinach, almonds, and black beans
- Food with mood boosting Vitamins B6, 9, & 12
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil and fish
- Pineapples, eggs, salmon, turkey, and other foods rich in tryptophan. Mixing high-tryptophan foods with carbs is thought to give you a serotonin boost.
- Dark chocolate (organic cacao is best), capsaicin in chili, and ginseng help boost endorphins
Note: The process of eating alone stimulates the release of oxytocin, which enhances mood, relieves anxiety, and builds trust and attachment.
It is important to eat the right foods for mental alertness, learning, attention, concentration, and confidence. I wrote about foods and the gut brain connection in my article on how we benefit from good digestive health.
3. Relax and Reflect to Feel Better
This will help boost your Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphins – D O S E
Here’s a list of ways.
- Spend time reflecting on past achievements
- Find a cozy cushion and meditate
- Practice yoga stretches
- Daily gratitude journaling
- Sit in nature, the park or your garden and watch the wildlife (includes the tiniest)
- Lie on your back and watch the clouds in the sky
These all help with quality of life, with mood and best of all, sleep.
4. Get Some Sun Daily to Boost Your Mood
Also for upping your Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphins – D O S E
Here are a few tips on how to do this:
- Spend 7-20 mins in the sunshine having coffee or lunch at least 3 days a week
- Duration should be pre-sunburn, varying with skin type and UV*
- Get outdoors for a walk in the sunshine (but avoid the hot midday sun during harsh conditions and beware of the risks of too much sun exposure)
5. Feel Rewarded to Feel Better
This is primes your Dopamine – D O S E.
How to do this? Try these:
- Set a series of small milestones followed by rewards on every completion
- Draft a to-do list and cross off tasks as they are completed
- Journal each day and make a note of even the smallest accomplishment – use guided journals that feature supportive prompts, lists, questions, and exercises to encourage you to write about matters of the heart
6. Get Outdoors for Nature’s Happy Chemicals
This will help boost Serotonin levels – D O S E.
Some tips to get this mood booster:
- Try the forest, mountains, or head to the beach for negative air ions in nature
- Get outside and connect with the landscape for the phytoncides (aromatic compounds of trees and plants) and natural essential oils
- Listen to sounds and scenes of landscapes, birds, waterfalls, lakes, beaches, etc.
7. Laugh Out Loud to Feel Better
This will help boost Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphins – D O S E.
Try these for a laugh:
- Share funny stories of your last outing
- Get creative with photos and video shots
- Subscribe to a daily email that makes you laugh
8. Exercise Regularly to Beat Stress
This ups the Endorphins – D O S E.
Joining gyms and fitness training programs is popular and a way of boosting our natural endorphins to overcome symptoms of stress.
Here’s a list of things you can do, but there are many others I bet you can think of.
- Walk, run along nature trails or the beach
- Climb that mountain
- Cycle to the wider outdoors
- Go hiking
- Try yoga
- Stretch, yawn even
Feeling run down with age?
As we age we face certain psychological changes and challenges.
Getting a decent night’s sleep can become more elusive with age. Anxiety can also rise similar to how depression plagues teenagers.
Natural endorphin production tends to decline with age, contributing to inertia. This means we are less inclined to get moving as we age and so daily exercise can be a struggle.
Keeping active is vital because it helps us gain a restful and sound sleep at night, and in turn, helps boost energy levels.
If you are a woman, you might suffer mood and energy downers due to fluctuations in estrogen levels. The serotonin ups and downs can wreak havoc on your cognitive abilities and relationships.
Being a mum ‘juggling it all’, you might be looking for support in this regard
Or, if you are at the menopausal stage of life, you might be looking for ways to overcome depression. 5
Nature’s Way of Helping
We get vitamin D3 from UVB rays hitting our skin when we are outside in the sunshine and this naturally increases serotonin.3
It benefits our sleeping habits. Some sunshine in the morning sets your biological clock to get a good night’s sleep.
The effectiveness of this process, however, declines as we mature because of our skin aging and having factors that undermine Vitamin D levels, like less of what converts the UVB light into the vitamin D precursor.
Vitamin D3 For Mood
So, vitamin D is one of those vitamins to improve mood, especially if you have trouble accessing sunlight because of location or age.
Especially as we age we can do with this supplement, since our skin loses its ability to take in the goodness of vitamin D from sunlight as we mature.
Tryptophan For Serotonin
The amino acid tryptophan can also help with serotonin production. Our bodies can’t manufacture tryptophan and hence it is essential to our diets. I
This natural mood booster, tryptophan is found in flaxseed oil, bananas, pineapples, plums, turkey, and milk. Combining carbohydrates with these foods in meals enhances the uptake of tryptophan. Adding flaxseed oil to your diet every day can help improve your mood.
Curcumin To Beat Fatigue
Wanting to feel energized?
How to reduce fatigue? How to feel energetic? What helps with fatigue?
If you are looking for natural remedies for fatigue, try curcumin.2, 3
Science studies show that curcumin does “possess antidepressant activity through modulating the release of serotonin and dopamine”. 2 So, not only does it answer how to get rid of fatigue but also serves as one of the natural ways to help depression.
Dopamine helps with feeling energized. Certain foods help produce dopamine, like protein-rich foods with L-Tyrosine and curcumin found in turmeric (see above).
L-Tyrosine is another element said to provide neurotransmitter support and improve mental alertness.
Stress is basically a disconnection from the Earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.Natalie Goldberg
Summing It Up
Stress depletes our reserves of feel-good chemicals, as does over-prescription of addictive practices. We need to be charged and energized for traversing what life has to offer.
The ultimate is to feel better naturally.
Start using natural remedies to reduce stress and apply or practice getting fixes of natural daily. It will save you heartache and dollars in the long run.
What are Your Thoughts On Natural Mood Enhancers?
Feel free to comment below.
- Stress and Heart Health. heart.org
- Kulkarni SK, Dhir A. An Overview of Curcumin in Neurological Disorders. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2010;72(2):149-154.
- Huang W-C, Chiu W-C, Chuang H-L, et al. Effect of Curcumin Supplementation on Physiological Fatigue and Physical Performance in Mice. Nutrients. 2015;7(2):905-921. doi:10.3390/nu7020905.
- Humble, Mats B. (2010). Vitamin D, light and mental health, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, Volume 101, Issue 2, Pages 142-149, ISSN 1011-1344, https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2010.08.003.
- Epperson, C. N., Amin, Z., Ruparel, K., Gur, R., & Loughead, J. (2012). Interactive Effects of Estrogen and Serotonin On Brain Activation During Working Memory and Affective Processing in Menopausal Women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(3), 372–382.