This is my bounty from the farmer’s market this weekend. Mother nature sure knows how to do it right. Gorgeous colors and delicious to boot. Boy do I love connecting with my hommies that a farmer’s market. Buying my food from them makes grocery shopping as fun as connecting with friends:) Yesterday we chatted in my post The Happiness Advantage about the connection between happiness and being productive. In the post we talked about dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for our feelings of excitement, happiness as well as motivating us towards achieving goals. The post spoke about how certain personality types are more prone to having increased levels of dopamine which makes them naturally happier and more apt to work towards achievements and goals. But what if you are not naturally engineered in this way? What if happiness does overflow on a regular basis and working towards achievement of goals comes with a great deal of struggle? These are the thoughts I was having after posting yesterday. So I thought we needed a follow up. Rather than reaching for the quickest fix, how can we naturally boost dopamine in our system?
Diet is a key component to increasing feelings of wellness in the mind and body. In particular, foods high in tyrosine boosts dopamine in the brain. Almonds, avocados, bananas, Lima beans, sesame and pumpkin seeds, steroid and antibiotic free meats and poultry all are high in tyrosine. Increasing your intake of foods high in antioxidants such as berries (mmmm local blueberries in the summer:), citrus fruits, etc. Foods high in Vitamin C such as peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries and brussel sprouts boost dopamine. As do foods high in Vitamin E such as nuts, sunflower seeds, greens, broccoli and carrots as well as beta carotene which is a phytonutrient found in greens, broccoli, orange veggies and fruits, asparagus and beets. Decreasing and cutting out foods that zap energy and dopamine such as all processed food, caffeine, sugar, high fatty foods and wheat. While dairy will boost dopamine, it can cause congestion in the body so therefore should be minimized or cut out of diet. While chocolate is known to increase good feelings, it also is high in sugar so therefore should be eaten sparingly. The darker the chocolate, the less processed it is and therefore less sugar. You will want to work towards lessen the quick fix so you can bolster your mood for the long haul. Changes in diet and lifestyle have been known to allow some people to be able to decrease and come off of psychotropic medication as they are now capable of boosting their mood naturally. More and more I have been hearing from people that they are tired of the side affects of their medications. With the rise of prescription meds happening now adays, we are taking meds for side affects of other meds. This makes the liver even more sluggish and guess what that means???? Your energy and mood plummet as your digestive tracks gets slower and slower. This will cause more illness which in turn will then….yup you got it right…have you taking more medications. So instead, let’s give Mother Nature a huge HALLELUJAH!
Next up is exercise. Moving the body, anyway you can every day for at least 30 minutes. Who doesn’t have 30 minutes a day? And that doesn’t even have to be 30 minutes straight, it can be accumulated over the day. Start where you are at and move forward from there. If you are working towards using exercise to boost mood, you will want to work up to doing more than 30 minutes most days of the week. If you sit most of your day, work in a trip up and down some stairs. Park your car further away from the entrance of a building so that you have to walk. Take the stairs whenever possible rather than elevators. There are many ways we can work in some form of exercise most days of the week without ever stepping foot in a gym. Exercising will help you get more zzzz’s which will help increase feelings of feeling good. Getting rest is as important as getting active. It can be hard to prioritize rest, I know, but it is very important. The yin is as important as the yang. They support each other. Incorporating meditation into your day will help boost good feelings and keep you in a calmer overall mood. The most important natural way to boost dopamine is through engaging in pleasurable activities. Spend time with people you love. Nurture your relationships. Nurture things that make you feel amazing. Try something new. Putting adventure into your every day is key. We often allow life to live us holding off on adventure for when that week or two of vacation comes every year. Instead of withholding pleasure and stewing in your stress, find little things that boost your mood and feel fun that you can do on the go. Like having a good cup of tea for instance:) Swing on a swing, watch funny videos on YouTube, meet up with a friend on a school night or just do whatever gives you more shits and giggles. Adventure can come from taking a long car ride to a new place or somewhere you love. But it can also come in putting down the work, going out, taking a breath of fresh air and watching pigeons strut:) That’s one of my favs on work days!
There are little simple ways we can boost that feel good chemistry in our brain every day in every way. Keeping it simple is important. There is not quick fix to feeling better. But there are some simple steps you can take to begin to feel better naturally. And for those control freaks out there, yup I can fall into that group too, taking control of your health is one thing you actually can control! So go ahead, chop on a local carrot from the farmer’s market, take a break, smell a rose and be playful with those you love. You will then be on your way to feeling better all on your own! Love that!