We’ve all had those days when we feel low; those dark times when it seems that no matter what people around us say or do we just can’t seem to lift our spirits. It may seem that during these dark sombre episodes the only way to escape them is to just wait it out until our mood improves.
But when we follow that pattern we allow our mood to control us, when I believe we should in fact be controlling our mood. Using hypnosis we can control many of our natural brain functions whether we believe it or not. For instance, if we can overcome fears, phobias and anxieties or change eating habits that were originally caused by external triggers, why can’t we control our own inner thought processes and mood swings in the same way? Well, I believe we can regain control…
You may be reading this and thinking “When I feel like that nothing can help me”, but let’s look at three natural activities that have a proven beneficial effect on mood; every one of them has helped me personally…
EXERCISE: Now, the mere mention of that word may strike fear into many of you reading this. It may even trigger childhood memories of dodgy PE teachers wearing ill-fitting tracksuits shouting at you or it may remind you of the time you joined that gym and began to sweat when you saw the first direct debit on your bank statement! But, exercise can actually be fun, believe me… One of the best forms of exercise is something that, thankfully most are blessed with a natural ability to do: walking! If you can walk you’re lucky so just move you’re a** in some way and do something you enjoy. Dance or jump about the house when you can! (Close the curtains first please)
Research says that doing some physical activity that requires any kind of endurance causes the pituitary gland to release endorphins; these chemicals produce overall feelings of euphoria and well-being. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “The last time I attempted to run on a treadmill I definitely didn’t experience feelings of euphoria.” But, the beneficial effects after you train can be wonderful. This is sometimes referred to as ‘runner’s high’ and has been known to cause athletes to constantly push themselves harder so they can continue to experience that sensation. Raising our heart rate also helps with serotonin levels, which we’ll talk about next…
TOUCH: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends signals to our brain and regulates our moods… The levels of this can determine if we’re happy or sad and any imbalance has been linked to depression and obesity. But, the good news is, we can actually control these levels naturally! So, what can we do then?
Well, as I stated already, performing any physical activity that raises our heart rate is wonderful for increasing serotonin levels, so you will benefit yet again by exercising! Another activity that helps keep serotonin levels high is good old fashioned hugging! Yes, it’s true; hugging someone releases stress, alters dopamine levels (which can cause aggression and anger) and makes us feel better within. So get hugging your loved ones and pets! Get out there and HUG! However, I would not advise you walk up and hug strangers in the street without their consent!
SOUND & VISION: “If music be the food of love, play on”, old Willy Shakespeare wrote a long time ago. And he did have a point; some music can move us, play with our emotions, relax us and motivate us. There are certain songs that stay in our subconscious for many years and may trigger a distant memory or feeling instantly when we hear them played again.
During those low days I believe it’s very important to play music that is relaxing yet uplifting to you. And no matter what type of music you listen to, make sure it’s music that makes that tickles your subconscious and makes you go “mmm”. This combined with colours or pictures that visually make you feel good in your surroundings will create the perfect ambience to help those serotonin levels increase and induce relaxation.
DIET: This is one of the most important weapons in our arsenal to fight off those feelings. When we feel down and those serotonin levels are low, our body then has a natural tendency to crave carbohydrate rich foods, which do increase the levels and tend to make us feel better temporarily but as many know, ingesting a lot of ‘carbs’ can also result in weight gain, which then of course results in even more low moods! The key here is balance: Our bodies require carbohydrates for energy and if you’re exercising regularly, a healthy intake of ‘complex’ carbs, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice/pasta, is crucial, but do eat healthily, lay off the booze a little and try to consume high protein snacks instead. Eggs in particular have been known to raise serotonin levels.
Lastly, I personally advise people to try and get a good sleep at night and meditate as much as possible. I realise how difficult it can be to take a few minutes away from this busy modern life we all live and I don’t expect any of my clients to sit cross legged in some quiet temple contemplating life. But physically, mentally -and most importantly to me- spiritually, I believe we need to take a few minutes away from everything once or twice a week at least and just allow our minds to have a break. Whether you like it or not, you are connected to everything around you and will benefit from tuning in to nature and tuning out of the hustle and bustle of life now and again. As the saying goes ‘We are human beings, not human doings, so just be.’ And, family, friends and work colleagues can wait an extra 10 minutes; most ‘important’ issues in work and life can wait too. Unless it’s a life or death situation it can wait!
It’s all very simple really: take care of your body and mind, make the best of your time as a living breathing part of the Universe, work those endorphins and serotonin levels and you will soon see that everyone and everything in your life will benefit from a happier, healthier you. I did!
© Tom Rannachan 2012