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Keep it real: Natural ways to boost your well-being

Tuesday, January 26th 2021, 9:48 am - Here are some easy ways to brighten your day.

Maybe it was the sunlight drenching my home office, or the 90s music playing in the background, but I started my morning looking for ways to 'keep it real.'

I don't think I'm the only person craving authenticity right now. We've lived through a lot these past few months and my time in isolation, combined with months of not being able to see friends and family members I care about deeply, has inspired me to be more forthcoming with my feelings and to be more present in the moment. I've been trying to let my 'authentic self' -- both the good and the bad -- shine through in conversations with others and in my day-to-day activities, like in this article I am currently typing out.

Things are not normal, and they haven't been for some time. In June, the American Physical Association (APA) penned an article on the importance of self-care, now more than ever. Part of that involves listening to yourself, relaxing, and being patient with yourself and with others.

In other words: Be real.

And, since we're The Weather Network, we'd be remiss if we failed to mention some of the natural ways you can boost your mood, protect your mental health, and put you in a state of mind where you can put your most authentic self forward.

Here they are in no particular order:

1) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PLANTS

A 2015 study found plants can help reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being, and separate research found gardening can be therapeutic, helping ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

If you're new to gardening, you're in luck. We recently put together an ultimate guide to caring for houseplants in the winter.

2) HANG OUT WITH SOME BIRDS

There's ample evidence that being in nature is good for your mental health and now a new, German-based study suggests that may have something to do with birds.

The paper looked at the link between biodiversity and happiness on a Europe-wide scale and found that more bird species in a person's vicinity can increase life satisfaction as much as a higher income.

3) LET THE SUNSHINE IN

Exposure to sunlight is believed to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin, which is associated with feelings of happiness.

Sunlight also helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which keeps our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

If the sun has been hiding in your neighbourhood, you can supplement with a vitamin. You'll also want to indulge in fatty fish -- like salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines -- as well as butter, eggs, and mushrooms. All of these foods are excellent sources of the 'sunshine vitamin.'

Food products that often have vitamin D added include orange juice, cereals, soy milk, and dairy. Check the food labels to see if it's vitamin D fortified.

Light therapy is another route you can take, which has long been used to treat the 'winter blues'.

It's an evidence-based treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), that works by mimicking natural light. And it may be useful year-round.

According to a 2015 study, light therapy alone or in combination with antidepressants may be effective means of treating adults with nonseasonal major depressive disorder (MDD).

Pexels - happy woman You deserve to be happy! Image courtesy Asa Dugger/Pexels.

4) DRINK WATER

A 2018 survey suggests as much as 80 per cent of working Americans forget to drink water throughout the day and over time, this can lead to decreased concentration, headaches, and lethargy.

On the other hand, drinking water throughout the day is associated with better concentration, a happier mood, and boosts to your memory.

5) BE KIND.

One of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves, and others is kindness.

Here are some easy ways to practice kindness, courtesy of Mental Health America:

  • Take a walk when you need it.
  • Check in on your friends and family.
  • Watch a video that makes you laugh.
  • Be patient with yourself. You won't always get things right, and that's OK.
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