4 Ways to Help Prevent Alcohol From Affecting Your Mood

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4 Ways to Help Prevent Alcohol From Affecting Your Mood

By DrinkAware.co.uk

  1. Use exercise and relaxation to tackle stress instead of alcohol.
  2. Learn breathing techniques to try when you feel anxious.
  3. Talk to someone about your worries. Don’t try and mask them with alcohol.
  4. Always be aware of why you’re drinking. Don’t assume it will make a bad feeling go away, it’s more likely to exaggerate it.

 

If you would like help with alcohol and/or mood struggles, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a life coach or a counselor.

6 Mental Health Benefits of Plants

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6 Mental Health Benefits of Plants: Does Flower Power Boost Your Mood?

By Dr. Adam Simon

We all know that flowers and plants have the power to make people happy. They can delight you on a special occasion, cheer you up when you’re sad or make a dull, dreary room much more appealing.

But what is it about flowers that puts you in a good mood? And do they really have that much influence over your mental health?

Our smart network of UK doctors have shared a few facts for you to bear in mind next time you’re buying a bunch for your home, or for someone you care about.

1. Flowers can improve anxiety

Stress and anxiety are part of everyday life. According to mental health charity Mind, 6% of the UK population experienced anxiety issues in 2016.

While there are many things you can do to manage your mental health, flowers can help restore some short-term calm to your situation.

It turns out that this is true even in very worrying situations. A 2008 study found that hospital patients who had flowers in their room felt less anxious. They were also more positive about their recovery and needed less post-operative care than patients without plants.

Before you turn up at your loved one’s bedside with a huge bouquet, it’s worth noting that many hospitals don’t allow flowers on wards. This is due to issues such as mould, hay fever and lack of space.

However, there’s nothing to stop you filling your home and garden with beautiful blooms to take your mind off things.

Have some in your bedroom to create a calming environment when you go to sleep and when you wake up, or make space for a plant in your study to help you keep a handle on work-related stress.

2. Flowers can help you sleep

Sleeping properly is really important. In fact, it’s so important that we’ve already written a whole post about it. So, where do plants come into it?

When it comes to sleep, we’re going to focus on one flower in particular. The smell of lavender is proven to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which will help you to relax. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to drift off into a restful sleep.

Obviously, lavender can’t cure insomnia on its own, but it can certainly help as part of your bedtime routine.

3. Flowers can improve your memory

Specifically, rosemary can sharpen your powers of recall.

In 2015, researchers conducted a very interesting experiment, in which participants went into one of three rooms and completed a memory test. One room smelt of rosemary, one of lavender and the other wasn’t given a specific scent.

Each participant had to look at a series of objects hidden around the room and remember them for later. The project tested the impact of different smells on ‘future memory’ – in other words, how much you remember to remember.

In real-life terms, this could be posting a letter you wrote yesterday, or paying your bills on time.

The people in the rosemary-scented room scored highest in this test. The lavender room scored significantly lower, presumably because the people here were far too relaxed and sleepy to keep up with everything!

4. Flowers can change your emotions with colours

We all associate colours with different moods. Red can mean love, anger or danger. Yellow is usually associated with happiness and sunshine. Blue can signify calm or sadness.

Green is linked to safety, which could explain why having lots of leafy plants around creates such a comfortable environment.

On top of this, we each have our own personal relationships with colours that can bring to mind a happy or sad memory and influence our reactions.

Suddenly, choosing the colour of your flowers becomes a bigger decision than you thought! Of course, it’s also a great chance to create a particular emotion or feeling in whoever will receive the flowers.

5. Flowers can make you more productive

Studies have shown that offices with plants increase brain performance and encourage creativity.

Sparse, clean offices might look impressive to people passing through, but they don’t offer any visual stimulation for those that have to spend all day there, which could have an impact on productivity.

It’s not just workers, either. Studies have also shown the putting plants in classrooms and lecture halls increases attendance. It turns out that having plants around can make you happier and more attentive, wherever you are!

Going back to the idea of colour, red is connected to concentration and attention to detail, while blue is considered a better way to encourage creativity and free-thinking. So, if you notice a lot of plants with the same colour around your office, your boss might be trying to tell you something!

6. Gardening and your mental health

Why wait for someone to present you with flowers, when you could grow your own? We know that flowers can make you feel great and there’s also evidence that gardening itself can be good for your mental health.

A 2015 study found that 88% of people cited mental wellbeing as a reason for heading out into the garden. All that digging, planting and pruning provides fresh air and a sense of achievement.

Some people find value in having something to care for that relies on them to survive. Gardening is also an activity you can do as a group, such as tending a community garden, and spending time with friends and family is a sure-fire way to boost your mood.

If you would like more help in boosting your mood, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Who Controls Your Mood?

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Who Controls Your Mood?

By Dr. Daniel Amen

Who you spend time with matters.

When you are with positive, supportive, and loving people, you feel happier and more content, and you live longer. This is not only intuitively true but research has demonstrated it again and again. For example, in a study at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio, 10,000 men were asked, “Does your wife show you her love?” The detailed health histories of the men followed over ten years who answered yes showed fewer ulcers, less chest pain, and longer lives than those who answered no…

In our experience, a hallmark of unhappy people is that they have a tendency to surround themselves with negative people – with people who do not believe in them or their abilities, people who put them down, discourage them from their goals, and treat them as though they will never amount to anything. Surrounded by these types of people, you eventually get a clear message that you are no good.

Are you surrounded by people who believe in you and give you positive messages?

People who encourage you to feel good about yourself? Or do you spend time with people who are constantly putting you down and down playing your ideas? Who are the five people you spend the most time with? Are they positive or negative? The reasons people surround themselves with negativity are easy to understand. People who grow up in negative environments often grow up to be negative.

Past relationships have a real impact on present ones.

If your past relationships were filled with negativity, chances are your present and future relationships will be the same unless you make a conscious effort to overcome the past.

For the complete article, go to Who Controls Your Mood?

If you would like to  receive help with your mood, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

 

Sleep and Mood

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Sleep and Mood

By Harvard Medical School

sleepPoor sleep harms concentration.

You probably know firsthand that sleep affects mood. After a sleepless night, you may be more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. Once you sleep well, your mood often returns to normal.

Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.1

Not only does sleep affect mood, but mood and mental states can also affect sleep. Anxiety increases agitation and arousal, which make it hard to sleep. Stress also affects sleep by making the body aroused, awake, and alert. People who are under constant stress or who have abnormally exaggerated responses to stress tend to have sleep problems.

Insomnia and Psychological Problems

“There’s a big relationship between psychiatric and psychological problems and sleep. So people who are depressed or have anxiety often have trouble with sleep as part of those disorders,” says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Difficulty sleeping is sometimes the first symptom of depression. Studies have found that 15 to 20 percent of people diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression.2 While sleep research is still exploring the relationship between depression and sleep, studies have shown that depressed people may have abnormal sleep patterns.3

Sleep problems may, in turn, contribute to psychological problems. For example, chronic insomnia may increase an individual’s risk of developing a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety. In one major study of 10,000 adults, people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.4 Lack of sleep can be an even greater risk factor for anxiety. In the same study, people with insomnia were 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder (a type of anxiety disorder).5 Another study showed that insomnia is a reliable predictor of depression and many other psychiatric disorders, including all types of anxiety disorders.6

Addressing Sleep Problems Makes a Difference

If you sleep poorly and feel depressed, anxious, or less emotionally responsive, there are many treatments that can help. First, look at your sleep habits and see if there are steps that you can take on your own to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. See Adopt Good Sleep Habits for tips on how to improve your sleep. If problems persist, you may wish to see a medical provider and ask about an evaluation for sleep problems and mental health concerns. After an evaluation and diagnosis, your provider can advise you on the best course of treatment. Options may include behavioral or other forms of therapy and/or medications. You can read about and watch a video of a behavioral sleep consultation in the Healthy Sleep module.

Even if you do not have underlying sleep problems, taking steps to ensure adequate sleep will lead to improved mood and well-being. Sheila, a Boston district attorney and mother, became sleep deprived due to the conflicting demands of a full-time job and caring for her young children. She began to feel cranky, irritable, and uncharacteristically depressed. When she got both of her children on a consistent sleep schedule, she herself started sleeping an average of seven to eight hours a night and her mood improved considerably. Read more and watch a video about this in Sheila’s Balancing Act.

Dr. Amen’s Top 5 Good Mood Foods

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Dr. Amen’s Top 5 Good Mood Foods

By Dr. Daniel G. Amen, MD

food plateIf you want to feel your best and do your best thinking, you have to give your brain and body high-quality nutrition.  Certain foods offer an abundance of bliss-enhancing nutrients that can help you feel more relaxed and lift your mood, naturally.   Here are just 5 of my favorites:


1. Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate:
  Cacao beans—used to make chocolate—contain hundreds of blissful, health-promoting properties that support a positive mood, the natural ability to focus, and a healthy cardiovascular system.  One such property is a phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural chemical released by your brain when falling in love.


2. Raw Spinach:
  Dark leafy greens such as raw spinach, chard and kale are full of magnesium, an essential nutrient that encourages mind/body relaxation, decreased pain, better sleep, and so much more.  Substitute raw spinach anywhere you would use lettuce for an instant bliss-boost!


3. Lean, High-Quality Protein: 
Protein satiates, helps balance blood sugar and provides the necessary building blocks for brain health.  Eating a little bit of high-quality protein multiple times per day will help your brain produce dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter involved in pleasure, focus and motivation.

 

4. Walnuts:  Reminiscent of tiny brains, walnuts are the perfect on-the-go brain food!  They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient that supports healthy brain cell membranes.  Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids are wonderful for supporting a positive mood, the ability to get a good night’s sleep, a healthy memory, and so much more.


5. Saffron:  
Ancient cultures around the world have cherished saffron for centuries and have cultivated it for use as a culinary spice, digestion aid and mood-boosting aphrodisiac.  This vibrant-hued spice is known as the most expensive in the world—for good reason.  New research suggests that saffron may support healthy levels of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being.

 

8 Foods That Boost Your Mood

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8 Foods That Boost Your Mood

By Eat This, Not That!

It’s getting darker outside. For a lot of us, it seems like it’s getting darker inside, as well.

Since the clocks fell back, and the sun started going down right after lunch, a lot of people have been complaining about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s one of those conditions that comes with an acronym so perfect, you wonder if it’s even real. But doctors insist it is—and that it can even run in families.

SAD is a type of depression that sets in from fall to winter, and can make you feel like you’re trapped in the beginning of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The reduced level of sunlight we get after Daylight Savings Time creates a drop in the mood-boosting brain chemical serotonin and an imbalance in melatonin, another brain chemical regulating sleep and mood.

Fortunately, Eat This, Not That! has uncovered a handful of food swaps that hack your brain’s chemicals and reset your mood from foul to fair. In fact, just making a handful of tweaks to your diet as the days grow shorter can put a spring in your step long before spring is in the air. (And keep the good mood going by signing up for our newsletter and avoiding the winter weight with 5 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.)

1. Best Get-Happy Vegetable Swap

EAT THIS

Red Bell Peppers

3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.1 g protein, 0.5 g sugar

1 tbsp

NOT THAT!

Green Bell Pepper

3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.1 g protein, 0.4 g sugar

1 tbsp

Why red? Aren’t all peppers the same? In fact, red bell peppers—which have been allowed to ripen on the vine and not picked when still green—have considerably higher nutrient scores than their underdeveloped brethren—more than double the vitamin C and up to 8 times as much vitamin A. In a recent survey of nutrient density, researchers at William Patterson University ranked red peppers as second only to leafy greens as the most potent of vegetables. The higher concentration of vitamins helps to not only improve your mood directly, but to also boost your immune system and lessen cold syptoms. Stir-fry or roast them if you’re not down with nibbling them raw to get the most of theirvitamins and nutrients. (And find out why color also matters when choosing the Best Fruits for Fat Loss.)

2. Best Get-Happy Condiment Swap

EAT THIS

French’s mustard

0 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar

1 tbsp

NOT THAT!

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

90 calories, 10 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar

1 tbsp

Swap omega-6-heavy mayo for omega-3-loaded mustard and get an instant mental health boost. While essential, omega-6s are also inflammatory, and are linked to obesity, diabetes and depression. Mayonnaise, made from grain and seed oils, provides a whopping 11,359 mg of omega-6 per ounce. The humble yellow mustard, on the other hand, is among the top dozen or so sources of omega-3 acids, with nearly half as much, ounce per ounce, as canned tuna. A 2013 study in theJournal of Nutrition found that higher levels of omega-3s relative to omega-6s were linked to lower risks of depression.

3. Best Get-Happy Snack Swap

EAT THIS

Pumpkin Seeds

142 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, .3 g sugar

1/2 cup

NOT THAT!

Chex Mix Bold Party Blend

120 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 1.8 g sugar

1/2 cup

Pumpkin seeds are like crunchy little nuggets of Prozac Helper. They’re one of the best food sources of an amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps the production ofserotonin in your brain. Antidepressants help the brain to circulate serotonin, so if you’re taking them now, these little pumpkin pick-me-ups may make them even more effective. Spice them up and swap them in now for Chex Mix, which is made from wheat, corn, and vegetable oil, all of which are high in omega-6 fatty acids. A study found that those with the highest intake of omega-6 fatty acids have twice the risk of becoming depressed.

4. Best Get-Happy Candy Swap

EAT THIS

Lindt 85% Cocoa Bar

230 calories, 18 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 5 g protein, 5 g sugar

One serving (4 squares)

NOT THAT!

Hershey’s Special Dark

190 calories, 12 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 21 g sugar

One serving (one bar)

Dark chocolate perks up your brain in four different ways; it boosts serotonin and endorphins, the feel-good hormones; it’s rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are noted cognitive boosters; it contains small amounts of caffeine, which helps with short-term concentration; and it contains theobromine, a stimulant that delivers a different sort of buzz, minus the espresso shakes. As if that’s not enough, it’s also one of our 10 Libido-Lifting Foods (go ahead and click, no one’s watching and it’s SFW).

The catch: most treats labeled “dark chocolate” have had the healthy nutrients processed out of them. A product like Hershey’s Special Dark is made with alkalized, or “Dutch” chocolate, which destroys up to 75% of the healthy ingredients in the chocolate. Look for a bar that’s labeled “72% cacao” or above, even if the calorie count is a bit higher.

5. Best Get-Happy Drink Swap

DRINK THIS

Chamomile Tea

2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar

1 cup (8 oz)

NOT THAT!

Diet Soda

0 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar
1 cup (8 oz)

In summer, your body clock is like Dr. Dre—perfect beats. Once winter hits, the music gets all discombobulated. Your circadian rhythm is thrown off by the decrease of (natural) light, making it harder to sleep at night and to stay on top of your game during the day. Research shows that chamomile tea not only brings on better sleep, but actually improves your cognitive functioning during the day. Meanwhile, astudy last year linked soft drinks to depression, particularly the diet variety—those who drank more than four cans a day were 30% more likely to have had depression, due partly to the artificial sweetener aspartame. (For more cola shockers, click on our eye-popping Surprising Reasons to Finally Give Up Soda.)

6. Best Get-Happy Juice Swap

DRINK THIS

R.W. Knudsen Just Blueberry Juice

100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 18 g sugar

1 cup (8 oz)

NOT THAT!

V8 Splash Berry Blend

70 calories, 0g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 18g sugar

1 cup (8 oz)

Darkly-colored berries lead to weight loss, decreasing the formation of fat cells by up to 73%—that alone will improve your mood. But berries also carry heavy doses of vitamin C. Too little C—a possibility when you’re hunkering down on comfort foods and no longer enjoying a summer bounty of tomatoes, peppers and fruit salads—can lead to fatigue, depression, low motivation, and the general feeling that you’re sloshing around in wet snowboots 24/7. Avoid the imposter “juices”—V8 Splash is a pathetic 10 percent juice—and power up with R.W. Knudsen Just Blueberry. Add a glass in the AM, along with these 6 Morning Rituals That Guarantee a Great Day.

7. Best Get-Happy Appetizer Swap

EAT THIS

Outback Steakhouse Crab and Avocado Stack

547 calories, 31 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 17 g protein, 6 g sugar

NOT THAT!

Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion

1,959 calories, 161 g fat, 48 g saturated fat, 18 g protein, 28 g sugar

One platter of the Bloomin’ Onion has 113 grams of downer-inducing omega-6s. You could rename the appetizer the Wiltin’ Onion for its—no kidding—2 ½ shot glasses worth of vegetable oils. The Crab and Avocado Stack, on the other hand, provides mood-boosting omega-3s from the crab and cravings-crushing monounsaturated fats from the avocado. Astudy in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. (Avocado is also one of our 10 Foods for a Longer Life; click to see the other nine.)

8. Best Get-Happy Salad Swap

EAT THIS

Romaine salad with Vinaigrette

45 calories, 4.1 g fat, .6 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 1 g sugar
1 cup

NOT THAT!

Traditional Romaine Ceasar salad

184 calories, 15.3 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat, 5g protein, 1.3 g sugar
1 cup

Kale gets all the green-market glory, and everyone knows what spinach has done for Popeye, but humble Romaine lettuce tops them both in nutrient density, according to William Patterson University researchers. One of the main nutrients in Romaine and other leafy greens is the B vitamin folate. Recent Finnish research showed that low folate levels were found in depressed members of the population.

Unfortunately, proud Romaine is often downgraded to a veritable junk food when it’s paired up with commercial Caesar salad dressing, an oil-based bastardization of the traditional Italian recipe that’s one of the foods highest in depression-causing omega-6 acids. Lift your spirits by topping your salad with an olive oil vinaigrette, which boasts both heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and mood-boosting mustard seed.