Simple Ways to Brighten Your January

1. Take Your Vitamins

You probably hear it all the time, but daily vitamins really do improve your overall health. When it comes to your mood, vitamin D can help out a lot, especially in the colder months.

Despite its name, vitamin D is actually considered a pro-hormone, which means the body can produce its own with some help from sunlight (whereas vitamins are technically nutrients that can’t be synthesized by your body). So while vitamin D is naturally occurring within our bodies, we produce lower levels in the winter months due to less exposure to the sun. But by taking a vitamin D supplement, you can keep those levels up, and keep your mood up as well!

2. Aroma Therapy

Smell is one of the most direct pathways to the brain, making it an easy emotional trigger. Certain smells can promote joy and relaxation naturally. How cool is that?!

There are some essential oils that prove to be wonderful tools to fight off stress and depression. Some of the scents researchers have found that promote happy feelings are bergamot, lavender, roman chamomile, and ylang ylang.

Essential oils can be diffused into the air of a room or applied to the skin for a day of pleasant smells.

3. Watch Your Diet

It makes sense that the things we choose to put in our bodies directly affect how it functions. There are actually certain foods that provide the nutrients our brains crave. Some of the foods that have been shown to boost mood are

-Brazil nuts (great source of selenium— a mineral that decreases rates of depression, anxiety, and tiredness)

-Oily fish (fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines provide omega-3 fatty acids, which keeps brain cells flexible for optimal chemical flow in the brain)

-Oats (thanks to their low glycemic index, oats release energy slowly into the bloodstream, instead of providing a rush that comes with a crash to follow)

Foods that can leave you feeling irritable or low include caffeine, sugar, and alcohol due to the dramatic energy crashes afterward.

4. Get Moving

Regular exercise is good for you in so many ways; it’s even good for your mood! Studies show that 30 minutes of exercise a day not only releases feel-good brain chemicals (such as neurotransmitters and endorphins), but it also reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression.

The best part is that there are so many different ways to exercise and attain these benefits. You don’t necessarily have to pay for a gym membership, either. Try a free community yoga class or find a fun in-home workout to complete with a friend. There are so many options, you’re bound to find one you love!

5. Take A Deep Breath

Breathing exercises are a quick and easy way to reduce your stress in a matter of moments. If your workload is overwhelming you, or your day isn’t turning out quite as great as you planned, simply place your feet about a hip-width apart. Try to rest your thoughts for a moment and focus solely on your breathing. Next, inhale through your nose as deep into your belly as you can without forcing it. Exhale through your mouth as slowly as you can comfortably. Repeat for three to five minutes for best results.