Autumn is my favorite time of year. Along with cooler weather, fall brings Halloween, pumpkins, hot apple cider and a general festive feeling that no other season can match. Unfortunately, it also means that the days grow shorter, and the sun checks out a lot more often than usual, which spells mood swings and general malaise for many people. We’re already under a lot of stress; we don’t need any external factors to affect our mood too.
If you’ve been experiencing a low mood for a long time or you find that your mood is having an impact on your quality of life, you may want to speak with someone — and that’s perfectly fine! There is absolutely no shame in needing help to get yourself through a rough patch in life, so please do not feel that there is! However, if you are simply looking for ways to boost your daily mood as we move into the colder, darker seasons, I have a few food-related tips I’d like to share.
1. Keep snacks on your person at all times.
If possible, you should keep some healthy snacks in your backpack for when you need to take the edge off your hunger but can’t stop for a meal. Nuts, such as almonds, cashews or (my personal favorite) pistachios are perfect and easy to bring along. If you don’t like nuts or have an allergy, some veggies like baby carrots work too — though something with protein would be best.
2. Eat more fish.
Most kinds of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for our well-being and have been shown to affect the production of hormones such as serotonin that influence mood.
A simple way to incorporate fish into your diet is to buy canned fish. You can find canned salmon or tuna at most stores — in the case of tuna and some other fish, be careful of mercury content. When it comes to salmon, wild caught is better than farmed (but if farmed is the cheaper option and you’re on a budget it’s better than nothing). I personally enjoy canned sardines. They’re delicious (I swear) and incredibly healthy, an excellent quick lunch option.
3. Drink tea.
Tea is widely known to be soothing, but it is also incredibly healthy. If you’re in need of an energy boost, caffeinated green tea can help! It can give you just enough energy to help you feel better, and you won’t crash as much as you might if you drink coffee. It’s also packed with important amino acids.
4. Eat chocolate.
This is probably one you’ve heard before. Chocolate is a well-known and well-loved mood booster. It has been shown to lower stress hormones when eaten regularly — dark chocolate is best, in this case. It is a healthier option as compared to milk chocolate, which has more sugar and fewer antioxidants.
5. Let in the light.
Okay, so this one isn’t a food-related tip, but it’s still important and easy to do. As you may already know, many people become moody in the fall and winter months due to the lack of sunlight we experience as the days grow shorter. So sit by a window or go for a walk while it’s still light out, and make sure you get your Vitamin D. There are even special lights that can be found at various pharmacies and other stores that help replace the sunlight you lose in the winter. You just turn it on in the morning while you’re getting ready to start your day! If you find yourself really struggling as the seasons change this is an option you may want to consider giving a try.
I hope some of these tips have been helpful. While not everything will work for everybody, it can’t hurt to at least keep in mind that the change in weather could be affecting you! Even just considering the weather’s effect on you may allow you to take a step back and really think about how you feel.
Have a safe and happy fall, everyone!