When your emotional wellbeing is not how you would like it to be, it can have an impact on all aspects of your life, including your performance at work and the quality of your relationships.
Thankfully there are lots of simple things you can do that may help you manage things like stress more effectively, and get you feeling happier and healthier. Here are some natural mood boosters you can try today:
Exercise may be a well-known antidote for depression, but experts believe fresh air can lift your mood even higher. Studies suggest being surrounded by nature helps people forget their worries. According to the World Health Organization, green urban spaces are important because they offer a place for physical activity and relaxation, as well as offering a refuge from city noise. It adds that green spaces are important to mental health, improving wellbeing and the treatment of mental illness.
Exercising in a natural environment may also help relieve the symptoms of mild depression and reduce the effects of stress. If you can't get out to the country on a regular basis, spending time in your garden or taking a walk in a park can have a similar effect.
Bring the outdoors in
If you don't live in the country or close to an urban green space, there's always the option of making a green space indoors by having houseplants. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, indoor plants offer improved mental and physical wellbeing, with benefits including:
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress levels
- Increased attention span
- Fewer breathing problems
- Lower blood pressure
- More energy
- Fewer headaches
There's also evidence that offices with indoor plants can boost workers' quality of life. In one report, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers set up experiments in large commercial offices in the Netherlands and the UK, comparing 'lean' offices (offices stripped of any decorations without a work-related function) and 'green' offices (offices with landscaping involving the use of plants).
Looking at air quality, concentration and workplace satisfaction, they discovered positive outcomes in each of the offices that contained plants.
Light up your life
A lack of exposure to natural light, particularly during the winter months, can lead to feelings of lethargy and depression, says Mental Health Research UK. In some people it can also cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is also known as winter depression. Yet many of us see little natural light at work. And when the clocks go back in October, some of us may leave home for work in the dark and return in the dark too.
A lack of light is thought to disrupt the production of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine, both of which are linked with mood. Improving office lighting in general can be helpful. But if you have an outside view and are exposed to natural light, your productivity could take a turn for the better.
Have a cuppa
A good cup of tea can help almost any problem. In fact, tea drinking has been considered a healthy habit in many cultures for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. More recently, scientists have discovered the health benefits of tea – whether black (fermented), green (non-fermented) and oolong (semi-fermented) – are the result of the various types of antioxidants it contains.
Tea also contains a non-protein amino acid called L-theanine, which is thought to make you feel calm and less stressed. L-theanine is thought to boost your brain's levels of the 'feel-good' chemical dopamine as well as another chemical called gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), which may help produce feelings of wellbeing.
Eat more fruit and veg
By now most of us know about the importance of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day if we want to stay healthy. But having just a couple more servings a day than usual could boost your mood in just two weeks, say researchers writing in the journal PLoS One.
In tests, volunteers given two extra daily portions of daily fruit and veg over the course of a fortnight said they had more motivation as well as more vitality.
"There is growing evidence that people who eat more fruit and veg have better mental health," say the study's authors, who add that eating plenty of fruit and veg is linked with less depression and anxiety, greater happiness, higher life satisfaction and greater social emotional wellbeing.
Be more sociable
Having a strong social network can boost your wellbeing by improving your mood, reducing depression and, according to some studies, even reducing your risk of developing dementia. So try to make plans to see your friends and family on a regular basis:
- Stay in touch with those who are far away by using technologies such as Skype and FaceTime.
- Make regular arrangements to see friends and family who are nearby.
- Or if you want to make new social contacts, try joining a club or group and taking advantage of social and professional networking events.
How CABA can help
We're here whenever you need help, support or information that could help improve your wellbeing. Our services are free for ICAEW members, ACA students and their families. So call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366 or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.