OK, so Memorial Day is behind is so unofficially, summer is over. Everyone is back to school, busy schedules, after school activities and those lazy summer days are becoming a distant memory. However, so many still long for those days while the sun is still shining outside and the weather is still comfy enough for a dip in the pool. So how do we combat that summertime sadness and look forward to fall?
Many foods help stabilize your mood by keeping your serotonin levels in check, the chemicals in your brain that induce calm.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one part of the brain to another. An imbalance of serotonin in the brain can influence mood and lead to depression.
Here are just a few foods that if incorporated into your diet, can up your serotonin levels and keep you smiling year round!:
- Carbs are your friend! – Carbohydrates play role in the production of serotonin and lack of carbohydrates can lead to noticeable changes in your mood. Hang out with any Atkins person and you’ll see that they aren’t the most delightful company ; ) But don’t load up on empty carbs, make sure they are high quality such as whole grains like quinoa and oats as well as organic fruits & veggies. It is important to mention that these “carbs” must be from whole sources. Candy and sweets can offer the same effect however since carbohydrates affect insulin levels, it is key that your carb choices are healthy ones so as to not spike your insulin levels and give you a lasting effect. Whole foods don’t give you the crash that simple carbs do.
- Vitamins D, E & Omega 3s – There are a great many sources of vitamin E such as nuts, seeds and veggie oils. Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E and is a healthier alternative for sautéing foods and vegetables. Vitamin D is easy, just spend some time outdoors and you’re all good! Just be safe with a good sunscreen. Omegas from plant based sources (pumpkin seed, flax, etc) are a great way to get in your Omegas while the good fat helps improve brain function.
- Tall, dark & green – Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale and peas are high in folate. It is a substance that has a key role in the production of serotonin. The fresher the veggie, the more packed with nutrients. If you can get fresh, go for frozen over canned.
- Beans, beans the magical fruit – No silly, they aren’t fruit, they’re beans! And chickpeas, otherwise known as garbanzo beans are rich in iron, vitamin E and fiber. All of which are very helpful in fighting off the blues as they are key elements to proper, balanced brain function.
In addition to adding these foods to achieve your optimum mood, it’s best to reduce, if not eliminate certain foods from your diet. Such foods are:
- Red meat
- Fried foods
- Processed & fast food
- Alcohol and caffeine
These items have a lot of chemicals and ingredients that block serotonin and throw off our natural balance. So as much as you can avoid these, the better off you will be!
Additionally, here are some fun and easy ways to help look forward to fall and help leave summer behind until next year!:
- Plan a getaway: Planning a future getaway can help give you something to look forward to & get through your week. As you plan your vacation, visualize yourself at your destination. Whether it’s with your family or friends, make it fun and interactive for everyone involved. The fun can start with the prep!
- Host a movie or game night: Rent a great flick and invite your friends over for some good food and drinks . The visuals will get your mind off the cold and dreary and onto the engaging storyline or tournament. Make it a recurring event that a group of friends choose to rotate each week. This way you always have a fun evening in the books to help you get through your week.
- Schedule playdates for your kids: Just like the movie or game night, kids need fun activities to look forward to to help them through their weeks. Especially when they are starting a new year with a new set of responsibilities. We can’t expect them to be excited about homework but it’s easy to get them excited about seeing all of their friends who can relate.
- Engage in Fall cleaning: Find therapy and enjoyment in putting away your summer clothes and decor while prepping for Fall & Winter. Freshen up the house with new colorful accents; go through your closets and toss out things you don’t wear anymore; and open up the windows and let in the fresh cool air. You may find a ton of stuff to sell at a garage sale so a few extra bucks will definitely make you smile. Or perhaps you start to dig up holiday decorations and your favorite sweater, getting you all the more excited for the months to come.
- A day at the spa: Taking a little time to pamper yourself is always a great idea. We all need to de-stress, unwind and reset. If you can’t afford a spa treatment, invite your freinds over for mani/pedis, facials and gossip ; )
- Start a new hobby or class: A great way to get your groove back is to delve into a hobby or enroll in a class. No matter what tickles your fancy: dance, knitting, kung fu or learning a language; starting a new hobby is a great way to get your brain excited and out of the boring routine, but also a terrific way to make new friends!
- Make the new routine fun: No matter if it’s just you or you and your brood, make the new routines fun. Help you and your loved ones look forward to mornings and other scheduled events by starting a fun tradition. For instance, make Monday “Manic Monday” so get your family ready for the week to some fun and silly tunes, Taco Tuesday and so on ; )
- Goal set: Nothing gets you more pumped then working toward a goal. Writing it down and making sure it’s something that is attainable in the time you have alotted, can really put a spring in your step. Looking to shed a few pounds before the holidays to make room for fruit cake? Needing to save up to buy that ring for your girl and propose on New Year’s Eve? No matter what your goal, write it up and post it somewhere to keep your eye on the prize!
- Look forward to the holidays ahead: I happen to be a holiday nut so as soon as Labor Day is over, I’m stoked for crisp air, pumpkins in abundance and planning for my Halloween costume! If you have kids or not, look for fun activities that center around the season. Harvest festivals, county fairs and colder weather events pick up now so make it a point to gather up your family and friends and make the most of Fall.
I know it’s tough to bid farewell to hot weather, carefree weekends and swim suits but Fall offers up a lot of fun too so make the most of it!