Don’t wait around for a blue mood to pass. Get cracking with some positive well-being action – we’ve got it all, from herbs to happy pills…
Sniff out a smile
Aromatherapy has to be number one for sheer cheerfulness clout, and uplifting neroli essential oil is best for brightening our day. “Due to its profound effect on the nervous system, neroli is considered the rescue remedy for conditions like shock, anxiety, depression and stress,” says aromatherapist Ines Willis. “It also has amazing skincare properties.” For all-day happy, surround yourself with its delicious fragrance, as Ines reveals…
On your face
Uplifting neroli is best used in a facial oil. Mix four drops of neroli into 20ml jojoba (a thicker carrier oil) and use as a moisturiser twice a day. Brilliant at hydrating dry, mature skin.
On your body
Make a wonderful bath/body oil by combining neroli and frankincense to lift your mood, release tension, and tone skin. Mix 10 drops of each into 50ml almond oil.
In your space
Add five drops of neroli and four drops of bergamot to 80ml water and 1tbsp alcohol (like vodka). Mix in a spray bottle and give the space around you a light spritz for an instant happy fix.
Let herbs lift your spirits
St John’s Wort is still the go-to happiness herb for well-being experts – it’s proven to be effective for easing mild depression. “It’s one of my faves,” says homeopath Margo Marrone. “I’m generally a very positive person, but boy did I need it yesterday! I take it as drops, and it kicks in within a few days.” Still worried? Don’t be, says Margo. “The only people who need to be careful using it are those already on antidepressants.”
Need a lift? Take 20 drops of St John’s Wort tincture in water, twice every day.
Want to improve your mood? Ditch carb-rich nibbles that bounce your blood sugar and mood around. “If we think of snacks as mini-meals, we tend to make healthier choices,” says nutritionist Katie Sheen. So what do we need from our snacks? Well, tryptophan for starters, plus vitamins C, B2, B6, and iron, which help make serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter. Try Katie’s mini-meals to keep your happiness buzzing all day…
Mid-morning snacks to help keep your blood-sugar levels balanced
- Egg-mayo sandwich
- Small bean salad
- Anchovies or pilchards in a mixed salad
Mid-afternoon snacks to up happiness without the sugar rush
- Cottage cheese on rice cakes
- Hummus with carrot/pepper sticks
- Plain full-cream yoghurt with berries
Evening snacks to soothe the mood
- ½ avocado drizzled with walnut oil
- Handful of cashew nuts
- Banana dipped in sesame seeds or linseeds
Build some bliss
Feeling endorphin-light? The good news is that we can create a happy feeling ourselves. “Whenever you feel a warm glow after sex, or the sweet feeling of looking at a cute baby or a puppy, or even enjoy the sensation of a warm bath at the end of a hard day, you’re feeling endorphins swimming happily through your bloodstream,” says transformative coach Michael Neill. “We don’t have to wait for spontaneous releases of endorphins – we can cultivate the response through practice.”
Here’s Michael’s how-to…
Creating A Good Feeling
1 Notice how you’re feeling in your body right now.
2 Shift your body until you’re feeling just a little bit better. Do this by sitting straighter, getting up for a gentle stretch, smiling up into your eyes and down into your body, or taking a deep breath.
3 Talk to yourself in a friendly voice. Tell yourself something you genuinely want to hear. Offer yourself a sincere compliment, or remember a time when you received one and knew it was sincere. Enjoy that good feeling.
4 Make a picture of yourself in your mind as you would look if you were just a little bit happier than right now. When you’ve got it, step into the picture and enjoy the feeling.
5 Repeat each of the steps above until you have successfully created a smile on your face and a good feeling in your body.
Put on a happy pace
Everyone knows walking improves your mood, but it’s still a struggle to get into those trainers every day – after all, it’s exercise! Movement expert Joanna Hall urges us to change our view. “I’m a big believer in using moving time as thinking time – walking becomes productive for your mind as well as your body,” she says. “Planning a happy event as you go can create an emotional attachment to your walk.”
Press to power up
Acupressure – a bit like acupuncture, but without the needles – is worth trying when you’re down. “Regular meditation helps to improve happiness, as studies show; however, it’s not as quick and easy as acupressure,” says holistic expert Skye Alexander. “There are several points on the body that will help to increase happiness.” This is one of Skye’s favourites…
The Centre of Power: “This point eases anxiety and enhances self-esteem,” says Skye. “It’s located at your solar plexus, halfway between your belly button and the base of your breastbone. Hold your fingers on this point, applying firm but comfortable pressure for a minute or two. Repeat several times a day, or when you feel the need.”
Pop a happy pill
Less than happy because you’re feeling off colour? Nutritional therapist Nina Omotoso suggests a mood-enhancing combo. “Vitamin C could give you a surge of happiness. Canadian researchers found taking two 500mg tablets daily significantly improved the mood of patients hospitalised with acute health conditions. Combine this with a high-strength omega oil to enhance brain-cell communication.” Try Solgar Ester-C Plus 500mg Vitamin C, R176,95 for 50 veggie capsules, Wellness Warehouse, and Real Thing Mega Omega Fish Oil, R174,95 for 200ml, Dis-Chem.
Get a yoga smile
Yoga isn’t all po-faced poses, you know – it can be a great cheerer-upper. “It can help raise our spirits by deepening our breathing and opening our energy pathways, and when we feel more energised and balanced, we feel happier,” says yoga teacher Bridget Woods Kramer. Want a quick booster? Try one of these easy moves that even non-yogis can do…
- Interlace your fingers, push your palms forward (away from yourself) and then stretch your arms above your head. Do a few simple twists from the waist to re-energise.
- Lie down in the ‘corpse’ pose – arms out, palms up and legs relaxed, with feet allowed to fall outward. Lie like this for 10 minutes, breathing naturally, but with the hint of a smile just at the corners of your lips. “If you allow the corners of your lips to very subtly curl, you feel lighter inside, and just a little more at peace and happy,” says Bridget.
Juice for joy
We do go on about juicing, but there’s a recipe for whatever ails you! Here’s a happy boost from naturopath Rick Hay…
Whizz together 1 apple and 1 pear for gut-soothing, smooth energy release; 2 or 3 carrots – eating carrots can improve your mood health, according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health; and a little ginger, which soothes the nervous and digestive systems, and revs up circulation and energy – perfect for dreary days. To get even happier and more energised, throw in a spoonful of supergreens like The Real Thing Green Power Powder, R202 for 150g, Faithful to Nature.
Words Lynn Cardy Additional Words Laurelle Williams