Healthy Beginnings

7 ways from Dr. Dow to boost your mood naturally

Drinking a bit of turmeric can be as effective as antidepressants at treating depression. Courtesy photo

Almost everyone could use a boost of serenity, joy and happiness, but not everyone wants to take on the risks and side effects of prescription drugs.

Fortunately, nature offers a wealth of mood-boosting alternatives that are just as effective as pharmaceutical treatments. Here are seven natural ways to manage your mood, mute anxiety and boost your all-around sense of wellbeing.

As always, talk to your physician to make sure any treatment is safe for you.

1 | Supplement with Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are great for your body and great for your mind. Recent studies have shown that Omega-3 supplements are an effective treatment for both depression and anxiety. To maximize these effects, look for a supplement with a 7-1 ratio of EPA to DHA.

2 | Try a light box

Light boxes are an effective treatment for both seasonal affective disorder and non-seasonal mood dips. Use your light box in the morning for 20 to 60 minutes. This will boost your mood by helping to raise your serotonin levels and help you sleep well by regulating your melatonin.

3 | Breathe like a yogi

Yogic breathing is an effective treatment both of acute mental illness as well as stress. To breathe like a yogi, start with “diaphragmatic breathing.” Inhale slowly through your nose, into the belly. Exhale through your mouth, contracting your abdominal muscles to push all the air out. Repeat for several minutes, a few times a day.

4 | Drink turmeric

Turmeric, the ancient healing spice that flavors curry, can be as effective as prescription antidepressants at treating depression. For an eye-opening shot of wellness, combine half a teaspoon of turmeric and black pepper with an ounce of cold water. Blend with fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper and/or ginger. Toss it back to fortify your mood.

5 | Feed on folate

Folate (AKA vitamin B9) is so important to mood regulation that it’s now available as a prescription to treat depression. However, you don’t need to take a pill to get your folate fix. Add these high-folate foods to your diet: spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, romaine, mushrooms, asparagus, bananas, melons, lemons, Swiss chard, broccoli, lentils, black beans, kidney beans and black-eyed peas.

6 | Sip on saffron

This vivid crimson spice has been a part of human diets for millennia, and scientists are still uncovering more benefits to its use. To reap its mood-boosting powers, try this easy-to-make saffron latte: Warm a cup of milk and add half a teaspoon of cinnamon and five threads of saffron.

7 | Sprint for serenity

Staying fit will improve your mood, help you sleep and leave you feeling great. The only problem is that many find it tough to find the time. If this is you, try sprint interval training (SIT). Warm up for two minutes, and then do three 20-second intervals of an “all out” sprint. Split the intervals up by two minutes of light activity; spend three minutes cooling down. This intense 10-minute routine provides the same benefits as 50 minutes of traditional exercise.

Dr. Mike Dow is a New York Times-bestselling author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think, Act & Be Happy.” This article is a shortened version and is published with permission; go to to read more of Dow’s work.