THE COVID MOOD GUIDE
Better Nutrition|October 2020
11 EASY WAYS TO STAY CALM, BALANCED, AND HAPPY DURING A PANDEMIC.
LISA TURNER

They say we’re all in this together—but if current social restrictions, financial concerns, and isolation have left you feeling stressed and depressed, it sure can feel like you’re all alone.

And it’s not all in your head. Studies show that social isolation and uncertainty about the future breed anxiety and depression, and financial fears are linked with higher levels of anxiety and poor mental health. And to make matters worse, chronic stress significantly impacts immune health, inflammation, and susceptibility to infectious disease.

There’s not much you can do about the state of the world, but you can take steps to protect your mood. Here are some of the best ways to feel better, right now.

1 Step away from that double espresso. Caffeine increases feelings of stress and anxiety. Make your morning latte with green tea instead— it’s rich in L-theanine, a compound that interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain and helps relieve anxiety. In one study, volunteers who took L-theanine showed more alpha waves, a sign of calm and relaxation. Other research shows that L-theanine can improve mood in people with major depressive disorder and reduce anxiety better than prescription medications.

2 Get off the couch. Exercise is critical for reducing stress, improving mood, and promoting healthy sleep. Moving your body works in part by lowering stress hormones and temporarily boosting endorphins, brain chemicals that promote better mood. Over the long run, exercise appears to encourage the brain to rewire itself in a way that eases depression. Shoot for three to five days a week. If possible, exercise outside, and with a friend— hikes and long walks are ideal.

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