List of Things that help boost my mood / notes to self, but happy to share
*I will sporadically update this and add links here and there*
•Switching from coffee to green tea. I have been an avid coffee drinker since I was 18 or so, and recently in the last couple of months switched to making ice matcha instead. I don’t get the euphoric boost of energy, but I do get a more level amount of energy throughout the day and don’t get the rebound low that coffee was giving me.
•Making Art and just playing in the studio without necessarily an end goal in mind.
obvious, but its a list, so it goes on it
•Books-Pulling out those big ole dusty art books on the shelves and giving myself some library hours. Taking notes on things that catch my eye, ideas that come up, and possibly create an artwork inspired by something I come across. Sometimes I realize I haven't cracked open one of my favorite art books in way too long.
•Color Therapy -This may sound silly, but I do believe in color therapy. I have three different pairs of yellow lensed glasses that I wear when I am feeling down, irritated, anxious or even if its just been overcast for a few days, to thwart whatever gloomy thoughts may come because of all the gray. I have them in other colors too, green and teal, but the yellow is definitely the best. My favorite pair is a yellow pair sold by GloFX on amazon.
•Eating a flavorless bowl of shaved ice with water on it as the “flavoring”. Yea, I'm not sure if this is just some weird pica thing that I do, but it definitely makes me feel better. I came across an article recently that said something to the effect of eating cold things like ice has been shown to somehow increase oxygen to the brain. I felt validated. Shaved ice only though. I have a hawaiian shaved ice maker that I got from target or somewhere and I just put the auto cubes out of the freezer in there. Its quick and easy. Maybe eating cold things in general?
•Foods that increase serotonin, probably just about everything that tastes amazing has a good chance of boosting your mood. Here are my regulars
Cabbage. If I'm really feeling like shit, I will chop green cabbage really finely and just put sesame seed oil and a bit of braggs amino acid or soy sauce on it. I think it helps.
Rice. Sesame oil, soy sauce and Sumac powder or whatever.
Garbanzo Beans - My favorite hummus recipe is –garbanzo beans (1 can), one lemon or a half to taste, salt, half tablespoon of ground cumin or more to taste. sometimes I add a couple garlic cloves and sometimes I make it without garlic. Garlic sometimes gives me a bit of a migraine. sometimes I add a bit of cayenne too, depending on what I feel like. Cayenne btw is also a mood booster.
Black eyed peas
•Vitamins + Supplements, seems obvious to mention it, but definitely make sure you are taking a multi vitamin or at the very least take these / make sure to get enough of these in your diet
Adaptogenic herb supplements:
Ashwaghanda - definitely
Rodiola Rosea - if you drink coffee, I would skip this one, or start with a very low dose. It gives a boost of energy similar to caffeine and I found it to be too much for me with coffee, when I drank coffee. Might be fine with green tea.
Saffron - on the fence about it. Not sure, but possibly it works. I feel like I've had better days on it, but since it isn't as noticeable as the others, I'm undecided.
•Cold Shower / Hot Bath
Take a warm/ hot bath and then rinse off with a cool shower or just straight up take a cold shower. Sounds awful, but it works for me sometimes. The idea is to get the blood moving more quickly through your body which can help with an energy boost and hopefully a mood boost. Warm bath with some aromatic essential oils diffusing nearby or in the bath *if safe to do so, some essential oils are dangerous af* an hour before bed to help with sleep.
•Smelling red cedarwood. I have found that cedarwood essential oil can work too (I like Now brand the best), but nothing is as good as smelling fresh cut red cedar wood, like the kinds they sell for putting in closets to prevent moths from eating sweaters. Cedarwood has been proven to increase serotonin in the brain, something I found out after a lifetime of being obsessed with that smell. While we are at it, Sandalwood has a similar effect too, not as strong but definitely similar. I buy Sun Essentials Australian sandalwood essential oil. I love Oud too, but the products on the market are pretty misleading and I have yet to find anything that smells like a good oud wood.
•Essential oils other than the woody ones:
(my favorite brand is "Now", because of the consistency with quality, essential oils can vary widely)
I have tried many other oils, but the ones above work the best for me.
“Life in the Undergrowth”
“The Private Life of Plants”
“The Life of Birds”
•Other nature documentaries: (will expand)
“Dancing with Birds”
Sometimes kind of boring but also kind of soothing, there are a million episodes out there so you can just leave it on in the background while you work, if you want
•random shows that make me feel better
StarTrek Next Generation + DS9
King of The Hill
•Watch as much comedy as possible.
“Would I lie to you”
Stephen Fry earlier seasons of “QI”
•Listening to audiobooks by Jon Ronson, David Sedaris, or Augusten Burroughs
* I will expand this list with my favorite audio books*
Library cards are the hook up for free audio books. If your local library or state library doesn’t have a big audio book selection, the Austin library offers digital memberships for something like $25 a year and they have somewhere around 70,000 titles and you can rent 10 at a time for 21 days. I have a Brooklyn membership too, but they are about to end access for out of state memberships and they have a long wait for all books anyway. Austin is pretty quick actually, lots of books don’t even have a wait.
•Watching documentaries about Egypt
Old vintage ones like ones hosted by Jon Romer on youtube are pretty great
Egyptian documentaries with Joann Fletcher
There are some pretty good ones on Amazon too, I can post specific titles later.
•Take yourself on a local adventure alone *only if safe of course*
Go on a “Derive”, wander based on a set of parameters, follow a color, shape, pattern etc, I’ve found this to be the most fun in the woods.
Get lost without GPS
•Try some surrealist games and art making techniques, methods designed for letting the subconscious and conscious play.
I have specific playlists curated to boost my mood. I will share them here once I gather them.
For me specifically Stevie Wonder is my go to. I don’t know why but Neutral Milk Hotel, “Aeroplane over the Sea” and Air “Moon Safari” and “Talki Walki” seem to do help act as a mental switch too.
Even if I don’t feel like lugging myself out there and there is a ton of boring stuff like pulling weeds or cleaning up dead stuff, I ultimate feel a shit ton better after I get out there and do it. Maybe it's just the act of feeling like I am getting something done or being somewhat destructive in the garden to renew it, but it definitely helps. Also, chance encounters with lizards, beetles, butterflies and bee in the garden in the warmer months definitely lifts the mood. Sometimes I take a derive of sorts just around my backyard and find interesting things. Sometimes just changing perspective in a familiar place can lead to an act of discovery worth having.
Spending time loving on and playing with animals. Sometimes when we feel like shit, we forget how good it is to take a walk with the dogs, play games with a cat or just feed them snacks. They appreciate it too. When things are real shitty, spend more time with animals.
•Learning New Skills
Sewing, embroidery, casting concrete, whatever, creating those new neural networks in your brain makes your brain happy *usually* and it's a pretty good distraction too. Udemy has college level courses and a Udemy membership is free through many libraries, otherwise the courses can cost 100s of bucks. An annual Austin digital membership covers this. I’ve taken some courses through Domestika, they are almost all really cheap, none were terribly in depth on anything though. There is another one and I can’t remember it right now, but I’ll update this and add it later.
•Daily Walk 30 - 45 min a day
•Melatonin for sleep if you are getting kept awake at night. Melatonin has also been shown to increase serotonin production in the brain. Valerian is good too, but valerian can make you groggy and too high of a dose can make you feel off the next day.
I have grown herbs for 10 years and have noticed there are a few in my garden that seem to have a marked influence on my mood. Sweet Marjoram, Lemon Grass, Rosemary, Basil and Roselle. Apparently just the aromas of the first three, similar to cedarwood can improve the mood. I make teas and eat them in pastas and soups. Roselle is another good herb to have in soups and teas for depression. You can buy dried Roselle buds (Roselle Sabdariffa Hibiscus). Its full of vitamin-C and is pretty sour.
I have next to zero experience with this, but I can say the type of “meditation” that I do is heavily visual meditation, which I think is counter to many people’s definitions and practices. I’ll post some additional details about that later.
Basically make physical symbolic acts that represent lifting yourself up, freeing yourself from pain, opening new paths of discovery for yourself, etc. I will elaborate on this later. Rituals can often be the best way to act out affirmations and releases and therefore have more mental viability in my opinion.
•Create a Book of Shadows physical or digital for yourself for future use
A book that contains all the specific magic you need for yourself to dig yourself out of a quagmire when the going gets tough, or you just don’t feel like you have the energy to put the effort in. Catalog of favorite music, books, places, shows, quotes, paintings, walks, hikes, smells, etc
•Talk it out to friends or strangers / therapy
This is a nebulous one for me because, sometimes I feel better and sometimes I definitely don’t feel better at all.
•Sometimes its better to write about it. Write in long hand sloppy af as quickly as possible for 30-45 of absolutely anything that pops into your head, even if its groveling or petty, just get it out on the page. Try to do this at least once a day and preferably in the morning. I have been doing this and its been helping me with my anxiety and I think with depression too. I try to write three 7”x10” pages in the morning before I do anything else for around 30 min. I got the idea from the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, which was given to me in college and I threw it on a shelf as a woo woo thing I wasn’t interested in. Now, all these years later, I got it on audio book recently and much like The Create Habit, by Twyla Tharp, its pretty damn insightful and applies to a whole lot more than just making art.