Mental health during lockdown: Five small things you can do to boost your mood

Mental health takes into account how you are feeling in the present moment. Noticed a bit of a bad mood? Nutritionist Tracy Breuning has five steps to lighten the load.

Boost serotonin

Breuning begins: “Feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin is manufactured in the gut.

“Support your gut flora diversity with prebiotic foods such as bananas, apples, oats, asparagus, onions, garlic and leeks.”

Wanting something more adventurous? “Try your hand at making fermented foods,” suggests Breuning.


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“To make a simple Sauerkraut you just need a jar, white cabbage and some salt.

“Sauerkraut has been shown to have good levels of the beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria.”

Fancy a quick-fix instead? “You could consider introducing a multi-strain live bacteria supplement, Such as Bio-Kult Boosted.

“It had 14 different strains to support your gut integrity and microflora.”

Eat right

Breuning explains that mood enhancer serotonin is derived from the protein “tryptophan”.

She reveals that foods high in tryptophan include: “chicken, turkey fish, cheese, eggs and oats”.

Breuning points out that research has shown foods high in omega 3 and vitamin D “can support mental wellbeing”.

For those who would like to feel better, it may be worth incorporating “cold water fish, green vegetables, flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts” into their diet.

Breuning recommends: “Good food sources of vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, and mushrooms.”

Stay connected

“Studies show that, as humans, we like to feel we belong to something,” says Breuning.

“Positive social connection – be it by post, phone, online or over a garden fence – can boost oxytocin.

“This increases self-esteem and optimism as well as dopamine, which can boost our drive.”


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Random Acts of Kindness

Still on the theme of human connection, Breuning adds: “Research has shown that doing things for others can stop us focusing on our own worries and boost our mood.”

She suggests it could be as simple as a “thank you or a smile”.

For those green-fingered people, “it may be planting seeds in a pot for a friend or neighbour that will bloom in a few weeks”.

For more ideas on how you can contribute to somebody else’s happiness, and inadvertently your own, check out Random Acts Of Kindness.

Laughing yoga

A bit on the alternative side, but stay with her, Breuning suggest laughing yoga.

“Laughing yoga is about deep breathing exercises and playful laughter.

“It has been shown to have positive health benefits, especially in stress management.”

This is because “laughing forms strong bonds with ourselves and others”.

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