Scientists Say These 8 Cheap Buys Can Boost Your Mood


They say that money can't buy happiness. But a few bucks can help you buy something to boost your mood. What should you be shopping for when you're having an off day? Take a look at these inexpensive and proven selections.

1. A Cup of Chamomile Tea

Author and registered dietitian Sharon Palmer says, "There is research that shows chamomile tea may be beneficial for mood, including anxiety and depression." She's right. In a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, researchers "examined the antianxiety and antidepressant action of oral chamomile extract in participants with symptoms of comorbid anxiety and depression." While conventional drug therapies have proven to work, this study was to find a holistic alternative for sufferers who avoid pharmaceuticals because of personal, cultural, or financial reasons. The result of the study suggests "chamomile may provide clinically meaningful antidepressant activity that occurs in addition to its previously observed anxiolytic [antianxiety] activity." So the next time you're at Starbucks, order something herbal.

Or, you could still go with…

2. A Cup of Coffee

Millions of people rely on coffee to get them going in the morning, and there's a very good reason for that — especially for women. A few years ago the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drank at least two cups of coffee per day were 15% less likely to suffer from depression than those who didn't drink any coffee; for women who drank four cups or more, the risk of depression decreased by 20%. It's all in the caffeine. The stimulant triggers the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain responsible for mood enhancement. (See also: 10 Surprising Benefits of Caffeine)

3. A Song Download

I'm a hummer, I've always been a hummer, and people like to point out that I'm a hummer. I'm not sure if that means I'm secretly a psychopath or just naturally happy inside, but there's no denying that there's something about music that makes us feel better. In fact, Scientists at the University of Missouri linked a good mood to upbeat music in a recent study. Healthline reports that "participants improved their mood after being told to try to do so, but they only succeeded when they listened to the upbeat music of Copland, as opposed to the sadder tunes of Stravinsky." So in summary, if you're feeling down, get up and sing and dance to your favorite song; you'll instantly feel better (even if somebody's watching).

4. A Bite of Chocolate

Really any kind of candy makes me feel better — I'm partial to the gummies — but studies have shown that chocolate, particularly dark chocolate (which is healthier for you than milk or semi-sweet chocolate anyway), can improve your mood. According to Reader's Digest, "Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure. It also contains the chemical serotonin, which acts as an antidepressant."

5. A Squeeze of Lemon

You don't have to get your face all puckered up to enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of lemon, because it's not the meat of the fruit that's responsible, it's the scent. Natural Health magazine reports that scientists recently discovered a link between depression and our sense of smell. Results concluded that lemon and other citrus fragrances directly affected neurotransmitters in the brains of mice. "The aromas help boost serotonin, a feel-good hormone, and reduce levels of norepinephrine, a stress hormone."

6. A Bouquet of Flowers

We give flowers as gifts because they smell good, look good, and make people happy. But there's actual research to support the mood-enhancing qualities of some flowers. When you're feeling a little down, irises are your best bet. "The color indigo stimulates the brain's pineal gland, which is the regulator of sleep patterns. Indigo also helps to free the mind of worries, fears and inhibitions," according to the Chicago Tribune. Other findings include increased energy with roses, stress relief with lilacs, and a more restful night's sleep with delphinium.

7. A Cup of Yogurt

It doesn't matter what brand or flavor of yogurt you prefer, they all have the same nutrient to put you in a better mood: calcium (but only if you're a woman; unfortunately, there's no data available on the mood benefits of calcium for men.) According to The Washington Post, "calcium is often paired with vitamin D to help regulate mood fluctuations attributed to PMS. Since estrogen plays a large role in calcium production, calcium consumption may improve PMS-related depression." If you're not a fan of yogurt, you can choose other foods rich in calcium to help boost your mood, including sardines, fortified orange juice, dark leafy greens, and soybeans.

8. A Pouch of Almonds

Sufferers of metabolic syndrome — characterized by excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure — can brighten their day a bit with one small bag of nuts. "Just one ounce of mixed nuts (raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts) was linked in a recent study published in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research to higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of people with metabolic syndrome," according to Nuts also are high in protein too, which makes them a healthy addition to any diet when eaten in moderation. Just be aware that nuts are calories dense — a small handful is plenty!

What do you think about these little mood boosters? Have any of these worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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