As much as we try to avoid it, we all have those crummy days once in a while. Think there’s nothing out there to help you feel better? Think again. Instead of partaking in the traditional shopping spree or pub-crawl that your friends might lure you into, why not try something natural? Alcohol enthusiasts may beg to differ, but going au natural frees the mind, body, and soul.
Here is View The Vibe‘s list of 10 natural pick-me-ups. And remember: a rainbow always appears after a storm.
Turn To Nature
A nice retreat into nature is an instant pick-me-up. According to the Biophilia Hypothesis theory, we have a connection with nature thanks to evolution. It makes us feel better because it’s in our DNA. We are nature. Nature as a retreat is good for the body and mind because you’re taking a breather from all that manmade stuff back in the “real world.” You lose track of time because there are no clocks, you stop being self-conscious, and you’re able to escape from your troubles. Oh, and camping is also a great way to reset your circadian rhythms. Good sleeping patterns make for happy people.
Yoga is super relaxing and even helps alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to the Boston University School of Medicine, yoga “may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.” Essentially, GABA is a chemical that helps relaxes the mind. The levels are much higher in an individual practicing yoga as opposed to someone who power walks every day. Also, attending classes is good for the mind. You’re surrounded by other people, which makes you feel less lonely. Wanna try out a class (during what precious little is left of) this summer? There’s a variety offered here in the city.
Get a Runner’s High
Running is good for the body. Besides the health benefits, there’s that almighty goal that leaves you feeling happier (and sweaty): the runner’s high. Endorphins are released in the brain as a response to the physical discomfort of running. The more endorphins that are released, the more euphoric your run becomes. This high becomes a form of motivation, and this dates back to our ancestral times. Hunting was a way of surviving, and people had to chase down their prey. This motivated them to run fast, and the release of endorphins helped to achieve their distance and speed. I’m sure they felt good after they indulged in their meal.
This ain’t no Sunny D or Minute Maid. Cold-pressed juices are actually jam packed with nutrients that will boost your energy and contribute to health (which is how you can justify the slightly heftier price tag). Just as the name suggests, fruits and vegetables are ‘pressed’ as opposed to being fed through a traditional juicer. Pressing allows for maximum contents of vitamins, enzymes, and all those other happy-feeling, body-boosting nutrients to fill up the raw juice. The Good Press and Greenhouse Juice Co. are just two of the many options in the city to get your hands on a bottle, or you can try making your own. After all, it’s all in the method.
Revisit your childhood by picking up an adult colouring book. Why colour, you ask? Art therapist Kim Abramowitz described the appeal in The Toronto Star: Colouring “can be a form of self-care, dedicating some time to yourself to do something you enjoy. For some people that might be exercise, reading, or doing something else they enjoy. But for a lot of people, turning to art is a wonderful form of self-care and self-expression.” Indigo carries a wide variety of colouring books for you to try out, or you can even hit the Internet and print out a picture of your choice.
Attend an Art Class
Want to try a different form of colouring? Attend an art class to get your creative juices flowing. Cathy Malchiodi, author of The Art Therapy Sourcebook, expresses the purpose of art therapy beautifully. She believes that it helps “people explore and express themselves authentically through art. Through this process, people may find relief from overwhelming emotions, crises or trauma. They may discover insights about themselves, increase their sense of well-being, enrich their daily lives through creative expression, or experience personal transformation.” Art therapy focuses on your inner experiences, which are brought out when you’re faced with a canvas. What better way to release any bottled feelings than to art it out? Toronto is home to many art centres. The AGO even offers workshops throughout the year, for both children and youth.
Pick Some Flowers
Whether you’re plucking them from the Earth or visiting your local flower shop to get a bouquet, flowers are an instant pick-me-up. Try your hand at flower arranging with a class from Lilium or learn how to make your own terrarium at Crown Flora Studio. Also, studies suggest that floral scents improve one’s mood. Lavender and jasmine help to relax the mind and body by alleviating sleeping problems and may even help to ease depression.
In the wise words of Tears for Fears, scream! Shout! Let it all out! Believe it or not, screaming is relaxing. It’s even an ancient form of Chinese medicine. The Chinese believe that yelling is good for the lungs. Not only that, it’s more fun to do in a group. Everyone will scream or yell back, likely followed by a wave of uncontrollable laughter. Just don’t yell if you’re alone and/or in public, for obvious reasons—unless you’re doing it into a lavender-scented, silk-covered pillow (hey, we’ve all been there.)
Read a Book
As George R.R. Martin wrote in A Dance With Dragons, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.” Picking up a book will not only add to your knowledge, but it’ll let you escape reality for a bit and explore a new world—oh, and make you more empathic, and apparently, wiser. Books open windows into other experiences, which will leave you feeling like a new person when you’re done. This sensation is actually the goal for a literature-centric treatment known as Bibliotherapy. Bibliotherapy’s roots go all the way back to Ancient Greece. According to Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, there was a phrase inscribed above the entrance to a library in Thebes that, translated, read “House of Healing for the Soul.” Reading as a form of therapy has been shown to be a very effective way to treat depression. Even more, a recent study suggests that reading a book before you sleep helps battle any sleeping problems (including insomnia) as it is “more than merely a distraction, but an active engaging of the imagination, one that “causes you to enter an altered state of consciousness.”
Cue Pharrell’s Happy! According to the BBC, “We like music because it makes us feel good…In 2001, neuroscientists Anne Blood and Robert Zatorre at McGill University in Montreal provided an answer. Using magnetic resonance imaging they showed that people listening to pleasurable music had activated brain regions called the limbic and paralimbic areas, which are connected to euphoric reward responses, like those we experience from sex, good food and addictive drugs. Those rewards come from a gush of a neurotransmitter called dopamine.” So, in short, music is a drug. Get some.
Did we miss any amazing natural pick-me-ups? Let View The Vibe know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.