6 Ways to Improve your Mood with PCOS
Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), the most common cause of infertility, are prone to a variety of mood and anxiety disorders and on top of that, suffer from high depression scores and are more susceptible to depression in general. (1)
Here are 6 things you can do to lift your mood:
Studies show that exercise can improve mood. A 2010 study on mood enhancement after aerobic exercise showed improvements in mood right after the workout whose effect lasted up to 12 hours. (2)
Just 20 minutes of low intensity exercise 3 times a week can increase energy by up to 20% and reduce fatigue by 65%. (3)
The most effect on mood and mental health is attributed to exercise done in a social setting. Team sports are followed by cycling and aerobic gym exercise, running or jogging , recreational sports, winter or water sports, walking, and, last but not least, household chores. (4)
Since the benefits of working out take immediate effect and last up to 12 hours, I love to start my day with a 20 minute walk followed by stretching or a 30 minute HIIT workout.
2. Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes
When we eat carbohydrates our blood glucose levels rise and the hormone insulin is secreted by our pancreas to get the sugar into the cells for energy. A diet high in carbs, especially in refined sugar and processed foods, can send our blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride. After eating, our blood sugar rises, leaving us feeling energized for a short while, only to crash after 1 to 2 hours to make us feel sluggish and tired.
To keep energy levels and mood at a steady level, try to avoid blood sugar spikes. Start your day with a breakfast full of healthy fats, protein, fibre and little carbohydrates. This way, you set the tone for the day. Always combine carbs with protein, healthy fats (e.g avocado, olive oil, nuts) and fibre to slow down the absorption of sugar and starches and cut down on the snacking between meals.
Sugar has a powerful effect on our brain chemicals. A study conducted by Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas found that rodents prefer the consumption of sugar over cocaine. The researchers say: “Consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar.” (5) So, once you are on the sugar roller coaster it is hard to get off. Sugar just makes you feel better, but once the low hits, your mood drops. Try to reduce your sugar consumption to keep blood sugar and mood stable and that way get off the roller coaster ride.
3. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are becoming more and more popular these days. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are generally known to be uplifting. There is little, but some evidence that sweet orange and lemon essential oils can boost energy and mood.(6). You can inhale it directly or mix it with a carrier oil, such as jojoba or coconut, and apply it to your chest, nose or wrists.
Lavender essential oil is the most commonly used oil and is known to be calming. A 2013 study found that taking 80 mg of lavender oil orally via capsules alleviated insomnia, anxiety and depression. (7)
I love to add it to relaxing baths or apply it on my wrists or my pillow before going to sleep. I also use it in the mornings when there is a stressful day ahead. I put it on the back of my neck or under my feet to not smell too much like lavender.
4. Take Adaptogenic Herbs Like Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic herb and adaptogen. It can affect GABA and serotonin in a positive way. These neurotransmitters are known to play a role in mood and anxiety. (8)
Ashwagandha soothes the nervous system: Health challenges such as anxiety, fatigue and insomnia from stress are all good reason to take this herb. (9)
It is widely available in powdered form, capsules or liquid extract. See product for dosage recommendations.
5. Push Aside Negative Thoughts and Practice Gratitude
Thoughts can be very powerful and have the ability to either positively or negatively affect our mood. Try to push negative thoughts aside and replace them with positive thinking.
Practice gratitude. Keep a journal where you write down all the things you are grateful for or stick some notes to your dressing mirror or desk. Keep counting your blessings and jotting them down. Refer back to your gratitude notes and journal entries when negativity seems to overwhelm you.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is absolutely essential when it comes to balancing your hormones naturally and “being in a good mood”.
Due to artificial light and entertainment via television and phones, we are tempted every night to postpone our bed and sleep time.
In order to feel your best, get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Create a bedtime routine for yourself to help your body calm down. Avoid artificial light, especially blue light. Light keeps the sleep hormone melatonin from being secreted.
Also try to avoid caffeine intake 6 to 8 hours before going to sleep, so you can benefit from restorative, deep sleep and won’t wake up at night.
If you are tired and moody during the day, take a rest, reflect on why you are feeling the way you do and take a power nap. It works wonders. If you do not the chance to take a nap, practice deep breathing. Sit on a chair, inhale deeply into your belly. Relax and clear your mind. Do this multiple times a day. It will help calm your nervous system and release stress.
Changing our lifestyle and diet takes time. What can you do this week to enhance your mood and improve your well being?
I hope this article is helpful to you. What would you add?
Lots of love,