If All Else Fails, Make Food and Exercise Your Friends


For a recent project, I have been doing lots of research on mental health and how important exercise and the right diet can be to happiness and a positive mood. Although I am a ridiculously unreliable exerciser (despite my love for yoga, hiking, and looking good!), I must admit that every time I break a sweat I do feel good about myself. I also seem to see invisible physical benefits very, very quickly (yeah, I definitely have a smaller tummy now that I ran for 15 minutes…definitely).

Get Your Exercise

Physical Activity Improves Mood

Similarly, I have a love-hate relationship with health food. At times, I am all about whole foods, shunning processed or anything with added salt or sugar or fat or any ingredients I can’t pronounce. Other times (like around the holidays), I am a sugar, fat, and carb aficionado. The more chocolate, butter, and booze the better! On the whole, though, I like to think that I am a relatively healthy eater, and I take pride in forcing my husband to be the same.

The natural buzz I get from eating well  and yes, exercising occasionally, is not just self-righteous health-nut pride, but Mother Nature’s way of saying “Yes, this is good for you – do more of this and all will be well!”

Food and Exercise Can Improve Mood

Foods with complex carbohydrates, magnesium and selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, amino acids, and a variety of vitamins and antioxidants can help stimulate the production of feel-good chemicals in your brain. Boosting your production of serotonin, endorphins, fatty gray matter, and neurotransmitters in your brain translates to elevated energy levels, improved mood, better sleep, less frustration and anxiety, better stress management techniques, fewer symptoms of depression, improved memory, and even higher levels of motivation and alertness.

Some star foods for these benefits include bananas, spinach, salmon, walnuts, dark chocolate (hooray!), milk, brown rice, and turkey.

Get Fishy With It

Eat well to boost your mood

The somewhat harder pill to swallow is that exercise is not only essential for great physical health but also for excellent emotional and mental well-being. Working up a sweat, breathing hard, and stretching your muscles prompts your brain to release feel-good chemicals and produce hormones that have many of the same effects as the above-mentioned foods. Exercise can help you relax, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and reduce symptoms of depression. As an added benefit, exercising in bright daylight can help people with Seasonal Affective Disorder combat  symptoms of seasonal depression.

So the next time you have nowhere to go on a weekend night or nobody to hang out with, swap the TV and the take-out line for a jog and a salmon and veggie-licious experience that will leave you feeling content and relaxed. Who knew that exercise and food could be such healthy companions for your mood? Sign me up!

Once you get the ball rollin’…


It’s hard to stop!

I am quite fortunate to have started the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor at a time in my life when I had the opportunity to meet tons of new people all at a similar point in their lives – meaning they could all be potential Forever Friends.

College and university life opens new doors to social opportunities than almost any other time in life, I believe, even for people who had previously been shut away behind their career doors or in the close-knit everyday world of raising a family.

This month’s progress on the Friendship Meter is going much better than last month’s! Fortunately, with everyone trying to get to know people, there have been plenty of invitations. I am thankful that a potential friend I had been more interested in getting to know wanted the same; we went out to dinner with our respective significant others and had a blast.  We got along so well I think I would actually feel comfortable calling her out of the blue to grab a coffee or go to a local event. Don’t know that we’re quite ready for the shopping test (I have a particular shopping style that few but my sister truly understand!) but we’ve got time!

In addition, I contacted an acquaintance I had known in AZ, and we got together for coffee the other day.  We fell into easy conversation, and although we were never close despite having mutual friends, it’s nice to have the potential there of getting to know her better and to have a friend available in case the “fit” hits the “shan,” if you know what I mean!

So all in all, a successful and productive week on the Friendship Endeavor project.  What’s better, it feels like this is just the beginning!  Once I opened myself up to meeting people and deciding to make friends, the calls, texts, and invites forged by my own deliberate attempts at friendliness started paying off, and I feel happier and healthier for it already.  Onward!