By: Sara Matz | A two-minute read.
We’re rapidly approaching winter, and if you’re like me, Seasonal Affective Disorder (also aptly named S.A.D. or seasonal depression) can really derail your creativity. More than 3 million Americans report SAD to their doctors each year and lucky for us you can combat it with vitamin D or a sunlight mimicking bulb. Late fall and winter aren’t the only times we may have our writing hindered by low serotonin or dopamine levels, and there are tons of tricks to make your brain happy! But first, what ARE serotonin and dopamine? Basically, serotonin and dopamine are the neurotransmitters your brain makes that effect forms your mood, memory, sleep, appetite, and just makes you feel happy!
Let’s be fair, this is not a cure for a larger problem, instead, these are little pick-me-ups for when we’re having trouble getting started.
Smells can remind us of a happy experience, place or feeling. I know for myself, the smell of matzo ball soup brings me back to my Bubby’s kitchen. Aromatherapy is great for sending your imagination on a journey without having to leave your home. Smells like lavender and lemon naturally raise the level of neurotransmitters, and for me make me think of being out in nature when that isn’t available. Being able to write outdoors can give you a huge mental boost, taking your self to the park or even your own yard can do wonders for mood and creativity and I do recommend it for when the weather is nice. Peppermint and Eucalyptus are commonly used for headaches and clearing out your sinuses, both of which can make you unfocused. I like to put a little bit of peppermint essential oil on my temples, wrists, and the tip of my nose when I am trying to relax away a headache, be sure to add a little water to your oils, the can be harsh on your skin.
Now on to my favorite part of this top, Snacks!! Think of something quick, easy and on the healthier side when it comes to a pick-me-up snack. Following a recipe gets your brain working a little harder than just opening a bag of chips or putting peanut butter on a piece of celery, and the payout is usually a bit better too ;). It’s common to joke about how tryptophan makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving, but it also can raise your production of neurotransmitters naturally. Some common foods high in tryptophan are cheese, pineapple, spinach, salmon and of course turkey! Touching back on S.A.D., eating foods high in Vitamin D is a great alternative for when sunlight isn’t available to you. Fatty seafood tends to be very high and Vitamin D and some doctors suggest having 2 servings a week to balance the Vitamin D you lose in the shorter winter days. A lot of dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D as well as orange juice and cereal. To increase the dopamine your brain makes, eat foods high in tyrosine, which is found in bananas, avocado, almonds, and beans. When looking writer’s block in the face, try to make yourself a little bite to eat with a mixture of these vitamins – and remember unless it’s time to eat a full meal a small snack will keep you from feeling sluggish and in a food coma.
Nothing gets me motivated more than music! Whether you listen to classic rock, pop, rap, or really anything, listening to something you enjoy can get your brain firing on all cylinders. Music isn’t the only sound that can get you motivated though! A white noise machine is great for blocking out distracting sounds, and some people believe listening to the “shh” sound can promote brain and memory function. A new trend in brain games has been surfacing named Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR. The theory behind ASMR are sounds such as whispering, crinkling paper, chewing, tapping of fingernails, and many other stimuli that can cause shivers or tingles down your neck. People have started using ASMR to combat depression, aid going to sleep, and focus better. This tingling reaction can cause your brain to feel a bit of euphoria with the release of neurotransmitters and, once relaxed, kick your creative drive into motion.
Of course, nothing really gets you ready to write your next book as much as having a well-balanced lifestyle. Finding time for all of your hobbies, as well as getting enough sleep at night and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle are all a part of keeping your mind active and ready to write your masterpiece.
As one of the Author Success Consultants for AnewPress, it’s my goal to assist you in getting your book from concept to sales. If you have any questions about publishing, let me know.
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