Being able to keep a positive mood balance is a key brain marker of resilience according to extensive research and, luckily, one that you can shift and improve no matter what your starting point for mood may be right now. Something called learned optimism is one way we can shift how positive we feel over time and this is a brain skill anyone can learn, although some people find it more challenging than others.

Everyone’s starting point and mood balance are different. It fluctuates over time and life circumstances. So even if you have a low mood setpoint or low mood or issues like depression, and mood disorders run in your family (which puts you at higher risk), it is not set-in-stone. If you suffer currently from depression or a sublter version of chronically low moods this is something that is shiftable too. Despite the part that genetics plays, you can shift your mood setpoint on a brain level over time – and this has been proven in many brain imaging studies on depression.

Mood balance and optimism is so important for resilience because when the brain and mind get stuck in the negative, the brain wiring starts to change too. For example, the left front brain can begin to become underactive or sluggish. Essentially, the brain goes into withdrawal and protection mode and can get stuck in this brain avoidance pattern.

We see these patterns when we brain map people suffering from depression or chronic low moods.

The withdraw and protect mode is the brain mode that dominates when we don’t feel safe and is meant to be protective (and it may have been for our cavemen ancestors). However, in modern life, it can be maladaptive, especially if you tend towards depression.

In the caveman days, this mode was probably quite useful. The brain activated the withdraw and protect mode in winter to keep us indoors in the long dark hours or after an injury, so we stayed inside and didn’t venture too far before recovering physically. Back then, most of the threats we faced were sudden, immediate, acute, and physical dangers – not the chronic mental low-grade dangers of modern life that can trigger the same brain response, especially if you are genetically susceptible.

Often people may not meet the full criteria for major depression but they feel like they have struggled in this mood area for many years but just managed to get on with it. It is entirely possible to shift this brain baseline to get greater happiness out of daily life.

Even adding in a self-compassion five-minute practice each day can help shift the brain into a more positive, resilient state due to the mood-boosting brain effects of this type of meditation practice. Learned optimism is a related skillset and can also help our brains in a positive direction and help us see things from the glass half full perspective.

On the other side of the happy brain spectrum, people who suffer from severe medical conditions, including a cancer diagnosis or heart attack, who can maintain their positive mood balance despite major traumatic health events have better outcomes. Research proves this.

If a positive mood is one of your strengths, even when you have significant challenges going on, you have a major resilience skill on your side, and this can be enhanced even further with some simple practices to help you get through challanging life or health circumstances.

Tips on Positive Mood

  • CBD, limonene, THC micro dosing
  • New Medicines:
    • Ketamine therapy-available now in the UK
    • psilocybin-US FDA approved for treatment resistant depression
    • DMT (early stage research)
    • LSD (very early stage research)
  • mind-body:
    • Loving Kindness Meditation
    • learned optimism practices
  • Diet:
    • Level 1 Resilience Medicine Keto Diet-try this first
    • Level 2 Resilience Medicine Keto Diet
    • cut out alcohol completely for at least a 3-6 month period to assess its affect on your mood (research shows alcohol has a significant negative effect on mood for many people even at very low quantities eg. a drink a day or less)
  • Supplements:
    • SAM-e
    • Folic acid
    • Vitamin D
    • St Johns Wort Standardised tablets (only if not taking lots of other medications due to high drug/drug/herb interactions)
    • Saffron
    • Consider gut healing supplements if any signs of leaky gut