What works for me:
- Regular sleep schedule – This one was hard, but it really paid off. Good sleep hygiene, carefully structuring my day so I’m calm by bedtime, plenty of bright natural light in the bedroom, and probably a lot more I’ve forgotten.
- Lots of sunlight – Being near windows when I’m indoors, spending more time out of doors. In the cloudy parts of winter, I supplement with a blue-LED panel.
- Low use of drugs (which, yes, includes coffee) – I have caffeine about once a week, and alcohol maybe twice a week. I’m especially careful with red wine, which seems to have a much stronger aftereffect on my moods than beer or spirits.
- Frequent, vigorous physical exercise – Running, cycling, and hiking definitely stabilize my moods and make me more relaxed. A short run is nice, but I get the most mood benefit from things that last more than an hour.
- Yoga, massage, steam – Being anxious makes me tense up. Tense muscles make me anxious. I break that cycle by really relaxing the muscles.
- Minimal refined carbs – I don’t know why, but the more sugar and white flour in my diet, the more prone I am to mood swings.
- Supplements – My doctor recommended a B-100 and a sublingual B-12 daily to minimize the effects of stress. If I skip them for a while, I really notice. I also take fish oil, which studies show helps with depression.
- A quiet home – I used to have loud upstairs neighbors, and their presence created a continuous baseline of anxiety that made it harder to deal with other things. Having a quiet refuge makes it easier to recover from the stresses of daily life.
- Meditation – The practice itself makes me calmer. But the real benefit for me was in learning to treat my moods like weather: something to endure but not worry about. I used to get anxious about being anxious, and depressed about being depressed. I’m much better now at just riding out the waves of emotion that we all have.
I hope this helps! This is what I’ve arrived at after years of experimentation, and I’d encourage you to keep experimenting yourself. Everybody’s different, and I think there’s a lot of value in the experimental process itself.