Just as everybody looks different, so each person’s version of happiness looks different.
I don’t know if it is just me, but I find that the colder weather brings out a tendency to want to hibernate, curl up somewhere and shut the rest of the world out. I am sure this is related to our survival instincts, but everything seems a little bit harder and take a bit more effort in winter – including being happy.
So today we are looking at quick and easy ways to be a happier person – when you can’t afford that exotic beach holiday you are dreaming about.
Yoga – can help ease depressive symptoms as well as anxiety
Load up on leafy greens – dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in folate, which is linked to a decrease in negative moods and depression. It works by helping to produce dopamine in the brain
Try cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – CBT is a proven treatment for clinical depression and anxiety. It works by helping users recognise and then reverse harmful thought patterns, replacing them with positive ones
Buy flowers for yourself or someone else – Harvard researchers found fresh flowers increases compassion for others, as well as boosting energy and enthusiasm for you
Smile – the simple act of smiling, even if you have to force it, might help to activate your brain, leaving you in a better mood
Try mediation – studies have shown meditation to be a proven stress-buster with no harmful side effects. Sitting on the floor chanting isn’t your thing? There a numerous phone apps like Headspace which offer a range of programs you can enjoy anywhere – in the car, on a plane, at your desk without feeling like a fool
Turn on a light box – light therapy is recognised as an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). To feel its full effects use it as part of a daily routine. Don’t have a light box – just open the curtains. A brighter workspace can also help improve mode
Go outside – 20-25 minutes of sunlight will lighten your mood naturally. Vitamin D deficiency makes people prone to depression, anxiety and tiredness.
Eat mushrooms – the only plant source of natural vitamin D, which helps boost serotonin in the brain.
Smell the oranges – don’t have an orange handy? Use a few drops of a citrus essential oil on pressure points to create positive chemical reaction in your brain
Eat carbs as an afternoon snack – healthy, whole-grain sources of carbs can boost mood-boosting chemicals in the brain. A low-carb diet can make you feel sad and stressed
Play with your pet – A study found that patting a dog for only 15 minutes releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin—all of which are mood-enhancing hormones, while lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Why not take a break to bask in the joy a pet can bring?
Take microbreaks – Research shows that people who take quick breaks during their workday to watch funny videos online get a high emotional payoff and report feeling more energetic and happy with fewer negative emotions. Not only will this improve your mental health overall; this is an easy way to turn around a bad mood in less than a minute—plus, you can get a metabolism boost, too!
Listen to music – Enjoy the effects of some dopamine and sit back to enjoy the connections and memories that a favourite song can trigger
And sing along – University of Manchester researchers discovered that a tiny organ in the inner ear (called the sacculus) is connected to a part of your brain that registers pleasure. The sacculus registers frequency notes that are associated with singing almost instantly, giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling. So, go ahead and sing in the shower, belt it out in your car, or get up on that karaoke stage.
Eat chocolate – seriously, who needs to be told this makes you happy? Chocolate, chicken and eggs contain tryptophan – which boosts the production of serotonin in the brain, leading to better moods
Drink coffee – A Harvard study found women who drink at least two cups of coffee regularly had a 15% lower risk of depression than those who did not. Energy boost + mood boost = winner!
Sip on some green tea – A study found that people who drank five or more cups of green tea per day had a 20% lower level of stress than those who drank less than one.
Make a human connection – A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that human touch releases those feel-good chemicals like serotonin, as well as reduces blood pressure and heart rate making you feel more relaxed. A massage is a great way to create a connection, improve your flexibility and reduce pain at the same time.
Consume healthy fats – avocados & nuts both contain healthy fat, which slows digestion and evens out blood sugar levels, leaving you calm and full at the same time
Eat more salmon – containing omega-3 fatty acids, the same as avocado and nuts, salmon can help to maintain brain function in the areas of mood and emotion. Fish oil supplements are another option for those who don’t like fish
Spray on some topical magnesium – magnesium has been shown to help improve moodiness, insomnia, anxiety, irritability and migraines. Our ancient soils are depleted of magnesium, meaning we are not getting enough from the foods we eat. Magnesium is available in oral (tablet) or topical (skin application) forms, but research shown oral forms are not absorbed as well as topical applications. The effects can be felt almost immediately, with some people reporting feeling changes within 30 seconds of application
Take a mini-holiday – even if your budget doesn’t stretch to that tropical beach holiday you are dreaming about, a couple of days away from your routine can help to improve your mood, particularly if you spend them in the company of people you love.
There are so many ways to brighten up your day, and that of those around you.
Smile, and have an awesome day!