Written by Girl Birthday Gift
Last week, I shared my inner thoughts on how I've been stuck in a funk lately, and I am aiming to fix it! I came across an article on Huff Post on ten things you can do to be happier (even backed by science!), and I've decided to incorporate them into my life.
1. Exercise — 20 minutes makes all the difference. We all know that exercise boosts our endorphins, and endorphins make us happy (thanks, Elle Woods!). Even if we only do it for a mere ten minutes or so, it is enough to get those happy juices flowing. The first 20 minutes are the ones that provide the most health benefits. And even if we aren't necessarily losing weight, it has been shown that our body image and overall happiness improves.
2. Sleep more! Science has shown that when we don't sleep enough, we are more prone to negativity. The amygdala is the part of the brain in charge of processing negative stimuli, and the hippocampus is responsible for processing pleasant, positive stimuli. When we are sleep-deprived, it takes a greater toll on our hippocampus than the amygdala, so we are biologically more likely to focus on the negative. And ain't nobody got time for negative shenanigans!
3. Move closer to work, and take necessary breaks. While this doesn't directly affect me, I have always lived close to my places of work in the past, and I will admit it made going to work a heck of a lot more enjoyable. Traffic is a general mood buster for everyone, and having a larger house to compensate for the long haul to work every day does not improve it, according to studies. Since this doesn't apply to me right now, I am going to branch out and say that as a SAHM, breaks are necessary for me regain sanity. Even if it is 15 minutes, or the luxury of a few hours, those uninterrupted moments recharge and are a definite mood booster!
4. Spend quality time with friends and family. This is one of the top five regrets of people on their deathbed — that they didn't spend enough time and energy focusing on their relationships. There was a study done stating relationships are worth more than $100,000. The study showed that an increase in the level of social activity was worth up to $100,000 based on the overall quality of life and satisfaction it brings, but that actual changes in income are only able to buy a very small amount of happiness. I am the WORST at calling friends and family, but whenever I make the effort to make the call or hang out for a quick afternoon, I feel intensely elevated and purposeful.
5. Go outside and get some fresh air! In fact, 13.9°C is the optimal temperature for happiness. For us Americans, that would be 57.02°F. No wonder everyone loves fall so much! It's not the pumpkin spiced latte after all! It's the dip in weather! But seriously, getting outside it good for the mind and soul. Spending 20 minutes in fresh air has been found to improve mood and our thinking and working memory.
6. Help and serve others. In fact, 100 hours per year does the trick! It calculates to two hours of service per week, or 17 minutes per day — we all have the time for that! Studies have shown that doing something for others produces the single most reliable increase in well-being of anything that has been tested. So perhaps, this should be #1 on the list. Also, Mother Teresa. One of the few legitimately self-actualized people to have ever lived, based on this very principle.
7. Smile, backed by positive thinking. Studies on customer service workers who "fake" smiled actually ended up in worse moods when they were upset. The trick to really practice smiling is to back it up with a positive feeling (a vacation, a joke, etc) and to smile with your eye sockets. This type of smiling will lead to an improved mood. And smiling has even been found to alleviate pain!
8. Plan a trip, but don't actually take one — try something new each day. A study published in applied research in the quality of life showed that the peak of an individual's happiness when going on vacation was the actual planning part because of the anticipation of something new and different. A study also found that watching your favorite movie can raise your endorphins by 27%. Basically, a break from the monotony of the everyday and a change in scenery is necessary for a lift in spirits. Do something new and refreshing each day, even if it is the tiniest thing.
9. Meditate. If consistently practiced, we can rewire our brains to be more focused and positive, just the way we feel after we meditate. Scans of the brain after meditation show a huge change in the structures, which shows we are more content, calm, and overall happy.
10. Keep an attitude of gratitude. Life satisfaction has been scientifically shown to increase when we practice an outward display of gratitude. Whether it's keeping a gratitude journal, sharing two or three things you are grateful for with a friend or significant other, or verbally expressing your heartfelt gratitude to someone, they all have been proven to make people happier. Amen to all of above!
I am sick of feeling out of control of my own life, and I am making the choice to rise above the fog and frowny faces — starting with my own anti-depression movement! I will be doing the following ten things every day. I usually start this kind of thing in November because it's the socially prompted season to do it, but I want this to be a permanent life change. One I practice each day, with intention and purpose, starting today.
I will sporadically be sharing some of the things I am doing on my social media channels, using the hashtag #10happyhabits. I invite you to join along in incorporating these ten habits of happiness into your daily life as well, so we can inspire and encourage one another. I would love to see how you keep your life full of vitality and joy.
Here's to the best days ahead of us!
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