Between work, family and finances life can get pretty hectic, so it’s no wonder we feel stressed and anxious when we try to juggle everything all at once.
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for the bad day blues, but there are a couple of tricks you can keep up your sleeve to boost your positivity, even when it seems impossible.
Believe it or not exercise can actually make you happy. During long or vigorous workout sessions your body releases endorphins: one of the four “happiness hormones” known to block pain signals and produce feelings of well-being.
The main purpose of endorphins is to lessen the negative effects of anxiety and trauma while generating a sense of calmness and euphoria –kind of like the drug morphine [source]. Not a bad deal when you are feeling down and out.
Happy Hint: Try taking a brisk 30 minute walk or jog around the block to get the blood pumping and the endorphins going. Plus, a little fresh air can make a big difference.
Remember those “happiness hormones” from before? Turns out you can get them from the sun too!
When sunlight hits the optic nerve it releases serotonin – a neurotransmitter like endorphins- known to boost your mood. The more sun you get, the more serotonin you produce [source]…and the happier you feel.
This sun/serotonin relationship is also thought to be the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition resulting in depression and moodiness during winter months due to lack of daylight (=less serotonin) [source].
Happy Hint: Spend 10-15 minutes -or more if you have time- soaking up the rays (with sunscreen). Walk, read a book, listen to music or practice meditative breathing techniques: it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are in the sun.
What do you do when you are driving home and your favourite song comes on? Turn up the volume and sing along of course… maybe even at the top of your lungs. Chances are, when that song is over you will feel uplifted and maybe even a little happier.
Based on a study performed in 2009, “the intensity of pleasure experienced from music listening has led some researchers to suggest that it may act upon the dopamine reward system of the brain” [source]. Dopamine -you guessed it- is another “happiness hormone” and functions as a neurotransmitter that regulates the pleasure-seeking function of the brain; its levels increase when a reward or desire is obtained thus generating feelings of contentment or joy [source].
What this ultimately means is that listening to certain types of music or songs can generate the same effects on the body (though perhaps at lower levels) as other “natural stimuli” such as food and sex—or even drugs and gambling [source].
Happy Hint: Create a “happy” playlist of your favourite upbeat songs and dance the blues away.
“Meditation is an ancient tradition that has been scientifically studied and shown to have a big positive impact on our minds and bodies,” [source].
Well if that doesn’t say it all, this will: numerous studies have found that frequent meditation can actually make you nicer, more compassionate and even optimistic, in addition to promoting feelings of happiness, restfulness and overall well being. Other important benefits to meditation include: improved memory, lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system [source 1, source 2].
So basically, if you don’t already practice meditation, now might be good time to start.
Happy Hint: Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Then follow the simple meditation techniques listed on this website to help clear your mind.