We all have days when we just don't feel it. Positivity and spontaneous joy are a struggle. The glass looks half empty and shaking ourselves out of this mood feels difficult. Instead of withdrawing, armed with comfort food of choice, try one of our simple happiness tips to turn the day, month and year around.
Fake it til you make it
Even if you are having a bad day or week or month it is possible to feel positive while thinking positive. Try this experiment….Close your eyes and think about cutting open a juicy lemon. Imagine squeezing that lemon and holding half to your nose and deeply inhaling the citrus scent. Is your mouth watering? The power of a positive thought or even a smile (even if you don’t feel like it) can work on the body in the same way decreasing cortisol and increasing serotonin. This will create an increased sense of well-being. Happiness is a habit you can actively practice by being aware of your thoughts and high jacking them in a positive way.
Research by the founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman shows that people who write letters of gratitude to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness, and lower on depression scales. This can also have a lasting effect on a person’s mood. Hack into an unhappy mood by stopping and either writing, typing or making a mental note of 5 things you are grateful for right now, in this moment. Count your blessings, you will not stop at 5!
Regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem. You can also benefit from this in an instant. Even if you don’t feel like it get up and move. Dance, run, walk or visit the gym you will feel an immediate lift.
Connect with others
I mean really connect. Not connecting to Facebook and browsing the timeline of 500 people you wouldn’t speak to in the street. Phone a good friend, visit a family member, arrange a drink with your sister. Supportive and close relationships increase our happiness levels and talking through things with our nearest and dearest makes us feel better.
Neurological studies show that we are wired to respond emotionally to music. We can use this to our advantage when we want to instantly lift our mood. Should we listen to a particular type of music? According to studies we should.
Happy music, usually featuring a fast tempo and written in a major key, can cause a person to breathe faster, a physical sign of happiness [source: Leutwyler].
Combine a fast tempo with dancing around the living room can lift a low mood instantly.
Hugging or walking a pet can increase our happy hormones. Even looking at images of animals boosts our mood (explains the cute kitten image overload). Recently a study by Berkley University showed that watching nature programmes makes us happier. Berkeley's Professor Dacher Keltner found that our connection to nature enhanced our attention, cognitive performance and sense of calm. So dig out the david Attenborough DVD’s if you want to lift your mood.
Instead of reaching for sugar laden comfort food work on improving your mood with the right foods. Keep yourself hydrated, opt for a protein rich snack and avoid sugar spikes. The charity mind suggests food containing healthy fats for brain health such as ‘oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs’.
Connecting to nature can have a profound effect on our sense of wellbeing. Various studies have proven that being out in nature improves our mood, cognition and health. If you are having a down day go outside. Sit in the fresh air, go for a walk or visit a wood or park and feel the difference.
Be of service
Numerous studies have shown that acts of kindness have an immediate and long term effect on our happiness. Being of service to others can take you outside yourself, bring fulfillment, give you meaning, widen your perspective and bring to focus the things that really matter in life. Offer to help a friend in need, volunteer for a charity or contribute to your community.
Make time to do whatever makes you feel nurtured. If you are feeling in the doldrums schedule in some ‘me time’. Take a bath, book a massage, cook, go to bed early, whatever reminds you that taking care of you is top priority.