We would all like to be happier and science is now able to show what really affects mood and what we can do to increase our positive feelings. Here are five easy ways to start feeling better about life.
1) Wake up slowly. The sound of an alarm does just that – it alarms you. It actually triggers a fright or flight response, releasing adrenaline and other stress hormones into your system. Try using a softer alarm – like soft music or nature sounds.
2) Be mindful. Mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress and promote happiness so while you’re having your breakfast or are in the shower try to focus only on what you’re doing. If you’re in the shower, focus on the feeling of the water, the sounds and smells, the patterns the water makes as it flows down the wall. If you’re drinking a cup of coffee, take the time to smell it and to savour the taste. Introduce short periods of mindfulness during your day and notice how much more peaceful and contented you feel.
3) Breathe. Many of us have learned to breathe shallowly. Try taking deeper breaths and making your out-breath longer than your in-breath. This triggers the release of endorphins (the feel-good hormones) in the brain. So remember to breathe in for four and out for seven to start feeling happier.
4) Go outside. Levels of serotonin (another feel-good hormone) are directly affected by exposure to light. Indoors we only get about 100 units of light per hour. Outside, even on an overcast day, that goes up to 10,000 units and can be as much as 100,000 units on a sunny day. So boost your serotonin by spending at least 20 minutes outside every day.
5) Count your blessings! Being grateful is known as being one of the most powerful mood-boosters. Start a gratitude journal and write down five things every day that you can feel genuinely grateful for having in your life. Get in touch with that feeling of gratitude. You can repeat the same things but try to include some things that have happened that day. Start your morning by thinking about those things and fall asleep thinking about them.
Follow these tips for a month and notice how much lighter and happier you start to feel!