I do not know about you but around here December and the Holidays have gone by at warp speed. Here are some ideas to decompress and start the New Year off with a little less stress:
Since the beginning of the millennium, scientists have been researching the connection between happiness and health. They can now conclude with a certain level of confidence that having a sense of peace, fulfillment, and purpose leads to a healthier and longer life. One social scientist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, authored a book called The How of Happiness. She reveals that nearly every aspect of health seems to be affected by happiness (or lack thereof): physical and mental well-being, energy levels, immune function, relationships with others, and even our life-spans.
More and more evidence suggests that being happier can actually help you live longer! A study of 180 senior women revealed that two-thirds of the gloomy participants died before their 85th birthday, while on average the happy ladies lived 9 years longer. This small focus group may not be a predictor of the population and it’s obviously not the gospel. But, if it’s even possible that you can live longer just by being positive, isn’t it worth a try?
We put together a list of 10 simple strategies for a happier, healthier you. At MVLNC, we hope 2013 is your best year yet!
1. Be an Optimist
Thinking optimistically is a very effective way to increase your well-being. Optimistic people are healthier, have more friends and are more successful at work. As the saying goes, it’s not the events in our lives that make us happy or sad—it’s our perception of them. Optimistic people see problems as temporary, which helps them to bounce back quickly after a hardship.
2. Simplify Your Life
The “Simplicity Movement” is a newer way of thinking—it aims to achieve a less stressful, more meaningful life. To do this, we must slow down and be more balanced, deliberate and thoughtful. This may mean de-cluttering your home, downsizing your career ambitions or not being so “connected” via the internet. Mental health professionals have joined the movement, focusing on how simple living can help alleviate tension-related reactions such as insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, neck and shoulder spasms and chronic fatigue. One of my favorite ways to simply is to take one day off a week from being “connected” – it really makes a difference in feeling like I have taken a break.
3. Develop Discipline
Manage your time and priorities because self-discipline creates happiness. Happy people tend to believe they’re more in control of their lives and take an active approach to solving problems. Using self-discipline can be difficult at first, because we don’t “feel like it.” If you wait to feel like it before exercising, working or paying your bills on time, it may never happen.
People who meditate often are usually happier than those who don’t. Not sure how to meditate? Choose a simple word such as “calm” or “peace.” Repeat the word to yourself for 10-20 minutes. Try to steer away from everyday thoughts and focus back on your repetition. Meditation can also take place while walking or doing a favorite activity that allows you to not think about everyday stressors. I find when cycling or running all of the sudden I find I am not thinking about daily life. So be open to what can be considered methods of Meditation.
5. Change Your Breathing
When you are stressed out or angry, your breathing changes. Long patterns of unhealthy breathing patterns can cause a higher pulse rate and high blood pressure. When you feel stress or anger building, breathe in deeply and slower. Try the technique: in through the nose, out through the mouth. Within minutes, your bad mood will fade away.
6. Laugh More Often
According to Dr. Oz, laughter can lower your heart rate and blood pressure as well as reduce the constriction in your blood vessels. It can also help with your mental health. We all know it’s fun to laugh and it feels good, but it may come as a surprise to learn that it has medicinal qualities. Studies have shown that laughter can help you work through emotional issues.
7. Increase Sleep
It’s difficult to be happy if you’re constantly tired and struggling to find enough energy to get through the day. A good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol—risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
8. Balance Time Alone & Time with Others
Research studies suggest that people who spend most of their time alone experience higher than average rates of depression. However, spending all of your time with others can be overwhelming. You should place value on your alone time as much as that with others. Everyone needs balance in this area.
9. Increase Omega-3
New research shows that Omega-3fatty acidscan improve moodand well-being. Already well known for their ability to protect against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, Omega-3 fatty acids may be highly effective in preventing and managing depression and cognitive decline, according to a growing body of evidence. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil, flaxseed oil, cereal, basil and broccoli.
Of course…exercise is on every list, right? We left this one for last, but it’s probably the most important! Daily exercise can have a big impact on how positive we feel. After demonstrating that 30 minutes of exercise three times a week is just as effective as drug therapy for relieving depression symptoms in the short term, medical center researchers have concluded that continued exercise reduces the chances of recurring depression.
BONUS STRATEGY: Spend Time With Fido
Spending time with your dog or cat can really help change your attitude and might help you accomplish some strategies 1 – 10. Walking your dog will give you exercise and time away from those electronics. Simply petting your dog or cat can help improve your mental outlook for the day. Don’t have a dog or cat ? Visit a friend that does or volunteer at the local rescue that needs help with exercising and caring for those pets looking and waiting for their forever home.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!