We are at that time of the year where we are just completing winter and moving towards spring. Winter can be stressful depending on which part of the world you live in. So this article is a reminder to reduce the stress and increase our happiness levels. Daniel Amen is one of the premier experts on mental health. One of the books he wrote is Memory Rescue. In one of the chapters he gives some simple suggestions on how to reduce stress and increase happiness. Here are some of them with my take on each.
Start every day with passion – When you start the day with the phrase “Today is going to be a wonderful day” it does make you feel better. It also sets the tone for the entire day. Lot of science-based research on this.
Write down 3 things you are grateful for – This is as simple as it gets. Deliberate gratitude has shown to instantly boost happiness. The only thing is we must do it to get the benefits.
Send a note to someone you appreciate – Appreciating someone else is oxygen to the soul. When you appreciate someone else you feel great about yourself.
Limit screen time – Taking a digital detox once a week or even once a month can improve our overall feeling of happiness. It also reduces anxiety and FOMO.
Exercise – Exercise is a great stress buster. The toughest part in an exercise regimen is to get started. If we do this first thing in the morning it gives us a sense of accomplishment and even if the rest of the day doesn’t go great we already have a win under our belt. It also kicks starts the metabolism making us more brisk and happy. Neurological studies show that when we exert ourselves physically, we produce a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that promotes growth of neurons, especially in the memory regions of the brain. Science has also shown that exercise increases the three neuro transmitters namely dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine which increase happiness levels, reduce cravings, improves learning capacity and eliminates stress. These are all very good reasons to stick to an exercise regimen. Bob Iger says “I ride a bike and use aerobic equipment twice a week, and work out with a trainer, lifting weights. It’s a good time to think. I believe that exercise relieves stress and contributes to an improvement in stamina, which in a job like this you absolutely need.”
Enjoy some dark chocolate – Willpower depletes once it is stretched too much. Having a bit of dark chocolate makes you feel great.
Listen to music – Take some time daily to listen to some music which makes you feel totally in spirit.
Engage in activities that give you joy – Find some time in the day to take part in an activity that gives your personal joy. For me it is exercising, reading and writing.
Reading – Reading has been proven to improve your memory and it is also a great stress buster. Find sometime every day to engage in some form of reading. It has been found that at the end of the day if you spend 10 min reading your stress levels reduce.
Take a walk-in nature – Soaking in the sun is good for your soul and you feel great about yourself. Any walk-in nature has found to enhance your mood.
Stop complaining – The basic point is to take full responsibility for your life and never engage in complaining. You can replace complaining with any activity that is progress towards your goals.
Spend time with positive people – This is all about emotional contagion and associations. The moods are contagious so make it a point to spend time with positive people.
Be patient – Rome was not built in a day and we cannot expect immediate results with anything we undertake. We should have the patience to be in it for the long haul.
Learn to forgive – There is no point in carrying grudges for a long time. We should all learn to forgive and forget. That is the only way to keep our mind cool and pleasant. Writing in a journal on everything that is bothering you is also a great life enhancing activity.
Journal – Journaling is one of the best practices for personal development. Right from Stephen Covey to Jim Rohn everyone has spoken about the need to maintain a journal for personal growth and reflection. It reminds us that the journey of life is worth recording. When we look back at our lives a lot of the days have just gone by without us remembering a lot of the things that would have made it memorable. So, taking the time to jot down your closely held thoughts relieves stress as well. In the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron she suggests readers to write morning pages. It is just three pages of your thoughts to start of your day. It also helps you be more creative. Here is an article you might find useful. 7 Ways a Journal is Beneficial
All these are simple ideas but if we do apply some of these ideas we will be happier over the long run. Thanks for reading this post. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.