While we all have our own hobbies and interests, certain ways of boosting happiness should work for almost everyone. For example, some studies prove that our mood responds to our environment in a wide range of subtle ways, while other research suggests that how we relate to others is the key to well-being.
Here are 12 ways to be happier and more at peace this month.
Whenever you smile, your body releases endorphins in response, as well as serotonin (a neurotransmitter that you may be lacking when you’re feeling low). These chemicals also reduce physical pain, which is a definite bonus. In addition, smiling at people helps to spread good vibes, and attracts more positivity into your life.
It’s easy to spend time critiquing the parts of yourself that you feel no improvement or that make you insecure. However, you’ll be a lot happier if you deliberately perform an inventory of the things you like about yourself.
Try keeping a journal for the month, and writing down one thing worth celebrating about yourself each day.
Whenever you’re walking or traveling, listen to songs that generate feels of joy and inspiration. This is an excellent way to encourage yourself to get more exercise, too, as walking to the store (instead of driving) becomes downright fun when you’ve got your own personal soundtrack.
And when you’re at home, you can dance to these songs as you go about your day!
Whether it’s your own pet, someone else’s, or an animal at a petting zoo, being close to animals lowers feelings of anxiety and prompts that release of feel-good chemicals like oxytocin. It’s also worth considering volunteer work at an animal shelter, where you can bond with furry friends and make a positive difference to the world as well.
If you spend more time outdoors during the day, you’ll increase your body’s levels of vitamin D (which is made when your skin comes into contact with the sun’s rays). We all need vitamin D in order to support a balanced, happy mood, so find excuses to get some more!
Reading fiction not only broadens the imagination; there are also neurological studies suggesting that it enhances your empathy for others, making it easier to form bonds and understand alternative perspectives.
Plus, curling up with a good book can feel like a wonderful indulgence.
Challenge yourself and broaden your horizons by doing something that you’ve always wanted to try. Whether it’s picking up a new class, getting a tattoo, learning a new language at home or visiting a place that has always attracted you, you’re sure to have a better month if you are engaged and excited.
Many of us are guilty of skipping breakfast before work, or of working through lunch. Focus on the importance of your physical needs this coming month, and ensure you eat regularly. Committing to more nutritious snacks is a great idea too. When you feed yourself in a way that respects your body, you subconsciously communicate to yourself that you are deserving of love and care.
When you spend less time browsing social networks, this change is reliably correlated with an increase in well-being and a decrease in envy directed towards others. Instead, spend some extra hours per week socializing with people in person, and consider setting a time limit on your internet use. For example, consider that recent French law bans employees from checking their work email accounts in the evening.
On a related note, why not take a critical look at your social circle this coming month? Who makes you feel good, and who makes you feel used or cut down? Try severing contact with negative people for a full four weeks, and not the difference it makes to your self-esteem and mental health.
Many scientists believe that being close to the water improves health and mood, partly because of the sense of awe that we feel when we look at the sea or enjoy gazing at a calm lake. Find a peaceful body of water, and relax there; if it’s a nice day, you can even plan a picnic.
Finally, take some time this month to have a really good think about what you want for your future. Outline some goals, big and small, and begin to draw up some plans that help you see that these dreams are achievable. This type of activity gives you focus and drive, and reminds you that you have so many new exciting things to look forward to.
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