Want to turn your frown upside down? Try these…
When you’re tired, everything is so much more annoying, frustrating and stressful. When you’re well-rested, it’s easier to laugh off that two-hour traffic jam or the infuriating way your spouse is standing in front of the drawer you want to open. JUST MOVE! If you find switching off and nodding off tricky, try eating specific foods that will increase your production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Try almonds, lettuce, Marmite, oats, potatoes and turkey (there’s a reason everyone fancies a snooze after Christmas lunch). Bananas can also help you reach the land of nod, and have been called ‘nature’s sleeping pill’ due to the magnesium and potassium they contain. Drinking hot milk or chamomile tea before bed may also help you fall into a restful slumber. Sweet dreams.
Getting your heart rate up will release feel-good endorphins, which will boost your mood and set you on a positive path. These endorphins will also make you feel more energised, leaving you less sluggish and more productive… and, in turn, happier. Whatever exercise you decide to do – be it running, yoga, kickboxing, swimming, cycling, Zumba or belly dancing – make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy. Don’t spend hours sweating it out on a ‘dreadmill’ if you’re more of a Pilates-type person. Choose something you’ll look forward to doing.
3. GO OUTSIDE
Fresh air. Natural light. The tweeting of the birds. The smell of the flowers. The sun on your skin. What’s not to smile about? All too often we are cooped up inside, eating lunch at our desks, binge-watching Netflix and ordering this gadget or that thingamajig from Amazon Prime. This can take its toll on our happiness and scientists have found evidence that being outside with nature has a huge impact on our brains, our behaviour and our well-being. It reduces stress and anxiety, and increases our creativity, attention span and ability to connect with others. We are physically and mentally healthier when we are surrounded by nature. So, who’s up for a stroll in the woods?
Research shows that there’s a real link between smiling and your well-being. Turning your lips up at the corners helps with everything from blood pressure to stress, boosting the immune system, and releasing endorphins, natural painkillers and serotonin to make us feel happy. A study conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation found that a smile can improve your confidence, help you make friends and make you succeed in your career. What’s even better than smiling? Laughing! A good old chuckle will really get the endorphins flowing through your body, which is guaranteed to instantly cheer you up. Friends rerun, anyone?
Breathing is, of course, second nature. Breathing deeply, however, is something that we have to consciously do. Focusing on deep breathing will help to keep you calm and reduce stress, while also encouraging your body to burn fat (bonus). Try to get into the habit of doing at least 10 minutes of deep diaphragmatic breaths a day: place one hand on your belly and one on your chest, then feel both lift and deflate as you inhale and exhale. Pilates, yoga and meditation all focus on breathing, so why not zen out with these, too? Aaaaand… breathe…
6. BE KIND
If you want to be happier, a good place to start is by making someone else happy. Performing acts of kindness don’t just give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, they are scientifically proven to make you physically healthier. Being kind can lower blood pressure, reduce depression and anxiety, and combat stress – it’s been estimated that perpetually kind people have 23% less of the stress hormone cortisol. Kindness increases optimism and self-esteem, boosts energy, and stimulates the production of serotonin, the ‘feel-good hormone’. Want to experience a ‘helper’s high’? Hold the door open, give up your seat or volunteer at a local charity. Happiness guaranteed.