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The London Psychiatry Centre / Blog  / How To Make Yourself Happier

How To Make Yourself Happier

How to make yourself happier in under a minute. It may sound too good to be true, but research has shown that there are a number of strategies you can implement that can increase your happiness. Busy lifestyles, stressful jobs, the pressures of modern day life – there’s a lot that demands focus in our lives. Why not take a moment to focus on yourself and boost your mood?

So, what is happiness? According to the Oxford Dictionary:

Happiness

Noun

The state of being happy.

Contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, joyousness, delight, enjoyment. Whatever word you use to describe it, happiness is generally considered to be a combination of positive emotion and how satisfied you are with your life.

It’s perfectly normal for levels of happiness to fluctuate – that’s a natural part of the ups and downs of life. If you’re suffering with depression or anxiety, you’ve probably noticed that you feel low for much of the time. Whether you have a mental illness of not, you can be confident that with the below scientifically proven strategies and techniques for boosting your mood, you can feel happier in less time than it takes to boil the kettle.

In a world where busy lifestyles are the norm, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on one’s own happiness. By practicing these evidence-based tips consistently they can become habits which can have a real lasting impact on your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Ready to feel happier and more positive? What are you waiting for?

1. Sit up straight

Self esteem – confidence in one’s worth – is heavily intertwined with happiness. When we have low self esteem we tend to feel negatively about ourselves and life, but people with high self esteem tend to feel happier and have a more positive outlook on life.

Much research has been conducted over the years and confirms the relationship between posture and self esteem. Nair et al, completed a study in 2014 which analysed whether upright postures affect stress responses and found that adopting an upright posture in the face of stress can help to reduce negative mood, increase positive mood and also maintain self-esteem.

How are you sitting at the moment? What’s your posture like? Are you hunched over? Next time you’re feeling low, take note of how you’re sitting and try to sit tall!

2. Give us a smile

Grin and bear it. Fake it until you make it. Remember these old sayings? Well, it seems that they may actually have some truth behind them after all.

The act of smiling activates happiness-inducing chemicals – dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – in the body, which help to elevate mood. In fact, British researchers (Hewlett Packard and Dr David Lewis) found that just one genuine smile triggers the brain’s reward mechanism and can result in the same level of pleasure and brain stimulation as eating up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.

Smiling also has benefits beyond this that are advantageous for health so it’s a win win situation! Research by Kraft and Pressman has shown that smiling during stressful times can influence our physical state by lowering heart rate and the intensity of the stress response. Less anxiety. Less stress. Happy days!

3. Feel gratitude

How often do you stop and consider all the things that you are grateful for? Multiple studies support a strong positive association between gratitude and greater happiness. For example, one study by Emmons and McCullough examined three groups of people: One group was asked to keep a note of negative thoughts, moods and life events each day, a second group was asked to keep note of neutral thoughts, moods and events, whilst the third was asked to write down only positive occurrences. The group that noted positive thoughts, moods and life events reported better wellbeing in comparison to the other two groups – they felt more optimistic and contented with their lives.

Take a moment to consider the things today that you feel grateful for. Often it’s the little things that bring pleasure. Did you relish your breakfast this morning? Did you enjoy your time reading your book on the train to work? Did you eat lunch in the park instead of in the office? Gratitude can help you appreciate the experiences you’ve had, and can also help you to feel more positive. Why not write down three good things that happened to you today, no matter how small.

4. Listen to music

Sound is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to our emotions. It can manipulate mood by affecting the body’s autonomic nervous system which controls the heartbeat, feelings and emotions, as well as the limbic system.

Just as listening to slow, relaxing music can help you to relax before bed, listening to upbeat music can have a positive impact on mood and lift the spirits. Listening to music releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain which is released as a response to rewarding and pleasurable activity. One study found that levels of dopamine in subjects rose by 9% rise when listening to music that they enjoyed. Next time you’re feeling a little low, pop those headphones in and press play to listen to songs that make you feel joyful.

5. Get up and walk

The benefits of exercise for boosting mood are profound and well documented. Science shows that exercise can make you feel happier by increasing the feel-good chemicals – serotonin and dopamine – in the brain. These help to boost mood, relieve depression and anxiety, and are also a useful tool in stress reduction. Exercise also has the additional benefit of helping you sleep better and giving you more energy.

The good news is that you don’t have to head to the gym; just five minutes of exercise can make a difference. Simply getting up from your desk and having a walk around the building can have a positive impact on your happiness.

Got a little longer that five minutes? The University of Vermont found that 20 minutes of exercise can have mood-boosting benefits for up to 12 hours!

6. Write down what you’re going to do today

A habit that has been linked to increased happiness is that of goal setting. Setting goals, or positive intentions, for the day can be a really fantastic tool for putting you in control and increasing happiness.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that progressing with our goals – no matter how small – can provide a sense of purpose, feeling of achievement, and can help us to feel more satisfied with life. Goal-setting doesn’t need to be time consuming, you can simply add your intentions into your diary or scribble them on a post-it note.

If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue, don’t delay in getting help. With the right support you can be back to your normal self. Here at The London Psychiatry Centre we provide help without the wait. Our psychiatrists, psychotherapists and psychologists are all highly experienced and you can be confident you will receive the very best care. If you have any questions or would like to book a consultation, simply call our admin team on 020 7580 4224 or email info@psychiatrycentre.co.uk.