Tip #1 Smile

Why it works:  Which comes first, the smile or the happiness? When people are happy they smile, but Charles Darwin first proposed the idea that it can also go the other way around in 1872 when he wrote, “The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it.”  Studies over the past hundred forty years have repeatedly confirmed his hypothesis.  Smiling stimulates a powerful chemical reaction in the brain which increases levels of dopamine and serotonin which can make you feel happier.  Smiling can literally trick your brain into happiness.  Even forcing a fake smile can legitimately reduce stress and lower your heart rate.

Try it:  Hold a smile for at least 60 seconds.  Do this in the morning when you wake up and any time throughout the day for a little “pick me up.”

 

Tip #2 Be Grateful

Why it works:  Neuroscience reveals that gratitude literally rewires your brain to be happier.  Your brain cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli; gratitude directs the attention to the positive.  Furthermore, feelings of gratitude directly activate brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine, generally considered the “reward” neurotransmitter.

Try it:  Write a list of 10 things you’re grateful for or keep a daily gratitude journal.  Notice the beauty of a sunrise or sunset.  Thank your cashier or waiter by name.  Become aware of things that people do for you and thank them for it.

 

 

Tip #3 Pause and Be Present

Why it works:  A study at Yale University found that mindfulness mediation helps reduce ruminating and worrying about the past and future; and a study at Harvard showed that meditation reduces fear, anxiety and stress.

Try it:  Press your fingertips together with enough force to create a gentle resistive pressure.  Close your eyes and take five slow, deep breaths.

 

Tip #4 Move your body

Why it works:  Physical exercise can reduce or prevent depression and reduce stress.  According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise increases the brain’s production of feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins.  It also improves your mood, increases self-confidence, improves focus, improves sleep quality, and promotes relaxation.

Try it:  Go for a walk, take the stairs, take a yoga class, play racquetball or basketball, ride a bike or go to the gym.

 

Tip #5 Service

Why it works:  Studies confirm that doing good makes you feel good.  Even a small act of kindness can increase the presence of the four primary chemicals in our brains that affect happiness:  dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.   People who participate in meaningful activities are happier and feel more purpose in their lives.

Try it:  Perform a small act of kindness for a co-worker, family member or friend.  Donate to charity.  Let someone in line go in front of you.  Hold the door open for someone else to go through.  Leave money on a vending machine for someone.  Serve at a homeless shelter.  Pick up litter on the beach.  Give a stranger a compliment.  Make dinner for a family in need

Insert coins into someone’s parking meter.  Leave letters of encouragement on people’s cars.  Do a favor without asking for anything in return.  Send a birthday card.

How does worry and stress affect your health?

Worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. Including:

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Emotional First Aid Kit

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