Happiness is an extraordinarily complex thing. Sometimes it can only come out in the company of others; sometimes it requires long-term peace of mind; sometimes it simply boils down to the right balance of chemicals in the brain.
But what about the here and now? What can you do in the short-term to improve the way you feel?
According to the latest studies, there are some incredibly simple ways to give your body an immediate mood lift – all of which you can start doing immediately, with relatively little effort. What other tips would you add to this list?
Set aside the next seven minutes to exercise
For the time being, forget all long-term hopes for your body. This isn’t about fitness or weight loss, but simply about giving your brain the energy lift it needs.
Exercise will immediately release the endorphins and proteins proven to make us happier, which makes it one of the most immediate and reliable ways to lift your spirits.
One surprising study found that even if you don’t notice any physical changes, you’re more likely to feel better about your body.
The best news is that it doesn’t take much: seven short minutes a day can give you an enormously helpful mood lift. There’s even a helpful iPhone app to remind you and guide you through the process – we strongly recommend giving it a try now!
Think about your next holiday – even if you’re not sure you’re taking one
Sometimes it’s not the holiday itself that brings us happiness, but the process of planning and looking forward to it. Bizarrely, research has shown that those currently planning a holiday can sometimes be even happier than those currently taking one.
Even if it’s simply a hypothetical idea, even if it’s years down the road, even if it doesn’t feel realistic, start looking into options and taking notes. You may be surprised where it takes you – if not to Sweden, than at least to a slightly happier place.
Download a mediation app
Not all of us are keen on the idea of meditation, let alone committing to a class. Thankfully, there’s a very easy and private way you can give it a try: simply download an app like Calm.
Find a quiet corner and start it up; the program will talk you through the rest. Not only will it help ease any short-term concerns; there’s also a strong scientific chance it will restructure your brain for long-term happiness.
Sunlight is a natural antidepressant – it encourages your body to release serotonin, a natural mood lifter.
How much sunlight is enough? That will depend largely on where you live and what time of year it is, as this obviously needs to be balanced against sunburn and skin cancer risks. However, the Cancer Council advises that smart sun protection shouldn’t stop your body from benefiting from the exposure.
If it’s overcast outside, there are other ways to get your fix: alternative ways to release serotonin include massages, general physical activity, and even simply remembering happy events.
Start thinking about your next night’s sleep
Many in the Starts at 60 community struggle with sleep. This is particularly unpleasant when we know how much it can affect our mood and overall health. Is there anything you can do – at this exact moment – to help improve tonight’s chances of rest?
While the solution will vary from person to person, one of the most important factors is finding a more consistent routine; to re-train your body to feel tired and wake up on schedule. Set a daily alarm or personal reminder to go off 45 minutes before your desired bedtime. Aim to be under the covers as soon as the clock ticks over.
What simple, immediate tricks do you use to boost your mood? Share your tips in the comments below!