Recently, I came across this image on Reddit, about how to hack your brain’s “happiness chemicals.” It’s such great advice for these trying times! I love this, and it made me realize that I am at my happiest when I do at least one thing in each box every day.
It’s possible to find happiness in what seems like ordinary, insignificant everyday things. The activities mentioned in this image will give your brain a boost in feel-good chemicals and keep them going. I’ve found that typically, all it takes is a little attitude adjustment to keep my brain feeling good.
What works for me may not do anything for you, but there are many little things you can try today. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or in the middle of a crisis, these are simple activities that you can do right now to begin a more positive path:
Being outside on a bright, sunny day boosts serotonin production in your brain (aka “The Mood Stabilizer”). So try to get outside during your lunch break, take a break and step outside to soak in the sun, or go for a walk on a sunny day.
Hug your family
Embracing in a long hug releases oxytocin, known as the bonding hormone. Hugging can calm down your amygdala, the fear alarm. Plus, it just makes you feel warm and fuzzy!
It’s such a simple thing to do, and I’ve found it really does improve my mood. You can feel happier if you smile! Although most people believe we smile when we feel happy, it works the other way too.
Your face doesn’t just display emotion; it creates it too. Your face plays a part in your emotional process.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing makes us happier for the same reasons smiling does. Sure, you may feel foolish, but letting out a giggle or thinking of something funny to make you laugh can make you feel happier. Before you know it, your produced laughter will lead to the real thing!
Spend time with your pets
Taking your dog for a walk or petting your cat can increase the oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine in your brain. As studies have shown, having a pet can decrease depression and encourage healthy habits.
Make time for exercise
Exercise has so many health benefits. And, it can have a positive influence on your emotional well-being. I know that I feel instantly better after a cardio workout!
You might already know about the connection between exercise and endorphins if you’ve heard of a “runner’s high.” Exercising regularly can also increase your serotonin and dopamine levels, so it’s a great option to boost your brain’s happy chemicals.
As a busy professional, I realize that making time for exercise can feel impossible some days. Take a look at your calendar: is there a time when you don’t regularly have other conflicts? For example, if you have a team meeting every Tuesday and Thursday morning and client dinners on Fridays, commit an hour on Monday and Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon to get active.
Put your workouts in your calendar as recurring events. That way, you’ll treat appointments to work out like you do work meetings. If it helps, you can even give yourself an incentive. A friend of mine puts $5 toward the shoes she’s been eyeing every time she goes to the gym!
Staying positive regularly begins in your brain with simple changes in behaviors and thoughts. Small steps such as these can nudge (or keep) your brain into a more optimistic cycle so you can begin improving your life immediately.
Now it’s your turn–what are your tried-and-true happiness hacks? Share with me in the comments!