Ah, the birds are a-singing, the buds are a-blooming, and the southern hemisphere is dusting off our brushes and brooms as we prepare to spring clean our homes and our lives. What better way to complement this dusting off of cobwebs and grime than by enjoying some mental and emotional spring cleaning as well?
The path to happiness can be remarkably straight forward if we know what behaviours to cultivate and which ones to work through. It's not an unachievable dream reserved for a select enlightened few, rather it's a set of habits that can be adopted into our routines and lifestyles. The best part of it is that these habits are free, natural and healthy!
Without further ado, here are some simple happiness hacks to leave you feeling balanced and joyful!
Breaking a sweat and getting the blood pumping is the cheapest medicine out there. Even just 20 minutes of exercise releases endorphins, our 'feel-good' neurotransmitters, and endocannabinoids, chemicals associated with pleasure. It also lowers levels of cortisol and adrenaline, our stress hormones. So working on your physique can really boost your morale as well!
We all know that sleep deprivation can actively cause emotional difficulties, but did you know that a healthy sleep routine can actively benefit your morale? People who have more REM sleep, or take deep afternoon naps, find themselves desensitised to negative emotions but increasingly responsive to positive ones, contributing to a boost in overall happiness.
Screens are everywhere these days. Despite being such a massive part of our daily life, we could all benefit from less tech-time. People who spend more time on their devices seem to have less contact with their immediate social networks and suffer from increased anxiety and lower self-esteem. Limiting screen-time could be an active step to happier lives.
So rather than scroll mindlessly on our devices, call a friend or family member! Human contacts, such as hugs, holding hands, and personal conversations, release serotonin, which reduces depression, and oxytocin, the love hormone. These hormones lower cortisol levels, decreasing our blood pressure and heart rate and enabling us to feel more relaxed.
Who doesn't feel better after an outing in the great outdoors? Being surrounded by nature is mood-boosting, but also strengthens our immune system, and breathing in the purer air improves our circulation and energy level. What's more, the sun's rays enable our bodies to produce vitamin D, which fights depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Consciously reminding ourselves of everything we are grateful for grounds us in the positive present. Rather than focussing on all the things we want and don't have, lean into the simple, beautiful things: family, friends, fresh air, our home, our health.
The pace of life these days is merciless. Being always on the go, looking to tomorrow, next week or next year, we find ourselves disconnecting from the present. We worry about changing the past or controlling the future, rather than making the most of what we have now. Being mindful means slowing down and focussing on one moment at a time, making every little thing meaningful. See the beauty in the moment, notice the world around you, listen to your body.