Monday Mojo for Caregivers – Instant Gratification: How to Feel Happy Now
Happiness is one of those things you either have or don’t have based on some unknown combination of life circumstances and natural disposition. You have a good day at work; someone does something that cracks you up and, voila. Bliss! Rough day at work, someone was a jerk and suddenly you’re miserable.
But positive psychologists have long believed that happiness is actually a quality that can be cultivated — a habit, or series of habits that can be practiced.
Here are a few recommendations for small changes you can make to quickly (and easily) change your mood:
There’s a reason why people always say, “fake it ’til you make it”. When we smile, the muscles in our face send signals to our brain that help create — biologically — a better mood than when we frown. Or better yet, smile at someone. This helps establish immediate connection — another key to feeling upbeat.
2. Schedule something fun
Everyone needs something to look forward to. Dreaming about a fantasy trip, or a job you’d love to have 5 or 10 years down the road, can provide a much needed boost. There’s value in putting something tangible on your calendar within the coming weeks or months. The anticipation of having a nice experience coming up — like dinner at a new restaurant or a day trip to the country — breeds joy.
3. Express gratitude
Many studies have shown that gratitude is intimately connected with happiness, and there are lots of ways to find time for a few, focused moments of reflection daily. Give it some thought in the car on your way to work. To take it to the next level, write gratitude letters to a specific person or try a gratitude journal.
4. Be kind to someone
Do something small and simple, like letting someone go ahead of you in line at the grocery store or call your 85-year-old great aunt who loves to hear from you. Acts of kindness increase well-being because they’re concrete.
5. Take a walk outside
When you exercise, chemicals are released in the brain that cause happiness. 15 to 20 minutes of walking and the chemicals start kicking in, and the more you do it, the stronger that reaction in the brain becomes. For a double-whammy, take your walk in nature.
6. Eat something healthy
Hangry people (a combination of hungry and angry) are not happy people, and sometimes the simplest mood-boosting-fix is a quick snack on something relatively healthy. Dark chocolate, in moderation, is a good thing. Eat a balanced snack with proteins, carbs and fats, which balances blood sugar and improves mood. Maybe grab an apple with some cheddar cheese or peanut butter, spread an avocado on toast or dip into a greek yogurt with whatever fruit topping suits your fancy.
“Flow” refers to activities that you get involved in, where you forget time and place. That can happen with writing, with music, with cooking. There have even been books written about how knitting causes happiness because it causes flow.
8. Call a friend
A main contributor to happiness is social contact. For the biggest emotional payoff, think beyond Facebook or Twitter acquaintances and get in touch with someone you’re genuinely close to. Here’s an idea: combine two happiness hacks and call a friend while you take a walk outside? Or go meet a friend for an hour or two at the end of the day, even if you’re tired or feel like you have too much else to do. It’s truly good for your health.
To contact us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Please call us at (561) 588-4545. Thanks for watching today’s Monday Mojo and we’ll see you again next week!