Counsellor Sarah Barr shares simple strategies we can use to instantly boost our happiness levels.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
In today’s article I will look at what strategies we can use to boost our happiness.
Research from neuroscience researcher Alex Korb highlights five different strategies we can start to use today. These techniques have been scientifically researched and shown to have a positive impact on our happiness levels.
The brain research on what makes you happy include:
- Practice being grateful EVERYDAY
- Name those negative feelings
- Make that decision and remind yourself that you are GOOD ENOUGH
- Show kindness and offer a helping hand
- Hug, hug and hug your nearest and dearest.
Sometimes you may feel guilty or ashamed without knowing why. Other times you may find yourself constantly worrying. Feeling these emotions are not enjoyable nor productive and most of the time not even real. I say this as the majority of the time (if not all of the time) you may have very little, if any evidence to back the reasons that have led to your negative emotional response (guilt, worry or shame).
One way in helping to reduce these emotional responses is to ask yourself “What am I grateful for?”
Gratitude boosts dopamine (a neurotransmitter in your brain which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior). Feeling grateful activates the brain stem area that creates dopamine. Another powerful effect of practising gratitude is that it produces serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is thought to regulate anxiety and increase happiness.
“Being happy does not mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections”
2. Name your negative feelings
When you are feeling awful. Name that feeling. Is it Sad? Anxious? Angry?
By simply naming how you’re feeling can reduce the impact of that negative feeling. Suppressing emotions can backfire and further lead to feeling low, worried or frustrated. By suppressing your feelings, you may look okay to the outside world, yet inside you can feel like you’re struggling to hold yourself together.
Practising mindfulness or meditation teaches you how to monitor how you are feeling moment by moment. By doing this you become more aware of what you experiencing. So when experiencing an emotional response like anger, instead of ignoring it or highlighting it too much that it creates further feelings of anger, just name it. By labelling your feeling you are regulating how you respond. Which enables you to feel calmer.
3. Make a decision
Have you ever felt at ease once you have made a decision?
Making decisions is believed to help reduce worrying and anxiety, as well as helping you find a solution.
Decision making includes creating an intention and setting goals. It can change your perception of how you see things as well as calming you down.
However sometimes making decisions can be hard. When we strive to do our best or to be perfect we are putting extra pressure on ourselves. Leading to feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
We should strive to be good enough. By recognising that good enough is good enough will help us to feel more in control.
“I am Good Enough”
4. Power of touch
When we feel love and acceptance from others we feel happy. When we don’t it can be very painful. When we feel rejected it can be processed by our brain in the same way as physical pain is processed and recognised.
Through touch such as hugging or a pat on the back increases oxytocin in your brain. When we hold hands or hug someone we love it can reduce physical pain. We often look to hold hands with someone we love and trust when are scared and hug someone when we are upset.
A hug, especially a long hug releases the hormone oxytocin (widely referred to as the love hormone) and research has suggested that receiving five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness.
Another option is to go for a massage, as it is believed it will boost serotonin up to 30% and decrease your stress hormones.
5. Help others
By showing kindness and helping others not only makes them happy but it can make you happy. When we help others our brain produces extra oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine which all create good feelings.
As long as you are not over committing or overwhelming yourself helping others will have a positive impact on your happiness.
“Be kind and help others”
If you would like to talk more or avail of a free Coffee & Chat with myself, just call 0864477867 or visit my Facebook page