Changes to adopt to improve happiness

Posted on: 13 April 2017 by 50connect editorial

Most of us could do with more happiness in our lives. Finding simple ways to feel happier can make a huge difference to our happiness levels.

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Food

Food is a great source of happiness, whether it’s roast chicken with crispy potatoes, and all the trimmings, or a childhood favourite, like beans on toast, or bangers and mash. If it hits the spot for you, it will make you feel happier.

‘It isn’t just about the food itself, though,’ says Dr Amanda Squire, dietitian for the British Dietetic Association. ‘Make each meal a celebration. Eating food is a social event, so put food back in the centre of things, where it needs to be. Don’t be afraid to enjoy comfort foods that make you feel cared for. Cheese and potato pie, rice pudding, and other old favourites are fine as long as you don’t have huge portions, and don’t have them all the time.’

Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition says: ‘Eating foods rich in magnesium supports the nervous system and a study in Psychology Today labeled magnesium the original ‘chill pill’, so eat whole grains, nuts, seeds and dark leafy vegetables which will provide magnesium and B vitamins plus top up on oily fish for omegas and vitamin D.  

Supplements

When you’re not feeling 100 percent yourself, you may need a hand getting that spark back into your life. Magnesium supplements may be a good choice. As well as helping your body convert food into energy, it also helps to reduce tiredness. Try Healthspan’s Opti-Magnesium or Holland & Barrett’s Magnesium Tablets, they contain bioavailable magnesium sources that help your body absorb the important mineral, they also contain vitamin D3, which helps support immune health, and healthy bones and teeth.

Awe and wonder

Ever wondered why natural history programmes are so popular? They make us feel happy. The wildlife series ‘Planet Earth II’ raised the mood of those watching, around the world. Why wouldn’t it? Who could watch a sloth swimming and not feel happy?  Research carried out with Professor Dacher Keltner, of the University of California, Berkely for The Real Happiness Project (launched by BBC Worldwide) found that nature programmes are like a pot of emotional gold. And it’s not just about happiness – the awe and wonder that we feel when watching nature programmes are vital too.

‘Awe and wonder are foundations for the good life,’ explains Professor Keltner. ‘We have found that brief bursts of awe make us happier, more modest and humble and more generous to others.’ The research also found that watching nature programmes can reduce our anxiety, fear, stress and tiredness.

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Kindness

Kindness can make us feel happier, and being kind to ourselves is something we don’t do often enough. Dr Meg Arroll, psychologist and author has some good advice on how to help yourself to happiness.

‘Compliment yourself every day. Getting into the habit of feeling good about ourselves comes with regular practice. So if you’ve done a good deed for someone else, are looking really well, or if you’ve finished a chore you hate doing, give yourself some praise, and let yourself feel good about what you’ve done.’

“Don’t try to be a mind-reader. Trying to second-guess what other people are thinking can kill happiness as we rarely get it right,” says Dr Arroll. “We often tend to assume the worst and believe that our partners, family and friends are having negative thoughts about us, when they may just be wondering what to have for dinner.”

Just thinking positive thoughts about yourself and those around you will lift your mood – and that happiness may be contagious.

Being grateful makes you feel good. “Taking three minutes a day to acknowledge what’s good about your life is a fast and sure way to change your state and feel happier,” says life coach Lydia Kimmerling. “Gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve your happiness and your relationships, sleep, mental health, self-esteem and physical health too.”

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