It can be hard to find happiness when all the news feels bad: An ongoing pandemic, climate change, and natural disasters have been some of the many issues that have dominated headlines recently. On an individual level, we can experience hardships and sadness even when things seem right with the rest of the world.
About 17 million, or 7%, of U.S. adults ages 18 and over have major depressive disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Even people who are not clinically depressed will experience sadness.
Therapy is a great resource and can help you manage mental health issues, but self-care is also essential outside of the therapy room. Simple, everyday additions to your routine can boost your mood. Try these three practices to increase happiness.
Why it helps
Whether you excelled in gym class or not, regular physical activity is an essential piece of a healthy lifestyle. You likely know exercise is good for your physical health. It can help you maintain or get to a healthy weight and reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Improving your physical health will give you fewer issues to worry about mentally, upping your mood.
Exercise has also proven to have a direct effect on your mental health. Research shows it improves mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels. It’s also a stress-buster.
How often should you exercise for happiness?
The CDC recommends getting 75 to 150 minutes of exercise per week or about 11 to 21 minutes per day, depending on your intensity level. If you want to exercise daily, though, experts suggest aiming for 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity per week (21 to 43 minutes per day).
When and how to exercise for mood
There is no one-size-fits-all fitness regimen or definitive research on the “best” workouts or optimal time of day to exercise for happiness. Pick an activity that you enjoy and a time that is convenient for you. Not loving an exercise or trying to cram a workout into a busy morning will likely only upset you.
Why it works
Affirmations are short statements you can repeat regularly to help get you into a positive state of mind. Reciting affirmations can aid in emotional regulation, according to research. You can also write your affirmation. One 2018 study found emotional writing soothed stress.
Finding an affirmation
Think about what’s bringing you down. Maybe you are your own biggest critic. Reciting, “I am doing the best I can,” will serve as a reminder that you are enough. Perhaps you feel like you have a challenging road ahead. Telling yourself, “I have everything I need to overcome this issue,” may empower you to keep going with a smile on your face.
Affirmations may lose effectiveness over time, or you may develop different needs. Don’t be afraid to switch them up or alternate between a couple each day if they’re not boosting your mood.
Why it works
Zooms and virtual happy hours were all the rage until they weren’t. (Zoom fatigue is common and can put a damper on your mood.) Though eye contact can be beneficial, being on camera all day can be exhausting. That said, hearing the sound of a loved one’s voice can make you happy. Consider switching back to an old-fashioned phone conversation. One recent study found that talking on the phone for 10 minutes per day can reduce anxiety.
Getting over phone phobia
Some people have anxiety over talking on the phone. If that’s you, you can overcome it and benefit from this practice. Try asking a trusted friend who you know isn’t judging you to call you, and work your way up to longer conversations in small increments.
Happiness takes work and feeling positive vibes can be particularly hard during difficult times. It’s been a challenging 18+ months, and you may be feeling down and burned out. Making a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle can help put you in a better frame of mind, even when the headlines are consistently negative. Getting about 20 minutes of exercise per day can boost your mood. Though actions often speak louder than words, words do mean something. Research shows positive affirmations can affect your mind’s emotional control center. If you think anxiety or loneliness are contributing to your sadness, try connecting with someone over the phone for 10 minutes each day. If these practices to increase happiness fall short, speak with a healthcare provider or therapist. You deserve to feel good about yourself.
BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.
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