How to Have a Happy Brain!
As someone who has dealt with depression for years, I am always interested in finding ways to keep it at bay. Daily exercise and good nutrition have made a huge difference in how I feel everyday. I came across these other ways to also help kick in the chemicals in your brain that make you feel good.
Keep in mind not every thing works for everybody. But here are some ideas from Lifehack.org that you can try to make your brain help you feel happy:
- Give or Get a Hug:
A long hug releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which calms down your amygdala, the fear alarm, and just makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
- Get Out in the Sun:
Bright sunlight helps boost the production of serotonin in your brain. Make an effort to get outside on your lunch hour, go for a walk on a sunny day, or take a break and step outside to soak in the sun. Sunlight also improves the release of melatonin, which helps you sleep better at night.
- Put Your Feelings on Paper:
Studies have shown that linguistic processing of emotions produces less amygdala activity, helping you to feel less distressed. A calmer amygdala means a happier, less anxious you.
- Remember Some Happy Memories:
Just thinking about happy times boosts serotonin levels in your brain,according to research. Serotonin is necessary for the highest functioning of your prefrontal cortex, the executive, which controls self-reflection and your emotions, helping it to override old knee-jerk patterns. Try visualizing a joyful time in detail or even better, write it down.
- Splash Cold Water on Your Face:
Seriously. Find a sink, fill your hands with cold water, and rinse your face. Doing this will slow down your heart rate by indirectly stimulating your vagus nerve, which regulates a variety of vital bodily functions including your heartbeat and the muscles used to breathe. The vagus nerve also controls the chemical levels in your digestive system, which greatly affect mood and health.
It’s a simple thing to do and really does improve your mood. Most people think we smile because we feel happy, but it works the other way too. You can feel happier if you smile. Your face doesn’t just display emotion – it also creates it. Your face isn’t simply a billboard for your internal feelings, it’s an equal partner in the emotional process.
Laughing works for the same reasons smiling does. You may feel silly, but opening your mouth and letting out a chuckle or thinking of something funny to make you giggle can make you feel happier. There’s not much difference in your brain between fake and genuine laughter and before you know it, provoked laughing can often lead to the real thing.
- Be Around Other People:
If you start to feel your mood slipping go somewhere around other people, like a coffee shop, book store, or break room. You don’t even have to interact with them, just being in the same physical space does the trick. Chatting or chilling with a friend is even more beneficial. If you don’t feel like talking, try doing an activity with a friend where you won’t feel forced to talk. Social interaction causes your brain to secrete oxytocin that supports the serotonin system, giving you get the benefits of both feel good chemicals.
- Spend Time With a Pet:
Just stroking your pet or even someone else’s can increase the oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine in your brain. Several studies have shown that having a pet can reduce depression, encourage healthier habits, and increase feelings of connectedness. One Japanese study determined that playing with a dog with which you have a bond increases oxytocin levels.
- Diaphragm Breathing:
Taking long, deep breaths into your tummy slows your heart rate and activates the calm, parasympathetic nervous system. Place your hand on your diaphragm, the center of your stomach a couple of inches below your lungs, and take slow, full breaths. Count to six and make your hand move in and out with each inhale and exhale. After you get the hang of it, you can practice diaphramatic breathing anywhere without using your hand.
- Boost Your Gut Bacteria:
While no one is happy all the time, staying consistently positive begins in your brain with simple changes in thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Small steps can help nudge or keep your brain in a more upbeat cycle and literally start bettering your life immediately.
I try and focus on the positives as much as possible. There will always be times n my life when I feel sad or depressed. It would be unnatural to be happy all of the time. The difference is, when I do feel down I allow myself to feel that way and then move on. I will not allow myself to live n those feelings or let them take over. I love these ideas as a way to help me move forward from the dark places and get back to having a happy brain!