After researching and experimenting with happiness and wellbeing “interventions” over the years, one psychologist says the best chance of being happy really comes down to four things. According to Lowri Dowthwaite-Walsh, the four keys are being active, prioritizing family and friends, practicing gratitude and cuddling a pet.
Here’s what she’s learned about each one and how it relates to happiness.
- Move your body - Sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for the body or mind, but being active comes with major benefits. Runners enjoy a “high” after a run and report feeling less anxiety and research backs this up, confirming that regular exercise can boost mood, reduce stress and lower the risk of depression. Any small amount of movement is better than none at all, but moderate- to high-intensity workouts that really raise the heart rate bring even more mood-boosting benefits.
- Prioritize connection - Your relationships with romantic partners, friends and family can definitely affect your mood. These social connections are important to your overall well-being and life satisfaction and research shows feeling like you’re connected and part of a group gives people a stronger sense of purpose and a source of support during tough times.
- Practice gratitude - Taking time to appreciate what you have can help you focus on the positive and feel happier, according to Dowthwaite-Walsh. It can be as simple as listing the things you’re thankful for that day in a gratitude journal or on your phone. And research shows that writing thank you notes has a positive impact on mental health as well.
- Spend time with pets - This is an easy one since pets are a huge source of joy for a lot of folks. Just being around pets has been shown to boost levels of serotonin and dopamine - the ‘happy hormones” in the brain. This psychologist notes that family pets not only provide companionship, but studies have also found they lower rates of depression and anxiety as well.
- “The main ingredients for happiness and what the research boils down to are social connections and activity, of both the mind and body,” Dowthwaite-Walsh explains.
Source: Daily Mail