10 quick tips to get happier this week:

Unfortunately last week I didn’t made it to any new happiness experiences – mental time at work. Boo. And after a big Saturday night my brain feels quite frazzled today. In fact, I would say that productivity is at an all time low at my desk office today. So to help get through the week I’ve found 10 easy tips to get some warm fuzzy feelings going and ease the pain of the 5 more days till the next weekend…Enjoy!

  1. Be curious. Inquisitive people are more get happiness from every day things according to a study published in Motivation and Emotion. But YouTube won’t quite cut it. The key is to engage in activities outside your comfort zone, says Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University — especially those that require skill. “That’s when you get so absorbed that you’re completely engaged in the moment, which creates very positive energy.”  (Rock climbing here we come! Though perhaps not today with this hangover…)
  2. Think fast. Depression is characterized by slow thinking so making your brain ‘race’ could give you a mood boost. In a study published in Psychological Science, when subjects read statements quickly, they felt happier, more energetic, and more creative afterward! Even when the content was depressing, reading it quickly was still found to make you feel happier.  (Good news for reading the paper on the way home then!)
  3. Speak up. Even if you’re naturally shy, acting extroverted will have a positive impact on your mood according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  4. Talk to strangers Forget ‘Danger Stranger’ – interacting with someone you don’t know is a sure fire pick me up because we are naturally programmed to act cheerful around a new person to make a good first impression, and when we act cheerful, we begin to feel that way say Scientists. In another study, participants were told that in three minutes they would be talking with a stranger — and that anticipation alone boosted people’s moods. Pretty cool.
  5. Do a good thing “If you want to be happy, practice compassion,” preaches the Dalai Lama — sure, that’s easy to say when you’re a yogi. But a university study actually found that even small gestures as small as buying someone dinner can enhance your mood. Participants were asked to carry out five “acts of kindness” every week for six weeks. At the end, the ones who performed all five acts in one day showed significant increases in happiness. As I found out last week, giving away ends up giving you back all sorts of goodness.
  6. Ditch the downers. Get rid any people that bring you down. Some people, for example colleagues, you’re unfortunately stuck with – but you can adjust the other people in your life. I once heard someone use the phrase ‘people radiators’ to describe anyone who gives you a warm feeling. Make sure you are surrounded by people who make you happy – and get rid of any ‘fun sponges’ who want to suck the life out of you.
  7. Sweat it out. Not only is exercise good for your body but experts say there are a host of other benefits too including the unleashing of the feel-good building blocks serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Which make you feel happier and less stressed!
  8. Breathe deeply. When we’re stressed we tend to breathe more shallowly in our chests. By focusing on breathing deeply – from your belly, you’ll replenish the oxygen in your brain and feel more relaxed. Yoga has the additional benefit of increasing levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter associated with happy, calm feelings) and lowering levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Go on, unleash your inner-zen.
  9. Eat some fat (and fatty fish if poss) Studies have shown that a diet with less than 25 percent of its total calories from fat can raise anxiety, frustration, and anger, says Susan Kleiner, a sports-nutrition consultant in Mercer Island, Washington. The best mood enhancers are monounsaturated fats (like avocado, olive oil, and nuts) Most people are deficient in fish oils but it’s been found that omega-3s (found in cold water oily fish) can have a greater positive effect on mood than prescription antidepressants (wow!)  according to an independent analysis of studies that were conducted by the American Psychiatric Association. Try to eat oily fish three times a week, and take a fish-oil supplement to reap the biggest benefit.
  10. Listen to music. “Music can affect the pleasure center of the brain, the same area activated when you have an orgasm,” (!!!!!!) says neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, a professor of psychology at McGill University. And the positive effect can last even after the music is over.

Perhaps the most genius bit of info I have discovered since writing this blog.

Off to another ActionforHappiness lecture this Thursday to get some more brain boosting advice, after this weekend I reckon I could use it.

More soon.

Have a good week lovely people and let me know if you get up to anything interesting. It’s always awesome to hear your feedback.






Suffering from too much fun? Put down the Prozac and eat some of these..

Finally summer has come to London! Getting out into the sunshine makes all the difference to your state of mind we all know that, somehow the world looks so much shinier, people are friendlier and somehow its appropriate to find a beer garden regardless what day it is. How were you enjoying the sunshine this weekend? I had a brilliant time catching up with friends, heading out to a free music festival and generally drinking a few too many cheeky vimtos.. which left me feeling a bit meloncholy on Sunday night. (Alcohol is a known depressant ggr) So I decided to see if there were any food which could help counter the affects of too much fun… Image

1. Bananas – they’re high in vitamin B6, essential for the creation of serotonin and dopamine. Stress depletes vitamin B6, and low levels of this can potentially lead to depression

Now, there are all sorts of things which people say you can do with banana skins – most relate to (unsuccessful) teenage kicks in my experience (just me and my friends?!) , but research also says that if you boil up some banana skins for 15 mins and drink the water once cooled the result is supposed to be a banana-y-camomile tea which packs a serotonin punch… now, in the name of research I tried this and I can tell you that if you boil a banana skins, it tastes just like… boiled banana skins. But if this floats your boat then you’ll no doubt be bouncing off the ceiling of happiness.

2. Popcorn – Although we’re now all trained that carbs are bad, there is proof that once eaten carbs release serotonin into the brain. But instead of reaching for that packet of crisps its better to have a bag of popcorn because they’re low in fat and high in carbs. They’re also more quickly digested into the stomach so perfect if you need a ‘happy high’ quickly.

3. Dark leafy greens (Ma was right, you should always eat your greens) – lettuce may be the dieters food of choice but its got little to recommend it nutritionally, however rocket, spinach and watercress are all high in magnesium which is responsible for relaxing muscles and helping the body cope with stress!! Pick up a crayfish and rocket sandwich for lunch and you may be literally laughing, as crayfish is packed with selenium which helps ward off depression. (I’ll never look at that Pret sandwich in the same way)

4.Eggs – not only packed with protein but they also give a contain the de-stressing amino acid taurine, which inhibits adrenaline in the body and helps your body eliminate the stress hormone cortisol. The result = the feeling that nothing can affect you.

5. Coffee –  WOO! Its official ladies and gentlemen, coffee is not bad for your health. (Break in writing while she goes to boil the kettle for the third cup of the day)  Research from the Innsbruck Medical University, Austria, used scans to confirm that caffeine stimulates the part of your brain governing short-term memory and attention. (Although if caffeine makes you feel ill then please don’t force that latte down yourself on my account.)

So, there you go.. eat yourself happier. What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this or any of my older posts.

Enjoy the sunshine!

More soon.