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.

Peace.

Pinkbananashoes.

Xxx

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The Perfect (Skinny) Hangover Cupcakes

After an unexpectedly merry affair last night I’ve been feeling a little bit fragile today and decided that I needed something to cheer me up (and try to blot out the blurry memory of those sambuca shots.)

What I didn’t want to do was feel guilty about eating cake so I found this skinny recipe by The Hairy Bikers. What’s brilliant is there’s hardly any fat in them so you can indulge yourself without worrying about anything so boring as calories. They’re also full of blueberries and lemons which are full of vitamin C which is an antioxidant (bring on the body repair)

They’re also really easy to make, use mostly store cupboard ingredients and are sweet enough to make them feel like a treat. With these, you can literally have your cake and eat it.

I’ve just eaten one (ok I confess I ate two… damn you cider) and although my hangover hasn’t completely gone – it made me very happy.

Enjoy!

xxx

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Ingredients

  • 200g/7oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g/3oz golden caster sugar
  • 100g/3½oz blueberries
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest finely grated
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 150ml/¼ pint low-fat natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • 50ml/2fl oz sunflower oil

For the lemon icing

  • 100g/3½oz icing sugar
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole deep muffin tin with some non-stick paper cases or folded squares of baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, blueberries and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre. Beat the eggs with a large whisk until smooth, then beat in the yoghurt, milk and oil until well combined. Stir into the flour mixture with a large metal spoon until very lightly mixed.
  3. Working quickly, divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake in the centre of the oven for 16–18 minutes or until the cupcakes are well risen and golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  4. To make the lemon icing, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth and runny. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the cupcakes and leave to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.