Surprising ways to improve your mood
Sleeping on the left side of the bed can make you happy? It sure can, and there are plenty more surprising mood enhancers where that came from. Here are 10 somewhat strange things that can make you happier:
Surprising happiness booster 1: Getting older
Suddenly we've perked up at the thought of getting older. Experts suggest that the further we advance into our mature years, the happier we are. Researchers from Tufts University suggest that this cheerfulness stems from the older generation's ability to identify what makes them happy or sad and react accordingly. Experts also suggest that feelings of contentment amongst older people may be down to certain chemicals found in older brains that lead to feelings of stability and happiness. Whilst our physical quality of life may decline when we get older, it appears that the only way is up when it comes to our emotions – we always knew the big black cloud of getting older would have a silver lining.
Surprising happiness booster 2: Morning sex
We all know that sex is a natural mood enhancer, but morning sex is scientifically proven to give you an extra boost. Researchers have revealed that those who begin their day with a cheeky sex session release higher amounts of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which supplies them with a loving, happy feeling all day long. So ladies and gentlemen, leave your cup of tea and toast for when you get to work, and get it on in the bedroom before you head out of the door. This is a sure-fire way to inject some much needed happiness into your day.
Surprising happiness booster 3: Sleeping on the left side of the bed
Research released in December 2011 reveals that on average, those who sleep on the left side of the bed are happier than their right-sided counterparts. The study of 3000 adults revealed that out of those who slept on the left hand side of the bed, more than a quarter felt that they had a positive outlook on life compared to the paltry 18 per cent of right-side sleepers who felt considerably less upbeat. Next time someone sarcastically asks whether you got out of the wrong side of the bed, you can say “actually, yes I did” – good excuse!
Surprising happiness booster 4: Get six hours and 26 minutes of sleep per night
Researchers carried out a study on 4000 people to determine how happy they were on a scale of one to 10. The study revealed that those who slept for six hours and 26 minutes rated their mood the highest – bit random, but a handy piece of information to know. So, whilst you may prefer to snuggle back down under the covers after six hours of shut-eye, it might be worth getting up and starting your day early to top up your happiness levels.
Surprising happiness booster 5: Cut out fast food
When we feel a bit down, fast food such as pizzas and takeaways is often the first thing we reach for, but researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria suggest that this can make us feel worse. The researchers carried out a test on those who ate junk food and those who opted for healthier meals; the results revealed that the junk food lovers were 51 per cent more likely to develop depression than those who ate foods with fewer chemicals in. To boost your mood, incorporate foods rich in iodine, calcium, magnesium and fibre into your diet for a good dose of feel-good hormones.
Surprising happiness booster 6: The colour of your walls
In the words of Picasso “colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions”. That guy certainly knew his stuff; colour psychology encompasses the moods, feelings and behaviours elicited by certain colours. Red is known for making people feel angry and anxious, whilst blue is calming; keep this in mind when decorating your home. Use colours that have a negative impact on your mood sparingly, and add a splash of yellow or blue to boost your mood.
Surprising happiness booster 7: Don't be money hungry
Many of us ponder how much happier we'd be if we had more money, and we believe that a bulkier bank account will lead to a happier life. Too much money, however, is proven to significantly lower your mood. Look at the high-profile celebrities whose success has led them to drugs and alcohol addictions; we can get to a point where we have all the material things one could wish for, but only feel miserable. Those with less well endowed bank balances are often happier and appreciate the finer things in life in comparison to those who have a thriving bank account and nothing left to spend it on. While a little treat every now and again can significantly boost our mood, the novelty of being rich can wear off once you have so much cash that you can buy anything you want. It's time to start loving our bank accounts the way they are.
Surprising happiness booster 8: Quick thinking
In 2009, researchers from Harvard and Princeton underwent a study in which they asked people to watch the television in fast forward and to come up with solutions to problems quickly. The research revealed that fast thinking and reading led to feelings of elation, with some of the subjects saying that they also felt a heightened sense of creativity and power when they thought quicker. Experts suggest that this is due to a high level of dopamine, a feel-good hormone, which is released when we think faster. Best get thinking in fast forward then...
Surprising happiness booster 9: Buying a plane ticket instead of shopping
Spending all of your money on material things can harm your satisfaction in life. Rather than splashing out on stuff that you probably won't be so fond of in a couple of months or years, save up for a life experience. Why not travel to a country you've always dreamed of? Opting for a memorable experience rather than a material possession will prolong your happiness.
Surprising happiness booster 10: Shortening your commute to twenty minutes
Commuting to work is never the most exciting part of our day and research proves that – after getting stressed at the traffic and angry at the lights (that always seem to go red on us) – driving tends to lower our mood dramatically. In a recent study, however, experts discovered that a short commute of no longer than 20 minutes can significantly improve your mood. Researchers examined the mood of 4000 adults and noticed a dramatic improvement in the frame of mind for the subjects who spent a maximum of 20 minutes commuting to work. Cut down the time you spend commuting and you're on track for a better day.
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