Be Happier Now

Above: Spending more time in the sun is just one way to feel happier
Above: Spending more time in the sun is just one way to feel happier

Your happiness depends and comes from many different factors, and while it’s not as simple as flipping a switch, there are surprisingly a number of ways that research has shown can lift your mood. No matter what your mood is right now, it is possible to brighten up your mood in some simple ways. It may sound too good to be true–we all want to be happy–and while long-term happiness is complex, subtle changes to your lifestyle could inject a little more joy into your outlook.

Spend time outside in the sunshine
In a small study conducted at Zayed University, researchers found that people who were suffering from depression and who had low levels of vitamin D who spent more time outside in the sun reported fewer feeling of depression after a seven-week period. The researchers believe the increase in vitamin D levels (UV light from the sun triggers the body to produce vitamin D) results in boosting one’s mood. Proof enough for us to want to step outside during lunch break at work or school, and to add vitamin D supplements to our daily routine.

Get a good night’s sleep regularly
Make getting a proper night’s sleep on a regular schedule a priority if you’re looking for more happiness in your life. In a study conducted in partnership with the National Institute of Health in the United States, focusing on college students over the course of a month, a regular sleep schedule had students feeling not only happier, but also calmer and healthier. We all tend to focus a lot on how many hours we sleep (the National Sleep Foundation says how many hours you need varies per age group; adults 26 to 64 need seven to nine hours) but this study shows the regularity of your sleep schedule is also key.

Limit your fast-food diet
If you’re regularly eating burgers and fries and pop, your bad diet could be linked to your lack of feeling happy, says a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. Whether it’s these salty, fatty, sugary foods that are causing low mood, or a depressed mood leading to you reaching for that greasy take-out food night after night is not clear, but the link should be enough to make you sign up for that fresh produce delivery ASAP if happiness is your goal.

Have more sex
We have all heard that exercise can give you a runner’s high, that is your body releases more endorphins or feel-good hormones, which gives you a feeling of euphoria. This may be why after a bad day at work, you can go to your Spin class and feel like you’ve washed off all of the stress of the day. And while getting your workouts in daily is a great idea, don’t forget that having sex also triggers those same feelings of excitement and well-being thanks to the surge of both endorphins and oxytocin in the body.

Smile
Even if you don’t feel like grinning, smile at someone or even just to yourself while you read this. The muscles in your face that you activate to smile actually sends signals to your brain and triggers activity that leads to a more positive mood. Studies havre also shown that people who’ve had Botox treatments and are unable to frown due to the injections have reported feeling happier and less anxious (and it wasn’t related to feeling more attractive, as the researchers at the University of Cardiff looked at that aspect as well).

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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