The feel-good factor: 7 surprising ways to get happy
Happiness can seem elusive when you’re a busy mum and only focused on changing yet another nappy for the umpteenth time, or pulling apart two squabbling siblings when you should be cooking dinner. Happiness? Pah, who’s got time? But there are some very simple everyday ways to be happy, keep sane and boost those happy chemicals in your brain. Here are seven ways to feel good now.
Feel-good factor #1: Talk more
A study by US researchers Tom Rath and Jim Harter revealed that we need six hours of social interactivity a day for maximum happiness. We all know that talking to no one but your bub or toddler can drive any parent batty, so make sure you fit in plenty of talk-time each day. It doesn’t have to be your best friend; social interaction can happen while you're doing a yoga class, chatting to the local newsagent, taking a tea break with your co-workers, arranging a play date for your child, or a ritual morning coffee with the mum’s group.
Feel-good factor #2: Eat a (small) piece of chocolate cake
OK, you’ll love this one: If you’re feeling low, a chocolate donut or Tim Tam can often make you feel better. Despite the obvious fact that chocolate tastes good, it’s also a fact that new research has shown that fatty foods do comfort our inner selves. "Eating fat seems to make us less vulnerable to sad emotions, even if we don't know we're eating fat," says Dr Lukas Van Oudenhove, whose research found that depressive emotion is reduced when fatty foods are consumed. So tuck into a (smallish) piece of cake and feel happy fast.
Feel-good factor #3: Fight friendly
Has he left you to do the washing-up again? Well, if you lose your temper – and can also manage to gently tease your partner during the argument - you’ll end up feeling happier when the disagreement blows over, according to a study by the University of California at Berkeley, US. The study states that, while it’s helpful to pass on your cross emotions during a row, keeping a smile on your face can make all the difference about how you relate to each other afterwards. See, there is a point to blowing one’s steam!
Feel-good factor #4: Take Zumba classes
If you love doing Zumba classes, ballroom dancing or just strolling through the park – keep at it. It may not burn a huge amount of kilojoules, but it will make a difference to your health. Research conducted at the University of Michigan in the US shows that mums who exercise because it makes them feel happier or more energised are more likely to keep it up than those who workout just to look better. Go on, start moving those hips!
Feel-good factor #5: Read Dr Seuss to your kids
If you don’t like Green Eggs and Ham, you should. A study by the College of Business at the University of Michigan, found that Dr Seuss books encourage creativity in children, and discourage snobbery, social exclusion and materialism. The study noted that “children raised on Dr Seuss had improved odds of growing up to be happy adults”. So reading The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who and Hop On Pop to your kids has twice the benefit, as we reckon some of that silliness rubs off on adult readers, too. Oh, The Places You’ll Go …
Feel-good factor #6: Download a song
Music is known to soothe a savage beast so, err, not that we’re implying you’re a beast. Or savage. Or … Okay let’s start that one over again. Listening to music makes people feel good. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, have discovered the brain releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical, on listening to a favourite song. So download the latest Katy Perry tune, that catchy Lady Gaga one, that fave Abba song you always sing along to or whatever causes your feet to start tapping - and watch your smile grow.
Feel-good factor #7: Have an ‘experience’
A new study conducted at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that experiences bring greater happiness and satisfaction than buying or owning possessions. So, while you might feel remorse or stress after buying an exxy pair of Armani shoes, a holiday or bike ride rarely leads to a negative state of mind. Especially enjoyable and memorable experiences - such as learning how to snorkel, exploring the beach with your children, volunteering at the school canteen or having a Sunday picnic in the park with friends and family – will resonate happiness within for a long time.
This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidspot.com.au and adapted for Kidspot.co.nz