It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many people the holidays can be full of stress. Between the pressure to meet expectations, the shorter, darker days, and colder weather, it can sometimes be hard to feel happy this time of year. Still, finding ways to be happy is important. It’s no secret that experiencing happiness makes us feel better overall. However, there are also scientifically proven benefits to feeling joy. Happiness has been linked to better overall health and can even give you an immune boost that helps keep the common cold at bay (and that’s something to be happy about this time of year). Fortunately, boosting your happiness doesn’t have to be an elusive pursuit. There are quick and easy ways that you can increase your happiness during the day whether you are at work, home, or school. The next time you’re feeling a little down, give these moves a try. You’re sure to be smiling before long.
Put on your favorite song.
Everyone loves bopping around to their favorite song, and it’s not just because music is associated with good times and celebration. Listening to music has been scientifically shown to release dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that is also released when we are in love. When you put on your favorite song, your brain can’t help but release chemicals that make you feel better. If you’re feeling down, take five minutes to listen to music. If you can move around and sing along that’s great, but if you’re in the office or somewhere else that requires subtlely just pop in your headphones and get an instant boost of happiness.
Take a deep breath.
Your mom’s advice from when you were little still holds true today. If you’re feeling flustered or overwhelmed (which detracts from your happiness), take a deep breath. Harvard studies have shown that taking a deep breath can lower your stress, which is a great way to boost happiness. For a quick pick-me-up, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, drawing the breath deep into your belly. For an added benefit, close your eyes and think of something you’re thankful for with each breath.
Call a friend (or even just think about them).
There’s lot’s of research that shows that having friendships is good for overall health, particularly as we age. Some studies also show that the actual support of our friends isn’t as important to our well-being as the feeling that we can count on our friends to be there if we need them. If you need a boost, call a friend to say “hi,” but make sure not to fall into the trap of complaining about whatever is stressing you out. Instead, take a moment to tell them a highlight of your day or to say that you appreciate them. There are many other ways to boost your happiness, from doing yoga poses or jumping jacks to get your blood moving to writing down things that you are grateful for. Instead of scrolling through Facebook or checking the news the next time you’re feeling sad or stressed, take a moment to interrupt those feelings by giving yourself a boost of joy. It’s the ultimate self-care this season.