Do these four things to be happier today

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1. Name the emotion

If you’re feeling a negative emotion like sadness or anger, label that emotion. It may seem simple, but your brain responds when you put your feelings into words.

One MRI study showed that when a participant was shown images of people expressing emotions on their faces, their amygdala activated to the emotions they were seeing. When they were told to name the emotion, “the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity.” This essentially means that when you consciously recognize the emotions you are having, it can reduce the impact of those emotions on your brain.

You will start to realize that for the most part our day-to-day emotions are not really connected to anything specific. They can be caused by anything. That outburst at someone or could be because of waking up with a headache, indigestion, or forgetting your keys on your way to work.  We can also pick up energies from other people.  Have you ever been in your car and gotten angry for no reason?  It can be helpful to ask yourself, is this anger or other emotion (name the emotion) mine or someone else’s?

2. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for.

In The Upward Spiral, Korb says that the benefits of gratitude “start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable.” Gratitude can also boost the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is what many antidepressants do. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. You can be grateful for something very simple such as the beautiful day or a smile from a stranger – it doesn’t have to be a big thing. As emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. So even if you have trouble finding something to be grateful for, merely asking yourself the question means you’re on the right path to happiness.

3. Be decisive!

There’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than feeling like you’ve got unfinished business. Simply making a decision about something can reduce anxiety rather than allowing yourself to spend more time hesitating over all of the scenarios and outcomes that the decision will result in. “Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety,” says Korb. Making decisions also allows people to feel more in control — feeling “out of control” can also cause feelings of worry. And when you do make a decision and the outcome of that decision happens to be a positive one, then even better!

There’s a book that’s really helped me, called Getting Things Done.  Great book, check it out.

4. Hug and touch loved ones and friends.

Social interactions have been proven to increase a person’s feelings of acceptance and therefore happiness, but The Upward Spiral takes it a bit further. “One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching,” the book says. Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter to the brainPsycholology Today says that it’s known as the “love hormone” because it “regulates social interaction and sexual reproduction, playing a role in behaviors from maternal-infant bonding and milk release to empathy, generosity, and orgasm.” So when people touch, hug, or kiss others, oxytocin levels actually increase. “Oxytocin is the hormone that underlies trust. It is also an antidote to depressive feelings,” says the site. According to Korb, holding hands with someone during a painful experience can comfort you and your brain and help reduce the reaction to pain. So, more hugs!

Adapted from an article in Popsugar by Hilary White

 

Eight Things Happy People Do Every Morning

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Eight Things Happy People Do Every Morning

Sometimes, mornings begin in a rushed panic. When we start out our days with stress, it stays with us throughout the rest of the day. We can’t get acupuncture every morning or we would, right? So we need to find other ways to set the tone for our day. It may not surprise you to know that happy individuals tend to enjoy their mornings. They appear to thrive on waking up with the sun and look forward to a new day or possibilities. These happy people have humble morning rituals that increase their own sense of well-being and give their day purpose. Try adding in as many of these habits as possible for 3 weeks and see how differently you feel:

1. Wake up with a sense of gratitude.
Practicing gratitude is one of the highest energy choices you can make in your day. Start the day with love. Be appreciative of your life and all of its little treasures.

Practice small acts of gratitude in the morning by expressing thankfulness to your partner, pet, children or nature each morning. You may also write a gratitude list every day. Pick 5 things you’re grateful for that morning – you can even put future events into the present tense such as “I am grateful that my meeting is smooth, successful and that I connect well with everyone present.” You can do this each morning and evening. It only takes a few minutes and can make a big difference in your overall heath and life. It’s also fun to go back and read things that you’ve written some time ago and feel grateful for them again!

2. Begin anew each and every morning.
Know that it’s a brand-new day to start over and do something different. Yesterday may have been a complete failure for you (and was it really?), but today is a new day for success and adventure. People who aren’t ruined by one bad day are resilient creatures. Resiliency is a telltale sign of having purpose and happiness.

3. They do some affirmations..
Happy people start their day by visualizing how their best day will play out that day. Happy people even use affirmations to declare how their day will go. They might say, I’m excited to have an amazing day today. I am grateful to feel respected, loved, connected, successful and abundant in every way. I give thanks for all of the amazing gifts and blessings that will come my way today. Or even a simple one such as I love and accept myself and others. Or come up with your own ones.

4. Read Inspiring Quotes or Books – NOT the morning news.
Some happy people read an uplifting book, while others read inspiring stories or quotes to get their day started. Either way,make it a ritual to read something that uplifts you and makes you feel wonderful.

5. Keep things simple.
Complex morning routines are difficult to stick to and set us up for failure. Happy individuals’ routines are simple for them because they prepared the night before. They picked out their work attire, prepared their lunch, set their coffee to brew — all the night before. A simple routine limits any multitasking that most people do in the morning to ensure that they make it to work on time. Multitasking may create stress and anxiety and steal your peace during your first waking hours.

6. Exercise.
Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. It is also one of the only ways to eliminate excess cortisol in the body. However, if your exercise is too intense it can raise cortisol levels so pay attention to your body and it’s response. Exercise is a big enough priority that happy folks tend to do it first thing in the morning so that they don’t have to try to make time later in the day for it. They recognize that willpower is strongest in the morning.

7. Meditate. Meditation for even 10 minutes in the morning can transform your day. You don’t have to do the empty your mind meditation if it’s too difficult. Try imagining your whole body filling with light and have the light flow all around you encompassing you in a gorgeous light ball. Or if that takes too much effort, YouTube has some great meditations that you can watch. Just go to https://www.youtube.com and enter key words that resonate with you such as meditation for stress or meditation for anxiety.
Meet yourself where you are and do what feels good to you.

8. Find positive things to focus your attention on. Even something as simple as really enjoying breakfast or a cup of tea or coffee. Thinking about how grateful you are that the car started that morning or being happy that you have comfortable shoes. You can notice a beautiful tree or sunrise. Or an act of kindness between two people. Look for the good and things you can appreciate.

How many of these habits do you perform each morning? Are there others that you would like to see on the list?

Stress Busters

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I heard one of the best answers to my stress question when I asked a patient about her current stress levels. She said, “It depends on the story I’m telling myself that day”. Brilliant. So conscious and so true.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you have a pattern for coping with stress. Unfortunately, most people have found patterns and methods that do not support good health.
If you want to be truly successful in coping with stress you need to identify negative thinking patterns or stories, and replace them with the following:
1. Train yourself to think like an optimist.
What distinguishes an optimist from a pessimist is the way in which one explains both good and bad events. Instead of blaming, for example, you recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Instead of getting angry, you forgive. Instead of being down on yourself, you recognize that you did your best, given the circumstances.
2. Make a real effort to talk to yourself in a positive way.
There is a constant dialogue taking place in our heads, and our self-talk makes an impression on our subconscious mind. In order to develop or maintain a positive mental attitude, you must stop negative self-talk in it’s tracks. Notice when you do it and consciously stop that train of thought by noticing something positive around you or something positive about yourself.
Become aware of your self-talk and then consciously work to imprint positive self-talk on the subconscious mind. Two powerful tools for creating positive self-talk are questions and affirmations…

3. Ask better questions.
A powerful tool for improving the quality of self-talk and hence the quality of life is a series of questions by Anthony Robbins, author of the bestsellers Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within.
According to Tony, the quality of your life is equal to the quality of the questions you habitually ask yourself. For example: An individual is met with a particular challenge or problem. He or she can ask a number of questions in this situation, such as “Why does this always happen to me?” or, “Why am I always so stupid?”
The answers to these questions don’t build self-esteem. A better question would be, “What can I learn from this situation or do to make it better?” If you want more happiness in your life, simply ask yourself the following questions on a consistent basis: “What am I most happy about in my life right now?” and “Why does that make me happy?”

4. Use positive affirmations.
An affirmation is a short statement with some emotional intensity behind it. Positive affirmations can make imprints on the subconscious mind to create a healthy, positive self-image. In addition, affirmations can actually fuel the changes you desire.
You may want to have the following affirmations in plain sight to recite them over the course of the day:
• I am blessed with an abundance of energy.
• Love, joy, and happiness flow through me with every heartbeat.
• I am thankful for all of my good fortune.
• Yes, I can!

5. Set positive goals.
Learning to set goals is another powerful method for building a positive attitude and raising self-esteem. Goals can be used to create a “success cycle.”
Achieving goals helps you feel better about yourself, and the better you feel about yourself, the more likely that you will achieve your goals.
Here are some guidelines to use when setting goals:
• State the goal in positive terms. For example, it’s better to say “I enjoy eating healthy, low-calorie, nutritious foods” than “I will not eat sugar, candy, ice cream, and other fattening foods.”
• Make your goal attainable and realistic. Little things add up to make a major difference in the way you feel about yourself.
• Be specific. The more clearly your goal is defined, the more likely you are to reach it.
• State the goal in the present tense, not the future tense. In order to reach your goal, you have to believe you have already attained it.
• Set short-term goals that can be used to help you achieve your long-term goals. Get into the habit of asking yourself the following question each morning and evening: “What must I do today to achieve my long-term goal?”

6. Practice positive visualizations.
Many people believe that we have to be able to see our lives the way we want them to be before it happens. In terms of ideal health, you absolutely must picture yourself in ideal health if you truly want to experience this state.
You can use visualization in all areas of your life, but especially for your health. Be creative and have fun with positive visualizations.

7. Get acupuncture treatments on a consistent basis. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce levels of stress and change the way people feel stress in their body when done on a consistent basis. My patients will tell you that it’s also very relaxing.