Positive psychology specialist Florence Servan-Schreiber suggests a series of actions that can help foster happiness thanks to their scientifically proven effects on the brain.
Make love more often
Sexually active individuals are generally more optimistic and positive for the simple reason that sex leads to the release of serotonin, a natural antidepressant. Give free rein to your emotions and let all that nervous tension ease away.
Laughter, like exercise, makes the body produce endorphins — the happiness hormones — and strengthens our immune system.
Spend more time with friends
Social interactions play an important role in improving quality of life, health and happiness levels.
Neuroscientists and psychologists have found that altruism lowers levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), reducing inflammation, slowing heart rate, reducing blood pressure and pain.
Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Several studies have highlighted a link between omega-3 fatty acids and improved mood. Found in nuts — particularly walnuts — as well as seeds (chia, linseed), oily fish and certain oils (canola, walnut, linseed). These essential fatty acids are veritable mood lifters.
Meditation focuses the mind and body on the present moment. This allows us to take control of the body’s autopilot and curb wandering thoughts. With regular practice (ten minutes per day at first), you can learn to appease mind and body, and bring about a state of calm.
Get busy in the garden
Mowing the lawn, digging, picking and gathering, stacking wood, weeding and raking are all manual activities which, as well as connecting us to the real world, help awaken all five senses and focus attention on the task in hand, not unlike hypnosis.
In times of stress and overwork, chewing gum can help relieve pressure in the brain. In fact, chewing can boost blood flow to the brain by 25% to 40%, in turn increasing the amount of oxygen getting to the brain.
A waft of vanilla
Smells and essences can affect our mood considerably. Vanilla has been the focus of several scientific studies and could be the most effective aroma for uplifting our state of mind.
Take a nap
Napping for 30 minutes per day has many health benefits, while also making us more efficient and creative.
Get back to nature
Walks in the countryside can not only make us happier, but also reduce our tendency to mull over and dwell on negative thoughts. If the sun is shining, the mood-lifting benefits will be even greater. Plus, wide open spaces can fill us with awe and wonder, which can help foster feelings of fulfillment.