Feeling Sad? Wear Something Soft :The texture and weight of what touches your skin -- especially soft, light things like stuffed animals, silky scarves, even gentle breezes -- can have an immediate impact on your level of happiness and contentment, according to a series of recent experiments at Yale University that investigated the link between touch and brain function. Soft materials stimulate the skin’s most delicate pressure-sensitive nerves, which increase your brain’s production of the mood-boosting hormone oxytocin, according to the research. Try this: After a bad day, slip into your comfiest outfit and treat yourself to a few minutes of rest outdoors, focusing on the feel of the evening breeze tickling your skin. No breeze? Too hot? Relax inside facing a fan set on “low” to get the same happiness boost. neurologist Alan Hirsch, M.D., Credit goes to cider’s sweet, tangy aroma -- it stimulates nerve clusters in the brain that can soothe and relax your entire central nervous system. Try this: Not a cider fan? You’ll get the same zen-like feeling by lighting an apple-scented candle or setting out a bowl of fresh apple potpourri, says Dr. Hirsch. People significantly improve their moods within eight weeks just by spending a few minutes each day visualizing -- and mentally rehearsing -- clever ways to handle life’s frustrations. Daydreaming about yourself calmly and confidently tackling day-to-day stressors, like an impatient coworker or grumpy relative, stimulates the release of mood-elevating dopamine, the study authors say. Try this: Recall a time when you and a loved one clashed while planning a party or an outing, and rehearse in your head how you will explain your feelings and opinions the next time it happens so that you will be heard and your views will be respected. Clean Out the ClutterHarvard research suggests spending 20 minutes sorting and tidying a messy corner of your home or office dials down production of adrenaline and other mood-sabotaging stress hormones by 45 percent, helping people feel calmer and more relaxed for up to three hours afterwards. Try this: Next time you feel anxious about the speed bumps in your life, rearrange a cluttered closet, clean off your desk or organize the junk drawer. Calm Down with VanillaOdors affect your moods by activating the limbic system, the emotional switchboard of your brain. When a distinct scent like vanilla reaches this emotion control center, it ramps up your brain’s production of alpha waves, electrical impulses that produce a calmer, happier, more contented mood within three minutes, says Alan Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Try this: Steep a cup of vanilla tea in hot water and sip slowly. Or sniff a bottle of vanilla extract or essential oil slowly and deeply three times whenever you need to de-stress or calm down. Get a Fruit BoostPeople who eat two cups of fruit daily are more optimistic and upbeat compared to those who don’t eat fruit, UCLA researchers say. “Fruit’s complex carbs increase your brain’s production of the antidepressant hormone serotonin by as much as 50 percent,” explains nutrition researcher Pamela Peeke, M.D., “And the more serotonin you produce, the steadier your moods and the more cheerful you’ll feel.” Try this: For best results, eat one cup of fruit with breakfast and one with lunch. “Although no one’s sure yet why, carbs eaten in the first half of the day give a much longer-lasting mood boost than carbs eaten later in the day or at night,” says Dr. Peeke. Massage Your MoodTouch does a body and mind good by stimulating the brain’s endorphin-producing pituitary gland. That’s why two half-hour massages each week can trigger a 30 percent increase in the production of these feel-good hormones. Plus, massage cuts your blood levels of cortisol, the anxiety-triggering stress hormone, by 25 percent, suggest studies at the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute (TRI). In addition, regular massages shift brain wave activity from the right side, which churns out negative emotions, to the left side, which handles positive feelings, says TRI researcher Tiffany Field, M.D. The result: A significant reduction in anxiety, mood swings and sadness after just five rubdowns! Try this: Book yourself a massage or trade rubdowns with a partner. Research says giving massages can trigger the same happy hormonal flux as getting them. Boogie Away the BluesAfter only nine weeks of dancing, participants in a recent Swedish study saw their depression levels improve by 67 percent. “Dancing’s combination of exercise, rhythmic motions and uplifting music prompts your brain to produce a larger, steadier supply of serotonin, the antidepressant hormone,” explains Marie-Annette Brown, Ph.D., author of When Your Body Gets The Blues. Try this: Visit your local library for DVDs that teach the basics of a style of dance you want to learn (or check online sites like Learntodance.com and Learning2dance.com). Practice for 20 to 30 minutes, four times weekly, to get the health boost of the Swiss study subjects. If dancing isn’t your thing, stretch for 20 minutes four times weekly. That gentle workout can boost your spirits by 29 percent, Canadian researchers say. Boogie Away the BluesAfter only nine weeks of dancing, participants in a recent Swedish study saw their depression levels improve by 67 percent. “Dancing’s combination of exercise, rhythmic motions and uplifting music prompts your brain to produce a larger, steadier supply of serotonin, the antidepressant hormone,” explains Marie-Annette Brown, Ph.D., author of When Your Body Gets The Blues. Try this: Visit your local library for DVDs that teach the basics of a style of dance you want to learn (or check online sites like Learntodance.com and Learning2dance.com). Practice for 20 to 30 minutes, four times weekly, to get the health boost of the Swiss study subjects. If dancing isn’t your thing, stretch for 20 minutes four times weekly. That gentle workout can boost your spirits by 29 percent, Canadian researchers say. Give AnonymouslyMaking even modest donations to charity can trigger production of the feel-good hormones oxytocin and dopamine, a National Institutes of Health study suggests. In fact, if you slip change into donation boxes or make a quick drop-off at Goodwill (without anyone noticing), you’ll experience the biggest mood boost, researchers say. The anonymity reminds you that you’re helping because you’re a good, caring person, not because you want approval or recognition from someone. Try this: Help out at a local charity, send a dozen cookies to a church bake sale or just open a door for a stranger. You’ll also feel less worried, according to University of Chicago research that proves that boosting dopamine production helps reduce feelings of chronic stress and anxiety by 63 percent. Use Earplugs at NightIf outside noise is keeping you up at night, use earplugs to shut out those sleep-disrupting sounds so you can sleep soundly -- it'’ll cut your risk of the blues by 67 percent, Brazilian researchers say. Their study shows that sound sleep helps reboot your brain’s delicate biological clock, spiking production of oxytocin, serotonin and other mood-boosting hormones. Try this: Use light-blocking shades on the windows and insert comfortable ear plugs. Order the FishThe brain-nourishing omega-3 fats found in fish can cut your risk of another bout of depression by as much as 250 percent, say researchers at the National Institutes of Health researchers. Try this: Eat 18 ounces of fish weekly or take two to three grams of fish oil daily. Embrace the Sounds of SilenceNonstop exposure to low-level background noise (like people yakking, phones ringing and distant horns blaring) doesn’t just drive you nuts -- it’s also stressful to your nervous system and can dampen your mood by 40 percent, suggests researchers at Cornell University. Try this: Spend 30 minutes twice a say somewhere quiet with zero background noise, say Stanford University researchers. Take Vitamins with BreakfastYour ability to absorb nutrients peaks in the morning, according to studies at the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health, so take your vitamins with your morning meal. Try this: Each morning, take a combo of a basic multivitamin and 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D to rev up your brain’s ability to handle day-to-day stressors with ease. The combo can boost your feelings of contentment and happiness by 30 percent, say Stanford University researchers. 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I absolutely agree about the fabrics and the cider-soft silk ,stroking the cat and a glass of cider in the garden works wonders
Wow that's along post lol.. Makes a lot of sense though .. I can relate to all of that but it's all about balancing good advice with the normal demands of life and energy available.
Other family members deserve consideration.. remembering it's not all about me is important too.
WOW...very helpful info. Jeannie!!! Thank you...
another great Jeannie post!
To elevate our moods and boost happiness, it is so nice to know the avenues given, and I will certainly experiment with them!
A lot of great ideas...thanks!