Health UPP

Making Choices for Happiness and Improved Mental Health

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Health Upp

Happiness is a positive, complex emotion. It usually depends on a combination of factors, such as genetics, day-to-day experiences, relationships, physical and emotional fitness, coping skills, perspective, and practicing self-care.

Note that while there are steps you can take on your own to try to boost your happiness, please seek help if you are concerned about your mental health. Licensed mental health professionals are available online to offer you support and advice whenever you need it.

Tips for Choosing Happiness:

  1. Practice kindness: Being kind to others is a win-win. You can boost not only your own mood, but also the mood of the recipient of your kindness. Try adopting a “do good, feel-good” attitude in your day-to-day life. Small ways to show kindness include saying please and thank you, offering a compliment, and smiling.
  2. Practice gratitude: Focusing on what you’re grateful for—including small things—can be a mood booster. Make a conscious effort to notice good things and appreciate them. You can try writing them down and reflecting on them to help you keep track of what’s going right in your life.
  3. Smile and laugh: The act of smiling can prompt your brain to release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, all of which are feel-good chemicals in the brain. Laughter can also be a great form of stress relief.
  4. Exercise: Physical activity causes the body to release endorphins, chemicals that trigger a positive feeling. It can energize you and boost your confidence and mood.
  5. Sleep: Regular sleep and getting enough sleep can help your emotional well-being. A more rested brain and body may be more capable of emotional regulation.
  6. Connect with others: Positive relationships can boost happiness. Try reaching out to friends and family or volunteering in your community. Happiness is contagious. If you connect with happy people, you may catch their good vibes, and in turn, you can spread happiness, too, which can be very gratifying.
  7. Go outside: Spending time outside, whether in a park, your yard, or on a rooftop, can increase happiness. Vitamin D from the sun can improve health (but always remember to wear sunscreen). Exposure to natural light during the day can help with sleep regulation at night.
  8. Practice forgiveness: Letting go of grudges can free you from negative thoughts that hinder happiness. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciling with a person or excusing them of harmful behavior. It has to do with letting go of negative feelings and moving on with a peaceful outlook.
  9. Live in the present: Instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, try to focus on the present, on what is happening in the moment.

Physical and Emotional Benefits of Happiness:

Research shows that happiness is positively linked with:

  1. A lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
  2. Lower blood pressure.
  3. Improved sleep.
  4. Reduced stress.
  5. An improved immune system.
  6. Pain reduction.
  7. A longer life.
  8. A greater number of friendships.
  9. An increased tendency for generosity and helpfulness.
  10.  Greater productivity and creativity.

Understanding Happiness

Happiness is subjective—it’s based on personal opinions and feelings. So, what sparks happiness can vary widely from person to person. Keeping track of when you feel happy and the circumstances surrounding your personal feelings of happiness can help you know what choices to make for a happy, positive life.

Happiness is generally known as a positive feeling that ranges from contentment to joy—you may feel various levels of happiness. It can be fleeting, so while nobody is happy all the time, a positive outlook may promote more regular, frequent feelings of happiness, which can help you live a fulfilling, healthy life.

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