How to turn up your happiness dial
Posted by PR Neom
It’s hardly realistic to go through life grinning like a Cheshire cat and in reality, who would want to? There’s nothing worse than having to put #gameface on and pretend you’re on top of the world when all you really want to do is stay in bed and pull the covers over your head.
“No-one can be happy all the time and we are not looking to eliminate ‘negative’ emotions in the quest for happiness,” explains Dr Emma Hepburn aka @thepsychologymum, clinical psychologist and prolific Instagram campaigner for raising awareness around mental health.
There’s also a difference between quick fix happy vibes and an underlying current of feeling contentment. “Happiness is often broken down into two aspects – pleasure and engagement-meaning components. Pleasure can be thought about as short-term hedonic enjoyment while engagement-mesanins is a longer-term satisfaction with life. Pleasure is an important component, but we need to consider a state of wellbeing which is about feeling content and valued,” continues Emma.
But it’s not always easy to keep your happiness on a slow-burn. And while you might have blamed your hormones or your head in the past, there are other factors that play a part in dictating your mood. “While emotions are intrinsically connected to your brain, your mood is a result of a complex interplay between environmental factors and your brain and body’s response to this,” says Emma. She flags stress (both past and present) as one of the biggest fun sponges. Loneliness, a lack of engagement with others, illness, work, relationship or money worries are other triggers that can fuel stress and it’s important to remember it’s different for everyone. And while we all have our coping mechanisms (hi there retail therapy), despite the initial serotonin hit, it’s short lived and all of a sudden our wellbeing and mood is back in jeopardy.
Happy to help
That’s where you can start to rely on a happiness toolkit to keep you feeling upbeat and content. Exercise, even if it’s a low intensity stroll is a good one, especially if you can get outside and immerse yourself in nature. Hanging out with friends and family that you love and who make you laugh is another no-brainer. Not bottling up any negative emotions or problems is a must too – remember the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ – we’re firm believers. Getting enough sleep will keep you feeling calm and content while Melanie Lawson, founder of Bare Biology (who has suffered from anxiety and depression) and who we’ve partnered with in our happiness edit, recommends a gratitude journal. “When I feel particularly down I try to think of all the things I’m grateful for and imagine how much worse my life could be. It sounds obvious but it does help to get the brain out of a negative cycle,” she says.
What you eat is another way to help achieve a natural high and there is growing evidence of the link between Omega 3 levels and our mood. “Scientists know that Omega 3 levels are low in people with depression and that societies who eat large amounts of oily fish (a source of Omega 3) have much lower rates of mental health problems,” explains Melanie. As a quick lowdown, there are two main types of Omega 3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA and these are the big guns when it comes to making us feel good. “DHA primarily plays a role in developing neurons while EPA is crucial for chemical signalling between brain cells and can influence levels of feel-good serotonin,” says Melanie. So, if we’re not getting enough of the stuff it could be one of the reasons why you’re feeling off-kilter. It’s also why it’s argued that fish oils are still the best source as DHA isn’t found in vegetarian or vegan Omega 3 supplements.
Plus, it’s not just your mental health that can benefit from these fabulous fatty chain acids, it’s a corker for lubricating joints, keeping your ticker ticking along, improving your skin and helping your vision.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with Bare Biology as part of our Happiness Edit. With their Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules containing the same amount of DHA as a whole tin of sardines, we’ve made taking them part of our morning ritual. If it means we could be one step closer to not overreacting every time someone cuts us up on the road or help us from feeling overwhelmed and stressed less often, we’re in.