Getting every aspect of your life in check can become a chore that ends up making you more unhappy than when you started. You can start getting fit and healthy but then take a motivational blow, making it tough to keep going, kind of like when you’re on a diet and know you shouldn’t eat ice cream but someone puts it right in front of you – what are you supposed to do other than eat it?
Then there are factors that are completely out of our hands. Take easonal affective disorder (SAD) for example. It’s a depressive disorder that causes a person to undergo a depressive episode during a specific season. Despite common confusion that only winter months trigger depressive episodes, a minority of people also experience SAD during the spring and summer months.
Richard D. Martin is a Transformational Coach who leads programs to help people become more positive. After all, isn’t this the first step to happiness?
He gave his advice: “Being happy is our birthright, I think that most of us have forgotten that. Become flexible and resourceful in your attitude towards life’s challenges and remember there is no failure, only feedback.
“Ask questions like ‘what makes me happy?’ and ‘what could I do that will make me happier?’ Having a sense of purpose brings happiness because we are progressing towards what we consider to be a worthy ideal.”
Richard’s top tips:
- Be grateful for everything from the small things to the largest
- Realise that you are doing your best at every moment
- Look for the positive in every situation
- Laugh and smile more often
- Set goals
- Imagine a future that inspires you
To maintain this positive mindset, it’s important to stay motivated. Scientifically speaking, leading a healthy lifestyle leads to an improved day-to-day mood which could help.
Nutritionist, Gillian Killiner explained: “Mood is entwined with your diet, if you feel down from time to time or are prone to low mood or depression eating a diet high in ‘good mood foods’ and low in ‘ mood zapping foods’ can go a long way to balancing how you feel both physically, mentally and emotionally.
“The brain communicates by chemical substances (neurotransmitters) passed from one nerve cell to the next. Most neurotransmitters are made from the food we eat. One of the neurotransmitters that is most sensitive to diet and influential in affecting mood is serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone’.”
Gillian’s top tips:
- Balance your blood sugar – the best way to do this is through reducing caffeine and sugar consumption
- Have protein with every meal – protein contains tryptophan which helps serotonin (the happy hormone) which will leave us feeling alert and content
- Increase you intake of vitamin B – this is a crucial vitamin in the production of serotonin. Studies have shown that a deficiency in B vitamins can lead to depression so stock up on oats, brown rice, eggs and green leafy vegetables.
While diet is one of many important factors involved in a healthy (and happy) lifestyle, there’s another aspect to consider… Exercise.
Personal Trainer, Peter Davison said: “Exercise will release endorphins in the body to give an immediate positive feeling, which is great. I’m interested in how exercise affects people’s lives in a way that will make them feel happier longer term. There’s hundreds of ways exercise can improve a persons quality of life.
“Exercise and eating properly can make you feel lively and have tons of energy, and release a lot of stress. As you get healthier and stronger you’ll become confident and happier.”
While exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress, it’s not the only option. Meet Mary-Jane Burns, a Complementary Therapist.
When working in the catering industry, Mary-Jane Burns didn’t realise the effect her work was having on her health and stress levels. After receiving a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, she decided to see a therapist. Her IBS symptoms eased and her anxiety was lowered.
Mary-Jane agues: “When we feel we are not in control of life, small things can also feel out of proportion and we over react to them.” Cue stress relief.
“There are two types of stress, healthy motivational stress & anxious stress. Anxiety can be eased through even a simple walk, good nutrition and sleep. If sleeplessness is an issue along or other symptoms are reoccurring all types of Complementary Therapy will help. Raindrop Technique using organic aromatherapy oils is always a popular choice with my clients.”
But it doesn’t have to be time-consuming.
Mary-Jane added: “Leading busy lives we fail to recognise the damage stress does to our health. We think we don’t have time because we are thinking of how long it takes to go for Holistic Therapy treatment instead of using easy self help methods as part of our day to day life.
And stress relief doesn’t end there. Shirley Brown Camblin facilitates workshops based on art therapy, something she calls “communicating through creative expression”.
“When you create a piece without reservation or judgement and just let it emerge, it can reveal aspects of yourself you where previously unaware of, I have used this method over the years and have gained a much better understanding of myself and made fantastic progress to the point I am today, showing others how to use art this way.”
The answer is here – by taking on a positive mindset, living a healthy lifestyle and regularly relieving stress in a way that suits us, we can make ourselves as happy as possible. It doesn’t have to be an exhaustion process.