A recent newspaper article reported that people aged 40-59 are least happy and most anxious. Oh dear! Sounds awful, but I can totally relate. I see a lot of people in this age range (mostly women, but some men) who are feeling anxious, fed-up, stressed or generally tired or unhappy. Now this is not about people who are tearing their hair out, looking frazzled and frantic. This is about the fact that it’s a face paced world where there’s always more to do and more going on. The article also said that “the pressure of looking after children and ageing parents could be taking major toll on this age group”. So, here are my top 7 tips to increase your happiness easily and without putting more on your to-do list!
OK, so I know I keep banging on about this in (nearly) all my blogs, but it’s so incredibly effective. When you focus on your breathing, really deep belly breathing it creates calming chemicals to be released. It’s also impossible to breath in the past, or in the future, so your mind has no other option than to stay in the present, away from worries and anxiety.
- Take a long, slow breath in and then a long slow breath out again.
- As you breathe in imagine the breath is coming in through the fingertips and up the arms into the shoulders
- As you breathe out to imagine it’s going through the chest, stomach and legs and out through the toes.
Take a few moments each to notice things you’re grateful or thankful for. Some people prefer to do this in the morning before getting out of bed, others do it generally throughout the day and then some think about this when they get into bed each night. It doesn’t matter when; it’s what you notice that’s important. It doesn’t have to be big important things, it can be little things – like being grateful that you had your umbrella when it started raining (rather than being fed-up and negative about the rain). The more you practice gratitude the easier it will be to notice things you’re grateful for.
3. Self Awareness
Get to know yourself, your body and how it feels. Take 5-10 minutes each day to just sit or lay down, can be morning, night or any other time. Start at head or feet and move through each area of your body and just notice and tightness, tension or anything else. Learning to body scan is so helpful to identify how you really feel. When you can begin to identify aches, pains, tightness and tension then you have this massive big clue to what’s going on with you, so you can catch stressors and stored anxiety early, before it becomes a problem. I know I hold tightness in the back of my neck. When I begin to feel it I know I need to take some time for relaxation and self care.
4. Take a Walk
Just 7 minutes a day can help increase endorphins that make us feel happier. Also increases serotonin and dopamine. Walking also stimulates both sides of your brain so is great for shifting any stuck or unpleasant thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t have to be super strenuous, or take up lots of time or equipment either. I get roughly 20 minutes each morning with Charlie the dog and I have a good friend who regularly goes for a walk at lunchtime (she says it also saved her money instead of going to the shops!).
5. Be Sociable
We are social animals, it’s in our genes, from tribal cavemen times when we needed others around to survive. Being sociable, increases the oxytocin hormone – this sometimes known as the love hormone – however oxytocin also reduces stress levels.
We can get so busy doing ‘things’ rather than just being present by interacting with friends or family. If you really struggle with this, or would rather flop on the sofa each night or lay about in your PJ’s at the weekend, then try fixing meet ups, coffees or something in your diary. It’s easier to do something when there is a commitment to others. I regularly meet my friend one evening a week and we catch up and put the world to rights!
6. Get Creative
Writing, painting, singing, dancing, craft activities, baking – enable us to have that gentle but often intense focus were we are totally absorbed in what we are doing. I can spend hours cooking and baking, others are like that with mindful colouring books which are all the rage just now too. Hobbies and activities like this are not just for children, they can give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction at the end.
Do I have to say much about getting a good nights sleep? Everything is so much easier, brighter and more optimistic when we are not tired. Whatever you need to do, get some sleep! If you struggle to sleep, start with doing 1, 2 and 3 when you get into bed.
Is there something else that you do? Let me know with a comment below or send me an email or pop over to share on my Facebook Page.
Hi, I’m Emma, Hypnotherapist in York with a particular interest in helping you with anxiety, stress, fears and phobias so that you can take back control of your thoughts and feelings. That way you can quickly and easily feel more able to cope with your busy life! There are no magic wands or quick fixes instead I give you personalised tools that work for you and fit with your lifestyle.