2016 hasn’t been too kind and many people are trying to find ways to escape their misery. The Google Play Store is full of apps that claim to increase happiness, while nutritionists are offering all sorts of colorful foods to boost serotonin and dopamine levels (the chemicals in our brains responsible for happiness), and fitness instructors insist that the after-burn of a workout will bring a smile to your sweaty face.
If you’re still looking for some extra happiness boosts, however, why not try out some of the items on our list?
Feast on Bananas, Berries, and Dark Chocolate
These three foods have been scientifically proven to increase your happiness. Bananas are well known for being rich in potassium, but they are also full of vitamin B12. Low levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to increased depression, so if you want to be happy, increase your banana intake. Banana are also have tryptophan, which is a mood regulator in humans. Add some valproic acid and anthcyanidin and you’ve got a very elated fruit salad.
Don’t know what those chemicals are? Well, they’re found in berries and fruits, like raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Valproic acid has been used in some prescription mood-stabilizing drugs, since its chemical properties can regulate mood. Anthcyanidin fights inflammation, another pesky problem that can increase depression.
It’s not just fruit and berries that can help your misery though. Eating some dark chocolate can also increase your happiness. Dark chocolate can combat cortisol, the hormone that causes you to stress out. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which destroy cortisol, thus reducing your stress and making you a bit more joyous. Maybe consider mixing some delicious dark chocolate with bananas and berries for a delicious, happiness-inducing smoothie.
Make Sure to Get Enough Sleep
Multiple studies have been conducted to research the connection between sleep and mood-stabilization. Sleep deprivation can increase stress and depression in individuals. It is this reason why lack of sleep causes people to be grumpy, anxious, and overall unpleasant to be around. This further interrupts our daily lives and soon areas such as work, social communication, even sex can begin to suffer.
According to brain scans conducted on sleep deprived individuals, researchers noted that a tired brain accumulates an increased amount adenosine. Adenosine is the chemical that signals and causes drowsiness and during sleep, the brain cleans out its accumulated adenosine. However, without sleep, adenosine continues to affect the brain. It is this chemical that causes drowsy drivers to drive horribly and in some cases, even get into fatal car crashes. Further, a sleep-deprived brain also loses its control over the flight or fight response. In a well-rested brain, the amygdala is responsible for the flight or fight response, but is held in check by the healthy prefrontal cortex. If an individual is sleep deprived, however, the prefrontal cortex cannot control the amygdala very well. This causes us to become overwhelmed, anxious, and can even lead to the development of insomnia and mental health issues.
So put down your iPad, turn off the lights, and nestel down deep into your bed. Rest that exhausted noggin of yours.
Use Calming Apps
Still feeling a bit sad after your nap? Well, there may be an app to help with that. Multiple apps have been advertised as calming and stress-reducing, while others promote breathing exercises to diminish anxiety.
Calm uses guided meditation to help users reduce their stress. The app comes with multiple, guided meditation sessions and also provides tips and tricks for users to increase their calming experience.Not to be left out, Headspace also uses guided meditation and other exercises to encourage their users to reduce their anxieties. However, this app differs from Calm in that it also encourages users to use a technique called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the act of being conscious or aware of something in the present moment. In psychology, mindfulness becomes more personal and is the act of an individual being aware of their emotions, and then acknowledging and accepting them. This can be therapeutic for some individuals, since it allows them to recenter themselves in moments of panic. By encouraging self-control, people can learn how to regulate their emotions in a healthy manner, and reduce their unhappiness.
Give these techniques and apps a try. Or, try this method to cheer yourself up. It sure made us giggle.
Featured photo by lesley gouger