A Happy Brain

At the moment life is really busy. I always knew 2016 would be, with weddings, milestone birthdays, holidays and work, but it’s flying by so fast and I feel tired a lot of the time, not just physically, but mentally too.

I am lucky really….most of my busy is good, happy stuff and really exciting – but sometimes I am finding I forget to really appreciate the fun, happiness and time spent with friends and family. Often I find my happiness is also accompanied by a small amount of anxiousness, stress or a freak-out moment – when I think about the next thing I’m doing!

So, for this blog post I thought I would focus on some simple things that I’ve read that can help us tune into our ‘happy brain’.

How we experience life boils down to the chemicals in our brain. Happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety – all can be traced to what’s going on inside our head.

Happiness can be found in the seemingly insignificant, mundane things we do every day. These give your brain a boost of feel-good chemicals and keeps them flowing.

Our brains are positive feedback systems, meaning that being happy often leads to more happiness – and that sounds good to me!

So here goes, my top 5 Happy Brain “pills”…

  1. Give or get a hug – A long hug releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, the bonding hormone. It calms down fear and just makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
  2. Get out in the sun – Bright sunlight helps boost the production of serotonin in your brain. Make an effort to get outside on your lunch hour or go for a walk on a sunny day. We are due some sun this weekend – so we should all feel better!
  3. Remember some happy memories – Even if they are nostalgic and make you cry initially, just thinking about happy times boosts serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is necessary for the highest functioning of your prefrontal cortex, the executive, which controls self-reflection and your emotions, helping it to override old knee-jerk patterns.
  4. Spend time with a pet – Just stroking your pet or even someone else’s can increase the oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine in your brain. Several studies have shown that having a pet can reduce depression, encourage healthier habits, and increase feelings of connectedness. You can all borrow Basil if you like. He is a great stress reducer!
  5. Full ‘body scan’ meditation breathing – Starting by taking long, deep breaths into your tummy, which slows your heart rate and activates calm. Guide your attention to the top of your head and then slowly downwards through every part of your body, being aware only of the sensations on your body and letting all muscles relax, all the time maintaining steady breathing and trying to zone out from noises around you.

Finally, smile and laugh…. It’s a simple thing to do and but it really does improve your mood.

This picture is from the Instabooth at Rebecca’s wedding at the weekend, which was full of smiles, fun and happiness 🙂

wedding 2