Are you hungry for adventure or longing for that rush of excitement that a first-time experience brings you?
Life with chronic illness, injury or disability can be pretty dull – with mostly unpleasant surprises instead of exciting ones. Unfortunately, backpacking through Europe, rock climbing or partying at festivals are probably not in the cards for you right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a sense of novelty and excitement to your day-to-day life.
When you break out of your usual routine, your brain releases the happiness hormone dopamine to store information in your memory and create new neural connections.
So if you have some energy to spare, boost your happiness by shaking things up with ‘mini adventures’.
Emotions affect almost 90% of your reactions to various situations in life. However, you know you are controlled by your emotions if your mood changes depending on circumstances. Some situations are easy to handle while others are hard to control. For the difficult ones, you have to learn the skills to stop such feelings from controlling you and reduce their impact on your life. It requires a lot of practice and dedication to master the art of controlling your emotions. Nonetheless, the results are worth all the efforts.
Here are 10 ways how to handle your emotions and stop yourself from being a slave to them.
But our modern-day fixation on happiness has some downsides. When you expect to wake up with a smile every day, it can be hard to deal with the sadness and anxiety you’ll inevitably feel. Accepting negative emotions as a normal part of life may actually protect you from developing depressive symptoms. What’s more, because there’s so much focus on what you yourself can do to feel happier, our positivity culture puts a lot of responsibility on a person’s shoulders. If you aren’t jumping for joy, you must be doing something wrong.
One of the reasons why we struggle with the pursuit of happiness, is the way we define being happy.
What does ‘happiness’ mean to you?
Happiness can mean a lot of different things to different people. In the English language and positive psychology field, ‘happiness’ can refer to:
fleeting emotions of joy, excitement and pleasure;
a collection of multiple positive emotions over time;
a global assessment of your life satisfaction.
You’ve probably read plenty of headlines about “20 ways to feel happier instantly” in the past few years. And although it’s important to learn how you can cultivate more positive emotions like hope, joy and awe, we pay a lot of attention to our day-to-day fluctuations in happiness. But being cheerful all the time under tough circumstances like chronic illness, financial problems and relationship troubles is hard – and arguably not that healthy.
What if we’d focus more on happiness as an overall, long-term sense of contentment? Instead of being triggered by outside events or momentary thoughts, true happiness would be more about how satisfied you are with your life most of the time. Not that you should be happy-go-lucky every day, but that you experience an enduring appreciation of your family and friends, career or life-as-a-whole.
To ponder what true happiness means to you, take a look at these 12 uplifting happiness quotes.
Life gets all of us down sometimes. And that’s perfectly normal – you shouldn’t push your sadness, anxiety or loneliness away. But it isn’t helpful to get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, feelings and behavior either.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to instantly boost your mood. You might be tempted to drown your sorrows by eating junk food, having one more glass of wine or obsessively checking your phone. Those actions might brighten your mood for a moment, but they’ll only make you feel even worse afterwards.
To really get out of your funk, take a look at these 45 ways to cheer yourself up when you’re down (that don’t involve ice cream).
We’ve all experienced how singing along to your favorite tunes or trusting your thoughts to your diary can make you feel better. But did you know that regularly engaging in creative activities actually boosts your happiness and health?
Art therapy is a kind of therapy that uses creative self-expression in the form of painting, drawing or sculpting to support the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems. Other creative activities like music, dancing and writing are also praised for their health benefits.
Studies show that art therapy not only provides distraction, but also relieves stress and improves your mental health. Because visual art transcends language, it helps people express emotions that are hard to put into words. Even celebrated artists like Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh probably turned to painting as an emotional outlet, to help them cope with disability and mental illness. What’s more, being creative can evoke positive emotions like joy, awe and inspiration – all of which help build your resilience.
Art in all its forms can even promote your physical health. Recent research reveal that art therapy reduces pain when offered during acute hospitalizations. Listening to your favorite music also results into requiring less pain medication after surgery and boosts your brain health. Finally, dance training turns out to be a helpful tool in rehabilitation settings, to improve the balance and gait of patients with reduced mobility.
Pretty impressive, right? So how can you apply art therapy in your own life to boost your health and happiness?
First of all, you should know that art therapy has less to do with being ‘artistic’ than you might think. It’s about expressing yourself in a creative way, for your own pleasure and self-development. You don’t need special skills or difficult techniques. So silence your inner critic and perfectionist tendencies and take a look at these44 creative ideas to get started.
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