A Checklist For Happiness and Joy

healthy mindAll of us want to be happy yet often seldom really are. HEALTH speaks to clinical psychologist Dr. Saliha Afridi about a prescription for infusing joy and happiness into our lives now.

The Checklist

Practice good time management – Dr. Afridi says that this is especially valuable to individuals who may experience high stress levels due to impending deadlines or busy schedules at home and work. Planning ahead helps prevent any clashes or delays.

Visualize being happy – a practical exercise is, on a daily basis, imagine yourself happy. Picture yourself in a situation with people you really like, or engaged in an activity that gives you a lot of pleasure. By actively imagining feelings of happiness or recalling happy experiences, you can help to encourage changes in your brain that will predispose you to creating more real-life joy in your daily experiences.

Embrace mistakes – Being a perfectionist can also lead to high levels of stress due to the inability to accept any mistakes, thereby putting you under greater pressure to perform in an acceptable manner, tells Dr. Afridi.

Practice gratitude – One study conducted by positive psychologist Martin Seligman asked participants who considered themselves severely depressed to write down three good things that happened to them each day for 15 days. 94 percent of subjects reported a decrease in depression, while 92 percent said their happiness had increased.

Eat healthy – Since stress can make one change eating habits, it is important to ensure that the body gets the correct nutrients it needs. “A good diet can help tackle some of the ill effects of stress and some of the inflammation caused by it,”
explains Dr. Afridi.

During intensely scheduled periods – Try giving yourself “mini-breaks.” Take a brief moment between tasks and obligations to pause, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and feel what it’s like to be “outside of time.”

Get a good amount of sleep – Sleep, says Dr. Afridi, is quite important. A proper amount of sleep helps relax and recuperate the mind and body, with the rest helping to reduce some of the ill-effects of stress.

Practice mindfulness – “Being mindful and practicing mindfulness is also a great way to put stressors into perspective,” she says and doing so may help reduce the stress associated with that instance or situation.

Exercise – “Exercising helps keep the body fit and helps release endorphins that could potentially help mitigate some of the more physical and even mental effects of stress,” she says and even short periods of exercise can help reduce the tension in the muscles.

Maintain a strong social network – Having a strong network of support and care can also help when feeling stressed. It feels better to have people that can be trusted to help or listen when a problem arises, says Dr. Afridi.

Be grateful – “Being grateful for little things can help put a more positive focus on things,” explains Dr. Afridi. It can also help a person see the positives in a bad or stressful situation.

Cultivate a positive mind set – As with the previous point, having a positive mindset makes tackling stress easier than doing so with a pessimistic attitude.

Find ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your life – these include meditation, writing or playing an instrument and can provide momentary decreases in stress as well as help frame experiences more positively, leading to more opportunities for self-growth, exploration and discovery.

Serve – getting out of our own “problems” and “feelings” is one of the surest ways to increase joy. Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you.

Play and enjoy life- What makes you laugh? Helps you forget about “life” for a while? Those things are incredibly
important in living a life of joy.

Write a Joy List – take time out to write down a list of things that you love doing. Then when you feel yourself feeling down, you can consult your list and depending on how much time you can manage, put something that you love doing into the day.

Give to others – volunteer your time to a worthy cause that you believe in. When you can give to others and improve someone else’s life in some way, it will naturally make you feel good because you’ve had a positive impact on someone else’s life.

(Credit: www.experiencelife.com)


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