When you think about happiness do you think about your health? Is the first thought how you feel after a great workout? Or what about how you feel after a great nutritious meal? Maybe you feel happy after a great night’s sleep? Likely not.
The science behind happiness says that happy people seem to live longer, they exhibit less stress and mental health concerns and perform better at work. These are also all characteristics of people who exercise. However there are also studies that show that if you put too much pressure on yourself to be happy, you can actually create negative emotions that lead to feeling lonely. Again this is the same with exercise and the pressure to look a certain way. So how do you actually navigate this fine line?
Gabriella Farkas PH.D says the following are the physical benefits that start to happen when you start to feel happy: Facial muscles relax, Heart Rate decreases, Breathing slows and deepens, endorphins and serotonin are released, digestion improves.
As someone who has been in the fitness industry for 16 years, I have spent a lot of time talking to people about fitness and how to fit exercise into their lives. Most people have goals very closely tied to their physical appearance. I have started to shift my beliefs in terms of what goals we should actually be setting for ourselves when it comes to fitness. The outcome MAY still be a better physique, however the PROCESS of holistic wellness is so much more important and what everyone should be aiming for. If you still have an extra 20 lbs on your body, but you live longer, live pain free and live with a better overall state of being would you be okay with that?
I was inspired this week to write about 7 things that can increase your feelings of holistic happiness. As we get closer to a time of year where New Years Resolutions are front of mind I challenge you to set goals that focus on the process and not the outcome! Good Luck!
Holistic Wellness for Happiness:
Think about food as fuel to the body. Food is something that too many people have a love- hate relationship with. There is a lot of guilt associated with food today and you do not deserve that. If you google nutrition you will find millions of hits. What is right? What is wrong? That depends on you and who you talk to. What is consistent? Be mindful of what you are putting into your body. Realize that higher quality food fuels you differently than low quality. Just like gas in your car… the higher the quality the better the car runs, even though it may not seem obvious at the time. Eat slowly and while you are focused on eating. When you slow down eating you give your mind more time to realize you are “full” (this takes 20 minutes for most people). Distracted eaters tend to over eat- sometimes upwards of an additional 50%! These 3 small steps could make a big change in how you feel and are 100% achievable.
The body needs to sleep to perform at its best. When you are sleeping it repairs its cells. A full night’s sleep can decrease your heart rate, decrease your stress levels and increase your energy. Here are some simple tips to help increase your nightly sleep. First, create a bed time routine, something that allows your brain time to decompress and settle down and be ready for sleep. Second, don’t use any devices for 60 minutes before bed, this helps to set the mind for rest and not increase stresses too close to bed. Lastly, avoid TV while in bed, we have all been sucked into a good streaming marathon… and regretted it the next day!
Find a way to move the body every day! Copenhagen is noted as one of the happiest places in the world. More than half of the people who live there walk or ride a bike to work each day. There are 5 times as many bicycles then cars. Don’t overthink it. Just move more. Park farther away, take the stairs, walk for 3 mins every hour, find some form of movement that brings you pleasure- dance, stretch, run, lift weights, do jumping jacks. There is no wrong movement. Don’t judge others movements and don’t compare yours to others… keep it simple and just move.
Being grateful allows you to take control of your mental health. It eliminates negative emotions and helps you to avoid the negative emotions that are all around us. In today’s world of social media, guilt, jealousy, resentment, regret etc are negatives thrown at us so often. Taking control of your thoughts and taking time to see all the good in your life helps you to keep things in perspective and take more ownership over your happiness.
Meditation can help bring focus to your life. It also decreases your resting heart rate, brings clarity and purpose, and helps you take a few moments of calm in a very busy world. Taking even 5 minutes a day to care for your soul can help you succeed in all other aspects of your life. I actually tie my meditation time and grateful time together each morning as part of my morning routine. It sets a nice tone for the day!
Take time for personal relationships
The more people you have around you, science says the happier you will be. We need to be connected to people emotionally. It is a fundamental need that we all seek; true, deep relationships. The secondary benefit of relationships is that science shows that if you are helping others you feel more feelings of joy. You are more likely to do this when you have more people around you. This is also why exercising in a group is actually one of the most successful ways to commit to exercise. You get the social aspect of relationships and the encouragement of those around you while you also encourage others. So workout with friends for a double dose of happy!
Be okay when you are not okay
Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes you are not happy. Don’t pressure yourself into thinking that every day and every situation is going to go perfectly. That is not realistic. Be okay with some days being tough. Be okay with not always feeling 100%. One day does not need to become a pattern of a lot of days. It just means you had a bad day. We should never expect 100% of anything. That is not a realistic view. So don’t expect yourself to feel perfect either!
I wish you the greatest level of health and happiness for 2018, take a few of these simple steps and get closer to being your best self.