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10 Ways to Increase Your Happiness Every Day

Do you start your day feeling happy and positive about life? Scientific research is showing us that positive thoughts and emotional states have a profound effect on our health and how we perceive, think, feel and perform. We all know that positive emotions feel good – and it’s no wonder since they actually help all of our body’s systems to synchronize and work better.

So how can you cultivate more positive emotions and happiness in your life? Happiness is actually a state of being. It’s an overall sense of well-being, joy or contentment. This kind of true happiness flows through your entire being. It brightens your life. It’s the inner glow that fills your soul, that brings color and light to all your experiences.

Here are ten ways to increase your overall sense of happiness every day:

Choose Happiness. If you don’t like the way you feel you can always choose a better feeling thought or a better response to a situation. Decide how you most want to feel and consciously cultivate those feelings within yourself during your day.

Practice Gratitude. Take time to notice and reflect on things you are grateful for every day. Appreciate even the simple things. The regular practice of gratitude includes such benefits as strengthening the immune system, increasing positive emotions, and helping you feel more alive.

Share a Smile or a Hug. Research has shown that our facial expressions can influence our mood. Even smiling for a brief time can make you feel happy. Hugs balance out the nervous system and stimulate release of the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin. Hugging for an extended time also lifts your serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. Share a smile and perform small acts of kindness and see how good you feel when you help others.

Replace Worry with Positive Expectation. Anticipate that good things will happen. Imagine the best case scenario that you could experience. Positive expectations can lead to a more positive life. Expect more things to be grateful for and you will attract more things to be grateful for.

Empower Yourself. Keep your thoughts and words positive and uplifting. Write out positive affirmations about yourself and your life. Meditate on your favorite scriptures or inspirational quotes. You can put up post-it notes or write out your quotes on index cards to keep with you. Ask yourself empowering questions. Instead of asking, “Why am I so tired?” ask “Why am I so happy and full of energy?” This will immediately change what your brain focuses on. When you change the question, you change your results. It changes your perspective which will change your actions which will change your life.

Try New Things. Break out of your routine. Start a new hobby, walk down a new street, try that new breakfast café. Plan that weekend getaway to renew and refresh.

Have Things to Look Forward to. Make future plans for things you will enjoy and savor the anticipation. One of the keys to happiness is having something to look forward to. Don’t forget to plan for small pleasures in your day-to-day life. Plan the massage, trying out that new restaurant with a friend or taking that bike ride in the park.

Take a Deep Breath. Deep abdominal breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which guides our body from stress to relaxation. By training yourself to breathe slowly and deeply in a mindful state on a regular basis, you will notice a shift in your energy level, your mental clarity and overall well-being.

Strengthen Your Relationships. Many research studies have shown that satisfying relationships are associated with better health, greater happiness and even a longer life. This effect is not limited to romantic relationships. Close friendships and social connections with family and the community can also help your health and happiness.

Care for Your Body. Nourish yourself with whole foods, water and sufficient sleep. Be sure to include plenty of physical activity and exercise. Exercise has been shown to increase happiness in many ways. Exercise helps to clear your mind, reduce stress and increases the release of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger positive feelings and can be accompanied by a more energizing outlook on life.

Do something nice for yourself today. The true key to happiness is in doing your best to create joy in as many moments as you can.

Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, M.D., Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine. Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.

 

Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462. Phone: (561) 432-8935

Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Five Daily Habits for a Healthy Heart

Take care of your heart.  Your heart affects every part of your body.  Your heart does the most physical work of any muscle during your lifetime.  It beats about 100,000 times a day, and with this faithful steady beat you have the gift of life. You control your heart health through your diet, lifestyle, and managing your stress.  Your emotional and physical well-being are both important for maintaining a healthy heart.

Start today to develop some daily heart-healthy habits to protect this vital organ.  Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you take each day. What we repeatedly do and focus on forms the person that we are.  The sum of your daily habits ultimately forms the current status of your emotional and physical health.

Find 30 minutes a day to exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week.  For people who would benefit from lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol, they recommend 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week.

You can break this out into 15 minute intervals twice per day. On days you can’t make the 30-minute time goal start with at least ten or fifteen minutes. Don’t let the “all or nothing” goal stop you from making health gains today. Just start walking. Every step you take you are on your way to better health. You can build up to a 30-minute brisk power walk. Find a sport, fitness class or activity that you enjoy. Consider activities such as swimming, bicycling, tennis or dancing. When you get your body moving and your blood pumping your heart will benefit. And don’t forget to include strength training twice per week. Lifting weights and using whole body movements will raise your heart rate, strengthen your muscles and help manage stress.

Enjoy colorful, wholesome foods. Choose nutrient-rich foods every day that will benefit your heart and your health. Eat a variety of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables at each meal and snack.   Choose fiber-rich whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Include lean protein and healthy oils such as olive oil and flaxseed oil. Don’t forget to include fish at least once a week and fresh herbs and spices daily.  Focus on what you should eat. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on all the healthy choices and you will be too full to eat junk food.

Make sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep.  The better night’s sleep you get the healthier your heart will be. Several recent studies show links between shortened sleep duration, defined as less than six hours of sleep, and increased risk of heart disease.  The key to making sure you have time for quality sleep is to schedule it. Keep a consistent schedule for the time that you sleep and awake each day. Make this a habit and it will become part of your daily routine. Support this schedule by creating a bedtime routine that helps you relax with hot baths, journaling, soothing music or good books.

Practice deep breathing at least 15 minutes.  Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. Increased heart rate, fast breathing and high blood pressure, which all happen when you are stressed; all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.  Your brain receives the message to calm down and relax and sends this message to your body.  Breathe long, slow and deep in a mindful-state as often as possible.  As a powerful daily practice, deep breathing will advance your health and well-being.

Cultivate gratitude and acknowledge the good things in life. Some research suggests that by cultivating gratitude we cultivate well-being.  The simple act of writing down what you are grateful for can increase well-being and gratitude.  Taking time to meditate with appreciation and praying more often has been found to help people be more grateful.  Simply ask yourself each day, “What am I grateful for?”  This question will open up a wider outlook on life and can bring awareness and appreciation to the positive aspects within you and around you. A grateful heart is a healthier heart.

If you desire better or lasting health, it all starts with better habits. When you learn to transform your habits you can transform your life.

4 Simple Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Brain

A healthy brain is critical to an amazing life.  Brain health is central to our happiness and success in every area of our life.  To fully enjoy our days, filled with energy, vitality, focus and joy, we must nurture our mind and body.

Eat Well

Our brain requires a lot of energy to stay healthy and function properly.  When eating a nutritious diet, you will find that your focus, memory and mood will improve. To boost your brain, it is important to consume a nutrient-rich diet filled with high-fiber whole foods and colorful fruits and vegetables.  Healthy fats and lean protein are important for your brain health.  Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and walnuts.  Be sure to avoid trans fats at all costs. High levels of trans fats adversely affect brain health, and have a negative impact on mood and memory.  Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortening, margarine and many processed and packaged foods contain trans fats.

Water is essential for your brain as well, since about 80 percent of our brain is water.  To make sure that you are drinking enough pure water, aim for half your body weight in ounces every day.  It is important to eliminate refined sugar from your diet.  Many studies have shown that excess sugar is detrimental to brain health.  It is also important to eliminate toxins and additives (often found in processed foods) for your brain to function optimally.

Keep Moving

Research is showing that exercise is just as good for the brain as it is for the body.  Brain benefits of exercise include improving brain structure, cognition, and mood.  Regular exercise keeps blood vessels open, delivers oxygen to the brain and increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – which helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration and induces the growth of new brain cells and neurons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, or five 30-minute workouts every week. Incorporate strength training, aerobics, and burst training (this workout includes several surges of intense activity lasting 30 to 60 seconds, each followed by a few minutes of lower-intensity exertion for recovery).  We all have 24 hours in every day.  By committing to at least one-half hour of daily exercise, you will be improving your quality of life and increasing your healthy life span.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress increases the stress hormone cortisol and affects many brain functions. Some brain-related stress symptoms that you experience may include brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, worry, and intensified emotions.  Start some daily habits to improve your mood and break the worry cycle.  How do you view life? This life is as beautiful or as stressful as you make it.  Make time to do something you love that brings you joy.  And don’t complain – it trains your brain to see the negative far too often.  Start every day with a positive intention.  Let your brain find ways to make this a great day. Make sure to focus on the positive aspects of life. Your brain can’t find solutions when it is entwined in the negative spiral of the problem.  Breathe deeply and slowly, and imagine reliving one of your happiest experiences so that you connect with that joyful emotion.  Take several long, slow, deep breaths in a mindful-state as often as possible.  As a powerful daily practice, deep breathing will enhance your health and well-being.

Make sleep a priority

Get plenty of sleep.  The brain works to consolidate memories, and repair and regenerate itself while you sleep.  Without healthy sleep, toxins and waste products build up in your brain and it doesn’t have time to cleanse itself.  This can result in brain fog, memory problems and lack of vitality and focus.  Researchers suggest that we achieve seven to eight hours of sleep a night.  Getting less than seven hours of sleep per night is associated with a greater risk of chronic diseases and depression.  Make sleep a priority, and don’t feel like you are giving up precious time by committing to seven or eight hours of shut-eye.  Your increased focus and productivity during your wake-hours will make up for this time commitment. Develop the habit of going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning.

Incorporate these healthy lifestyle habits to protect the health of your brain. Your brain health impacts everything you do, and every thought, word, action, behavior and feeling. Take care of your brain and it will take care of you.

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-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Are you ready to start your wellness journey but are unsure of where to begin? As your health coach, I can help you create a personalized roadmap to your goals. Reach out today to see if our Lifestyle Coaching Program can help you create the foundation needed to achieve lasting health and happiness.

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, M.D., Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.

Dr. Geni Abraham, M.D., Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone:  (561) 432-8935

Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook @DrGeniAbraham