The pursuit of happiness

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Winter is coming… the days are getting darker, the temperatures are dropping, and sometimes it seems as if the rain will never stop. Not to mention the coursework assignments that are slowly piling up, the lecture readings you’re probably behind on and, for some, the fast-approaching job or internship application deadlines. With all this going on, it’s often a little difficult to feel optimistic. Here are a couple of simple tips to improve those moods and lift those spirits:

Get some sunlight.

Don’t let those rare, precious hours of sunlight go to waste! Spending just ten minutes in the sunlight every day drastically increases the levels of serotonin in your brain. A natural antidepressant, you’ll lower your chances of getting Seasonal Affective Disorder, feel more energetic, and also be able to concentrate much longer.

Smile at yourself in the mirror.

Self-confidence and happiness are closely linked. How often have you woken up in the morning, seen your face in the mirror, and thought nothing but negative things? Scientists at The University of Cardiff found that feeling good doesn’t just start in our brains – when you smile, not only do you immediately look better, but your brain is tricked into thinking you’re happy. So channel positive energy by starting your day with a smile!

Exercise.

Yes, getting out of bed and heading all the way to the gym seems like a lot of effort. But even doing moderate exercise regularly will increase antibody production, lower cortisol levels, and release endorphins. So you’re less likely to get ill, won’t be as stressed and, unsurprisingly, you’ll feel happier. You’ll look better and live longer too.

Hug someone.

This foolproof way to happiness lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety. Just make sure it’s someone you know and trust, otherwise you’ll achieve the opposite result.

Sleep more.

Aim to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Studies have shown that the more you sleep, the less active genes associated with inflammation and stress become, and the more likely you are to remember things from the day before. So go to bed just a little earlier and wake up feeling that much more invigorated and positive.

Finish things.

Stop procrastinating. Get something done now and enjoy the surge of optimism that comes with completing a task successfully. The more often you do it, the happier you’ll feel. And remember: the secret to getting ahead is getting started.

Drink water.

Feeling sluggish? Having migraines? Even the slightest bit of dehydration impacts both physical and mental performance in a negative way. By paying attention and drinking the recommended two litres of water a day, you’ll not only feel more alert but also happier.

Eat fresh.

Put down that bag of crisps and pick up an orange instead. High in Vitamin C, eating an orange lowers both stress levels and blood pressure. Bananas are high in magnesium and potassium, which have been found to reduce anxiety and improve nerve function. Foods high in folic acid like spinach are also perfect for alleviating lethargy and improving your mood.