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How Can I Feel Happier?

By Eric Dean, JD, MBA, MA, MA, LPC, CADC

Americans are unhappier now than they have ever been in the last 50 years.

Let that sink in for a moment.

This is paradoxical in that over the past 50 years there has been a substantial increase in inflation-adjusted per capita income, an improved standard of living, and a proliferation of digital technologies that have given us unprecedented levels of convenience and connectedness. Perhaps, one could reasonably argue that American unhappiness is a consequence of technological advancement, rather than independent of it. So, in this post I am going to review 4 ways to feel better that do not require technology.

Here are 4 Ways That Do Not Require Technology

Please note that I am not a medical doctor and the information contained herein is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice from your healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any dietary changes.

  1.       Supplementation.

There are many nutritional supplements which have been shown to have anti-depressant effects when taken in the appropriate amount. Keep in mind that supplements are not required to undergo an FDA-approval process, so it is important to speak with your healthcare provider, do your research, and be discerning about which brands you purchase.

Here is a small sample:

Zinc – A mineral believed to improve immunity and boost mood.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Typically found in fish or seafood, they are believed to reduce inflammation, improve concentration, and increase feelings of well-being. Our body does not produce them naturally, so we need to get them from external sources.

Magnesium – A mineral believed to regulate blood pressure and the body’s stress response. Low levels of magnesium are linked with higher levels of depression.

Ashwagandha – An Indian spice good for the nervous systems that boosts focus and improves mood.

  1.       Positive Relationships.

Studies have demonstrated that quality relationships are the key to sustainable happiness. If you are unhappy, assess your support network and identify positive people in your life that you enjoy being around. Additionally, identify people in your network who tend to bring you down, and then eliminate or minimize time spent with them. Life is too short to be brought down by others. We want to allocate our time to relationships that are uplifting and supportive.

  1.       Identify One Way You Have Made Someone Else’s Life Better in the Past 30 Days.

We feel better when we are needed and have purpose. Identifying and writing down a recent time when we had a positive impact on someone around us shifts our attention from our own unhappiness to the positive effects our kindness and generosity. Service to others is also service to us.

  1.       Protect Your Brain’s Reward Center

The section of our brain involved with motivation and reward is called the Nucleus Accumbens (NAc), which is home to dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure seeking. When we are stimulated, dopamine is released, and we feel pleasure. When we are constantly overstimulated, the NAc wears out and then we are unable to feel pleasure in smaller activities. In other words, long periods of overstimulation reduce our sensitivity to reward and consequently decrease happiness. Drug/alcohol abuse and constant technology use are two examples of behaviors that can be overstimulating because they flood the NAc with dopamine, rather than gradually trigger the release of it.

Here are some tips to avoid wearing out your NAc and feeling better:

  •       Limit the use of stimulating technologies and mind-altering chemicals
  •       Supplement with magnesium
  •       Consume prebiotics and probiotics
  •       Meditate
  •       Drink green-tea
  •       Eat pumpkin seeds

Wrapping Up

Small behavioral changes and increased awareness can go a long way to feeling happier. Remember, you are not alone. A Symmetry therapist in Chicago will be with you every step of the way.

So, let’s get started – call Symmetry Counseling today at 312-578-9990.

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