We Tested Common Happiness Advice. Here’s What Actually Worked

We Tested Common Happiness Advice. Here’s What Actually Worked

via the Huffington Post by Lindsay Holmes

For years, experts have been recommending the same healthy lifestyle habits to reduce stress and improve your mood. (In fact, we published a list of them recently.) The advice stands the test of time for a good reason: Studies show they work over and over again.

But we live in 2020, when our lives are directed by our phones, busy schedules, the news cycle and more. We’re so burned out at work that it’s become an official medical diagnosis. The pressure to have it all, and to balance it once you do, is immense.

All of this makes some of the most common happiness tips ― like meditating or setting aside 10 minutes of your day to go for a walk ― feel kind of… impossible?

So, we decided to sort through a few of the suggestions and give you a list of which happiness habits are worth trying and which were a bit more difficult. Several people in the HuffPost newsroom volunteered to practice one habit for a month.

Here’s how it went:

What Definitely Worked

Getting outdoors can really boost your mood.
Getting outdoors can really boost your mood.

Doing a quick daily meditation.

Research shows meditation can alleviate stress and increase your overall mood. One of our editorial directors committed to the practice this month by using the Headspace app and doing a three- to five-minute meditation each day. His conclusion? “I was surprised at how much it helped me.”

“The more I did it, the better I felt ― and not just when I was meditating,” he said. “By spending a little time each day trying to quiet ― or just slow down ― my mind, I began to try it when I wasn’t meditating. Like, if something was driving me crazy at work or I had a frustratingly slow commute, I’d stop, take a second, do some deep breathing and I was shocked at how much better I instantly felt.”

Walking outside for 10 minutes a day.

Studies show that getting outside and around greenery, even if only briefly, can make you happier. But we often stay chained to our desks or get lost in our weekend tasks instead of taking a real break. A senior culture reporter on our team decided to take on the challenge of spending time outside as a way to give his mind a reprieve.

“Being a New York resident working in digital media, I’m aware I spend far too much of my time indoors ― my doctor tells me I have a Vitamin D deficiency, even ― and am completely reliant on screens,” he said.

But the habit worked ― and even provided an added benefit.

“To my surprise, I felt the biggest shift in management of my weekend time, and found my productivity went up substantially,” he said. “Given the mild weather we’ve experienced in the Northeast thus far this winter, I found it easy to [extend] my 10-minute outdoor commitments beyond that time frame. Often, I’d feel compelled to talk a longer walk, visit a new neighborhood or run a much-overdue errand.”

Practicing grounding exercises.

Similar to meditation, grounding exercises make you more mindful in the moment and help quell anxiety during stressful times. Experts recommend engaging your senses: Pick five things you see, four things you can physically feel, three different sounds you hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.

A senior audience editor tried practicing this exercise over the past month. He squeezed it in whenever he had a few moments waiting in line or commuting.

“The few times I did it on the subway was quite calming — I found myself noticing little things like conversations going on between old friends or couples in my car, the slight noise bleed from a podcast someone is listening to, even the clickety-clack of the wheel on the track,” he said. “It made me feel more connected to the city and reminded me to pay attention to things around me a bit more.”

The main problem he found was that a few minutes didn’t feel like enough, and that longer meditation sessions might be more useful. Still, not bad for a quick trick…

… keep reading the full & original article (because there’s MUCH MORE to this) HERE