24 easy habits that psychologists have linked with health and happiness

24 easy habits that psychologists have linked with health and happiness

via Business Insider by Erin Brodwin

Want to be happier? Try working some easy habits into your routine.

  • There science-linked ways to be happier and healthier. And they’re not so hard to do.
  • Jotting down your feelings and star gazing are easy ways to lift your spirits. Here are 22 other easy ways to boost your mood that psychologists and social scientists swear by.

We all strive to be happy and healthy.

There are a number of small things you can do that will make a big impact on your overall well-being, according to psychologists.

That might be reading an adventure story, keeping a gratitude journal or even gazing up at the stars on a clear night.

But happiness is something we all have to continuously work at.

Here are some of the things that psychologists and social science researchers have found that have the power to lift your spirits and keep them high.

Write down 3 things you’re grateful for.

Keeping tabs on the things you feel lucky to have in your life is a great way to boost your mood.

In a recent study from psychologists at UC Davis, researchers had 3 groups of volunteers keep weekly journals focused on a single topic. While one group wrote about major events that had happened that week, the second group wrote about hassles they’d experienced, and the last group wrote about things they were grateful for.

Ten weeks later, those in the gratitude-journal group reported feeling more optimistic and more satisfied with their lives than those in any of the other groups and reported fewer physical symptoms of discomfort, from runny noses to headaches.

Go on a hike or gaze up at the stars on a clear night.

Awe is a powerful – even awesome, you might say – human emotion. And a handful of recent studies have found a link between experiencing a sense of awe – that feeling you get when you look up at a starry sky or out across a wide open valley – with feeling less stressed and more satisfied.

People who’ve recently had an awe-inspiring experience are also more likely to say they feel more curious about the world around them and to act more generously toward others.

Drink coffee (not too much, though).

They don’t call it “Central Perk” for nothing. As a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine doesn’t just boost alertness, it can also improve your mood.

Several studies have even found a connection between caffeine consumption and a reduced depression risk, as well as an even a lower risk of suicide. However, at least one of these studies specifically found this connection with caffeinated coffee but not tea, though others found the same effect for tea as well.


You don’t have to be Don Draper to reap the benefits of some peace and quiet.

Multiple studies suggest that meditating – focusing intently and quietly on the present for set periods of time – can help lessen feelings of depression and anxiety. Research in long term meditators – Buddhist monks, for example – shows that these peoples’ brains have well-developed areas that could be linked to heightened awareness and emotional control. While it’s possible that people with such brains might be more likely to meditate in the first place, other studies do show that people who complete a meditation program tend to show brain changes linked with self-awareness, perspective, and memory.

Read an adventure story.

You may be able to get the benefits of an awe-inspiring experience just by reading about someone else’s. A small 2012 study found that even when people simply read about someone else’s awe-inspiring experience, they were more satisfied, less stressed, and more willing to volunteer their time to help others compared with people who were simply shown something that made them feel happy.

Get outside.

Stressed out? Head for a forest.One study found that a group of students sent into the trees for two nights had lower levels of cortisol – a hormone often used as a marker for stress – than those who spent the same two nights in a city.

In another study, researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and cortisol levels in people in the forest when compared to those in urban areas. “Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy,” the researchers wrote in their paper…

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