Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


1 Comment

5 Happiness Hacks That Take 5 Minutes Or Less

Feeling stressed or down? These science-backed tips will boost your mood quickly.

So often, the habits that experts recommend to increase happiness aren’t compatible with actual daily life. Who has time to sit down for an extended meditation session when you’re juggling 1,000 different things?

Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to boost your well-being throughout the day in just a few minutes. Here are five research-backed happiness “hacks” that take five minutes or less, but pay dividends all day long.

1. Tackle your hardest task.

Loretta Graziano Breuning, founder of Inner Mammal Institute and author of “Habits of a Happy Brain,” believes that humans can essentially rewire their brains. How so? By understanding that we have certain “happy chemicals” that were inherited from earlier mammals — and using that knowledge to develop habits that turn those chemicals on.

One of those chemicals is dopamine, which Breuning describes as “a sense of accomplishment,” and you can stimulate dopamine by going straight at your most difficult task of the day — ideally pretty early on. Have an email you’ve been putting off? A particularly challenging stretch of child care? A deadline you need to hit, or a difficult conversation you’ve been putting off? Tackle it first.

(If the task you’re taking on isn’t something you can complete in five minutes or less, break it into smaller chunks. Then start with one.)

Ultimately, the goal is to “focus on a specific target,” Breuning said, and to celebrate yourself when you’re done. It might feel counterintuitive to tackle a hard task when you’re looking for a feeling of happiness, but stimulating dopamine in your brain can help keep you humming along (and feeling proud of yourself!) all day long.

2. Take 10 deep breaths.

In a December study led by a team of researchers with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds, experts broke down the four pillars they believe are essential to cultivating mental well-being: awareness, connection, insight and purpose. All these sound pretty lofty, but the pillars can be broken down into small daily habits that, over time, train the brain.

When it comes to awareness, for example, one of the simplest exercises to try is just breathing. Close your eyes and focus on the act of taking 10 breaths, the researchers suggested. That’s it! (Or consider 4-7-8 breathing. Or roll breathing. Or any of the hundreds of other types of focused breathing. Just find one or two methods that feel good to you so you’ll actually stick to it.)

Ultimately, research really does show how powerful mindfulness meditation can help to lessen feelings of anxiety and stress both in the moment and in the longer term. But the good news is that you don’t need to spend a huge chunk of your day doing it.

3. Listen to a happy song. (Bonus points for dancing!)

When you’re exhausted or dragging, press play on an upbeat song. Research shows hearing happy music is on par with mindfulness meditation.

For example, in a 2016 study of older adults with Alzheimer’s, listening to music improved their sense of well-being and mood and lowered their feelings of stress. On the other end of the spectrum, studies have shown that singing to babies in the NICU helps to keep them “quietly alert” and reduced parental stress.

Bonus points for dancing or moving your body along with the music, which can help increase your energy levels even further while zapping stress.

4. For a few minutes, focus on the people who’ve got your back.

According to Breuning, another key “happy chemical” is oxytocin, which people tend to think of as the love hormone, though she thinks of it as more closely tied to feelings of trust. To stimulate oxytocin quickly, she recommended thinking about the people you trust. Ask yourself: “If I need support, who will be there?” Breuning said.

You might go ahead and connect with that person by sending them a quick text or giving them a call, (or if you’re together at home, giving them a quick hug). And those simple moments of social connection with someone you love and admire are a big-time happiness booster.

But just thinking about who is in your “herd” can be enough, Breuning said. It stimulates your brain’s oxytocin, which helps you feel safe and secure.

5. Do something kind for someone. (Or just think kind thoughts!)

Research shows that daily acts of kindness are a simple way to boost happiness and they don’t have to be big. What matters is that you’re deliberate about it.

“Intentionally set a goal to be kinder to others,” experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest . “Express sincerely felt kindness to a co-worker. Make a special effort to extend kind words to a neighbor. Hold the elevator for someone or take time to help a loved one.”

Experts also now understand that it can be equally powerful (at least from a happiness-boosting perspective) to simply spend some time cultivating a sense of kindness toward someone in your own head — whether or not that person even knows it.

The Center for Healthy Minds recommended thinking about things you admire about that person. Then “recall situations where they expressed these qualities and then imagine expressing your appreciation,” the group noted. “You can then extend this to people you don’t know very well and eventually even to people you find challenging.”

By spending some time sending happy thoughts someone else’s way, you’ll bring a bit of joy into your own life.

By Catherine Pearson   05/12/2021 

source: HuffPost Life


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

  • Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.

  • 1 out of every 100 people are psychopaths and they look just like everybody else.

 

  • Dancing often increases happiness.

  • A condition called “False Awakening” occurs when you’re dreaming that you’ve woken up, but still are in deep sleep.

~ Happy Friday!~


2 Comments

Dancing Can Reverse The Signs Of Aging In The Brain

As we grow older we suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness, which can be made worse by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. A new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.

“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity,” says Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany. “In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”

Elderly volunteers, with an average age of 68, were recruited to the study and assigned either an eighteen-month weekly course of learning dance routines, or endurance and flexibility training. Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain. This is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also plays a key role in memory and learning, as well as keeping one’s balance.

While previous research has shown that physical exercise can combat age-related brain decline, it is not known if one type of exercise can be better than another. To assess this, the exercise routines given to the volunteers differed. The traditional fitness training program conducted mainly repetitive exercises, such as cycling or Nordic walking, but the dance group were challenged with something new each week.

Dr Rehfeld explains, “We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.”

These extra challenges are thought to account for the noticeable difference in balance displayed by those participants in dancing group. Dr Rehfeld and her colleagues are building on this research to trial new fitness programs that have the potential of maximizing anti-aging effects on the brain.

“Right now, we are evaluating a new system called “Jymmin” (jamming and gymnastic). This is a sensor-based system which generates sounds (melodies, rhythm) based on physical activity. We know that dementia patients react strongly when listening to music. We want to combine the promising aspects of physical activity and active music making in a feasibility study with dementia patients.”

Dr Rehfeld concludes with advice that could get us up out of our seats and dancing to our favorite beat.

“I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible. Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this, counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline. I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”

This study falls into a broader collection of research investigating the cognitive and neural effects of physical and cognitive activity across the lifespan.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Frontiers. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Kathrin Rehfeld, Patrick Müller, Norman Aye, Marlen Schmicker, Milos Dordevic, Jörn Kaufmann, Anita Hökelmann, Notger G. Müller. Dancing or Fitness Sport? The Effects of Two Training Programs on Hippocampal Plasticity and Balance Abilities in Healthy Seniors. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00305

Source:     Frontiers     www.sciencedaily.com


1 Comment

Fun Fact Friday

    • Neurologists claim that every time you resist acting on your anger, you’re actually rewiring your brain to be calmer and more loving.
    • Sleeping on the job is acceptable in Japan, as it’s viewed as exhaustion from working hard.
    • Thinking burns calories.
    • Cuddling triggers the same neurological reaction as taking painkillers.
    • Cotton Candy was invented by a dentist.
    • The brain treats rejection like physical pain, according to scientists.

 

anger
  • Dancing has been proven to build confidence and release stress.
  • 1.6 billion people – a quarter of humanity, live without electricity.
  • A banana is actually a berry and a strawberry isn’t.
  • Age is just a number, maturity is a choice.
  • 11% of the world is left-handed.
  • Regular sex enhances mental performance and increases the production of new neurons in the brain, according to researchers.
    Happy Friday  🙂
    source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


Leave a comment

Anatomy Of A Dance Hit: Why We Love To Boogie With Pharrell

by Michaeleen Doucleff    May 30, 2014

There’s no doubt Pharrell’s “Happy” is the biggest hit of the year so far. It spent 15 weeks at the top of the Billboard 100 and inspired hundreds of fan videos on YouTube.

Just a few weeks ago, six Iranian teenagers for posting a video of themselves dancing to the catchy song.

So what is it about “” that triggers a nearly uncontrollable need to tap your foot, bob your head or move to the rhythm in some way?

It may be more about what’s missing from the song than what’s there.

Last month neuroscientists at Aarhus University in Denmark a study showing that danceable grooves have just the right amount of gaps or breaks in the beats. Your brain wants to fill in those gaps with body movement, says the study’s lead author, .

“Gaps in the rhythmic structure, gaps in the sort of underlying beat of the music — that sort of provides us with an opportunity to physically inhabit those gaps and fill in those gaps with our own bodies,” she says.

A few years ago, Witek set out to figure out which songs got people onto the dance floor.

She created an online survey and gave people drum patterns to listen to. Some had really simple rhythms with regular beats. Others had extremely complex rhythms, with lots of gaps where you’d expect beats to be. Finally there were drumming patterns that fell in the middle of those two extremes. They have a regular, predictable beat, but also some pauses or gaps.

Witek says that people all over the world agreed on which drum patterns made them most want to dance: “Not the ones that have very little complexity and not the ones that had very, very high complexity,” she says, “but the patterns that had a sort of a balance between predictability and complexity.”

dancing

These rhythms offer enough regularity so that we can perceive the underlying beat, Witek and her team reported in the journal PLOS ONE. But they also need enough gaps or breaks to invite participants to synchronize to the music.

So which popular songs on the radio today have this optimal amount of complexity?

“I think the recent single by Pharrell, ‘Happy,’ is a very good example,” Witek says.

The song is layered with predictable beats and complex, syncopated ones. The drums, the piano, the clapping and even Pharrell’s voice create inviting gaps, she says.

But Pharrell isn’t the only one who knows about this trick. Classic dance tunes in disco, funk, hip-hop and rhythm and blues also hit this sweet spot of , Witek says.

“Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder — those guys have a lot of tracks which seem to have this balance between predictability and complexity when it comes to the rhythmic structure,” she says.

And don’t forget about Ray Charles. His 1950s hit “” made everybody want to hit the dance floor.

But it’s not just a song’s syncopation that gets you to go from tapping your foot in your chair to standing up and full-out dancing. It’s also the song’s layers of rhythm, says neuroscientist at McGill University.

“In ‘I’ve Got a Woman,’ the drums are keeping a very steady rhythm. The piano is syncopated and the vocals are exquisitely nuanced in time,” Levitin says. “It’s very difficult to sing along with him [Ray Charles] exactly the way he does it.”

So we don’t sing with Charles. Instead we want to move with him.

“The more rhythmically complex the music is … the easier it is to engage different body parts,” Levitin says, “because they can be synchronizing with different aspects of the music.”

So you’re swinging your shoulders with the snare drums. You’re bobbing your head with the piano. “And you might be wiggling your hips in half-time or something like that,” he says.

Before you know it, you’re up out of your chair and doing the twist.

source: www.npr.org