Take Charge of Your Own Happiness
Mental and emotional health in our patients is particularly important to naturopathic doctors because we strive to support and treat the whole person. Scientific evidence increasingly shows that establishing an outlook of gratitude, optimism, and joy can have a positive impact on the immune system, relieve depression, improve work performance, increase physical activity, strengthen relationships, and greatly increase a person’s quality of life.
What is Positive Psychology?
Positive psychology highlights life’s positive elements, like compassion, gratitude, happiness, love, and resilience. Its purpose is to “measure, understand, and then build human strengths and civic virtues, including hope, wisdom, creativity, courage, spirituality, responsibility, perseverance, and satisfaction.” Rather than ignoring or denying negative experiences, positive psychology seeks to reframe a person’s perspective or outlook regarding those experiences.
Common conditions like anxiety, depression, pain, stress, and burnout can all benefit from this holistic approach with a focus on the mind/body connection. People who can take charge of their outlook on life events are able to impact their overall well-being. By practicing self-care, mindfulness, and daily gratitude, you, too can take charge of your happiness.
Begin by asking some self-care questions:
- Do you spend time with people who love, encourage, and appreciate you?
- Are you polite to yourself?
- Do you face your problems head-on?
- Do you make your own needs and happiness a priority?
- How do you talk to yourself?
- How to keep well and stay healthy? Do you eat healthy foods? Do you exercise? Are you hydrated? Do you get enough sleep?
- What fills your cup? Do you dance or sing? Do you journal? Do you cook delicious food? Do you call a friend? Or perhaps you go for a walk?
- What does stress look like for you? Stomach pain? Stress-eating? Tight shoulders/back?
Mindfulness is a learned tool of non-judgmental self-awareness, self-care, and empowerment. It is a passive awareness of your present experience that can be done anytime and anywhere. When we learn to be present and in tune with our bodies through mindfulness, we can identify and correct imbalances before they turn into bigger issues. We can proactively center and ground ourselves, find balance in our lives and in our work, and boost our resiliency.
Here are some ways to practice mindfulness on a daily basis:
- Do a body scan, paying attention to any areas of tension, discomfort, or pain in your body. This can be done before bed in either a sitting or lying down position. As you scan, try thanking each part of your body for serving you in its own way.
- Give yourself a nature break. Rather than reaching for your phone, take five minutes to go outside, stand barefoot in the grass, and look up at the trees or the sky. Notice how the air feels on your skin, and the grass under your feet.
- Take two minutes to breathe mindfully. Fill your lungs with fresh air. Feel it moving in through your nose, and then out. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deliberately for a couple of minutes.
- Close your eyes and pay attention to how the air feels on your exposed skin. Do you feel warm? Cold? Is there a breeze? Are you sweating? When you do this exercise, you are practicing a non-judgmental, experiential processing mode.
- For the first two bites of any meal or snack you eat during the day, close your eyes and experience the scent, texture, temperature, and flavor of the food. Listen to the sound it makes as you eat. Enjoy the sensory experience of eating. This exercise is also good for identifying emotional eating or recognizing when you are eating in a rush, or on the go.
Gratitude helps people deal with difficult circumstances and generally feel more positive emotions. Deliberate practice of daily gratitude results in higher alertness, attentiveness, energy, enthusiasm, and optimism.
Here are some quick ideas for increasing feelings of gratitude in your life:
- Practice daily gratitude journaling by writing down 3 things each morning or evening for which you are grateful.
- Think about someone in your life who has inspired you or impacted you in a positive way. You could call them, visit them, or write them a letter to convey your gratitude for their positive effect on your life.
- Random acts of kindness can boost your mood anytime, anywhere!
Keep in mind that your attitude toward life will absolutely affect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, whether your attitude and view of life is predominantly positive or negative, it can certainly contribute to the quality of your health and happiness. Join us, your naturopathic doctors, in celebrating the joyful qualities of life! Your wellness depends on it!
Build Health. Live Well.