How To Make Myself Happier

Q: How can I make myself happier in the new year?

A: People can make plans to become happier and mentally healthier and can be very successful in doing so. Here are some resolutions people can utilize to improve their mental health and quality of life.

º Make a plan to be happy. Wake up and say “today will be a good day.”

º Practice gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for. “I woke up this morning.” “The sun is shining.” “I was able to eat breakfast this morning.” “I love and am loved.” By practicing being grateful, we teach our minds to think more positively automatically, which makes us more resilient, less likely to experience depression, and generally happier.

º Notice the beauty around you. The stresses of daily life can lead us to habitually become preoccupied with all the “have to” and “what if” thoughts. Take a break! Engage in the world around you and notice the beautiful things — the clouds in the sky, the laughter of the toddler in the next aisle, the sight and silence of fresh snow. We only benefit from beauty if we decide to notice it.

º Be mindful. Put your full attention into what you are doing at each moment. With full mind and attention, taste your morning coffee, sip by sip. Smell the morning air, listen to the cackles of the crows, and feel your presence in the moment. In practicing mindfulness, not only do you reconnect to the world around you, you learn to disconnect from the noise of your mind.

º Disconnect from technology. Instead of texting your best friend, call them. Make a coffee or dinner date once a week. Limit time on social media and set times to “unplug” completely. Give yourself a break from technology, and discover what you might be missing.

º Act as if you are happy. Fake it until you make it! Walk with your head held high. Smile. Laugh. Our brains can be tricked into thinking we feel confident or happy, by physically acting as if we are. Act how you want to feel.

This time of year, seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is affecting an estimated 10 million Americans. Seasonal affective disorder causes individuals to feel lethargic, irritable, have increased appetite, and to oversleep. It is quite normal to experience “bad days,” but if these symptoms continue or if you feel unable to experience happiness or function effectively in your daily life, you can take action to get help.

Talk therapy, or psychotherapy can be effective in treating SAD, as well as pharmacological treatment with a psychiatrist or advance nurse practitioner, and light therapy lights.

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