Five Research-Backed Ways to Feel Happier—Fast by Camille Pagán

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[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Camille Pagán guest post on the site today. Take it away Camille!]

Ever have one of those days? Me too—yesterday, in fact. I had a work deadline to meet, but my son was home sick, which meant I had to juggle snuggles and soothing with an overflowing inbox and a conference call that couldn’t be rescheduled. It didn’t help that my fridge was a wasteland, and a tricky relative decided to text me to point out everything that was wrong with something I’d posted on social media. Ugh.

But after a few minutes of panic, followed by a brief moment of wallowing, I tapped into some of the tips I’d picked up working as a health journalist—and was able to turn my day around. The next time you’re feeling lousy, try these tricks.

Talk to an upper.

You know—the friend who has a clever way of helping you spot the silver lining in a hurricane, or the colleague makes you laugh until you cry happy tears. Research shows that good moods are contagious  —which may be why my day suddenly got a whole lot brighter after a quick call with my sister, who never fails to remind me that no matter how tough things seem, I’ve got this. 

Get a dose of green.

Seeing trees, flowers, and other greenery causes a relaxation response in your brain that lowers levels of stress hormones—so it’s no surprise I felt better after taking my dog for a quick walk at lunch while my husband checked in our son. Stuck at your computer? Google a nature documentary. A recent UC Berkeley study found that people who watched a wildlife video experienced an instant boost in feelings of peace and happiness.

Indulge

… in some dark chocolate, that is. Unlike polishing off a pint of ice cream or three margaritas, the feel-good effects last a whole lot longer. Loma Linda University researchers recently discovered that  in addition to easing stress, dark chocolate improves your memory, immunity, and overall mood. Which is why I didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty for snacking on a truffle instead of an apple yesterday afternoon.   

Be of service.

Being so stressed you can’t see straight may not seem like the best time to lend a hand—but it’s precisely when you should help another person, reveals a Yale University study. Researchers found that coming to another person’s aid buffers the effects of a rotten day. One reason? Small acts of kindness take your attention off your own problems. (No wonder I forgot all about my unread emails when I was fetching my son popsicles and cough medicine.)

Flip a few pages.

Reading for just six minutes a day can reduce your stress levels a whopping 68 percent, according to a recent British study . My favorite relaxation reads are novels that keep me turning the pages, yet give me a fresh perspective … or even a newfound appreciation for life. Last night, I picked up Kelly Harms’ The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, and wouldn’t you know—I went to bed with a smile on my face.

About the Author:

Camille Pagán is the author of five novels, including I’m Fine and Neither Are You. http://camillepagan.com/Find her here: 

I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagán out now!

Wife. Mother. Breadwinner. Penelope Ruiz-Kar is doing it all—and barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, appears to be sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood, and the daily grind she calls a career.

Then a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from perfect. Reeling, Penelope vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. So she and Sanjay agree to a radical proposal: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty.

What seems like a smart idea quickly spirals out of control, revealing new rifts and even deeper secrets. As Penelope stares down the possible implosion of her marriage, she must ask herself: When it comes to love, is honesty really the best policy?

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