Happiness is something we are instinctively driven toward. Even though we all find joy in different ways, the search for happiness defines many of our goals and determines most of our actions. Studies have shown that people who are happy have stronger immune systems, are less likely to catch colds and the flu, have a lower rate of heart and other diseases, and live longer. Happy people are more productive, creative and successful.
While happiness is essential for our wellbeing and quality of life, for many of us it can be challenging to find. Lasting happiness is not in material possessions or future achievements like your next promotion or a new car. The key to happiness is inside you. It’s in your beliefs, your behaviors and the way you view the world.
Unpleasant feelings are a natural part of our emotional range and give depth to life. It is normal to feel sad, angry or anxious sometimes. In fact, these emotions are often useful in protecting us against hazardous situations. While these feelings can be uncomfortable, they aren’t ‘negative’ when they are felt at appropriate times and are balanced with times of feeling more optimistic. Rather than trying to hide these feeling or make them go away, it is helpful to look for ways to acknowledge and express them without getting overwhelmed.
Depression and its Effects
At least one in twenty people currently suffer from clinical depression. Depression is a debilitating condition and can affect other important aspects of a person’s health. Anti-depressant medications change the chemical balance of the brain and can affect a person’s emotional experience. Although they help people feel less depressed, they don’t actually make people happier. If you are taking anti-depressants, it is also important to develop the skills necessary for managing your emotions. If you have trouble finding things that make you happy, or if you feel down a lot of the time, it may be worth investing in your own happiness and well-being by seeing a professional counselor, therapist or psychologist.
There are lots of different ways we can enhance our happiness. Here are some helpful hints:
- Pay attention to the times when you feel happy – you’ll often find it’s in the simple pleasures. Create a list of ‘happy’ things and refer back to it when you feel down.
- Have a passion – put energy into discovering something you feel passionate about, something you believe in and get satisfaction from.
- Act happy – research suggests that acting like you feel optimistic can change your chemical makeup and actually influence how you feel.
- Exercise – even mild regular exercise is beneficial for your emotional well-being. Many studies have confirmed that exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Sleep – getting enough sleep and rest can help you feel more alert and improve your mood.
- Compassion – research shows that doing things for others has a lasting impact on your own level of happiness. Along with seeking short-term pleasure, it is important to participate in activities that establish long-term happiness.
- Foster an attitude of gratitude – remind yourself regularly of all the things you’re grateful for.
- Connect – sharing, communicating and having close relationships with other people are important aspects of our happiness; these behaviours improve your health.
- Manage your emotions – expressing negative emotions and challenging your negative thoughts can help to bring a sense of balance and control back into your life.
- Decision making – try to make decisions when you are feeling centred rather than making hasty choices when you feel emotionally overwhelmed.
It’s harder to be happy when your body isn’t. When nerve interference is present in your spine, it can affect the areas of your brain responsible for emotion. This may alter your mood and perceptions, make you feel more stressed, disturb your memory and clarity of thought, and may even influence the types of thoughts you have. Chiropractic care helps relieve stress and tension from your body by correcting subluxations. It is associated with your body releasing dopamine and other “feel good” substances (such as endorphins) that help give you a sense of well-being.
As your body begins to function better, it filters through to your thoughts and feelings. Studies on people receiving chiropractic care show they feel less affected by stress, they have more energy, can think more clearly and have significantly improved enjoyment and quality of life.
Connection to Others
Studies show that our biggest source of happiness comes from feeling connected to others. We are social beings, and it is important for us to be with people, to form meaningful relationships and friendships, to communicate and feel supported. Social, special interest, sporting and religious groups are great for this.
Compassion is one quality that gives us a lasting sense of happiness. Doing things to help others and having compassion for yourself are important parts of what helps us to feel happy.
By improving the function of your spine and nervous system, Doctors of chiropractic help to enhance the health and well-being of your whole body. They can also suggest other healthy lifestyle practices to help you live life to the fullest.
Remember, this month’s Theme of the Month is Depression, Stress & Your Spine. This month, all of your friends, co-workers and family members who are battling with Depression, Stress & Your Spine are entitled to an Initial Subluxation Check-up. Be sure to speak to a member of our team to get your “New Patient Welcome Packet” that you can give to the friend, co-worker or family member that you have in mind.
For Your Health,
Dr. Billie King Shaw