Easy ways to bring more joy into your life

Google searches for ‘daily well-being tips’ have increased by more than 400% since May, with people searching for simple ways to live a more joyful life day to day.

Wellbeing and women’s health expert Dr Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, offers insight on the habits to help you live a more joyful life every day.

1. It’s now 10 a day
There’s no doubt about it, the more fruit and veg you eat, the happier you are likely to be. But are you getting the new recommendation of 10 portions of fruit and veg a day?

Fruit and veg contain antioxidants, natural substances that are vital for human health because they counteract the harmful effects of oxidative stress. Every cell in our bodies is continually undergoing oxidation in order to produce the energy needed for its chemical reactions.

2. Catch up on sleep
Getting seven hours a night of good quality sleep is essential for good health and happiness. But did you know that the average UK adult accumulates a 32-hour sleep debt every month?

The first step is to establish a consistent bedtime routine. Next, it’s time to pay off the sleep debt. Start by sleeping 15-30 minutes longer each night. A short, 20-minute, mid-afternoon nap can also be helpful but don’t sleep for too long, as after 30 minutes the body enters deep sleep, and it is hard to wake to feel refreshed from this part of the sleep cycle.

3. Acts of kindness
It’s a fact that when we show kindness to other people, we start to feel better about ourselves. Studies have shown that being kind improves our self-esteem and confidence and increases our feeling of overall wellbeing.

There are many ways to show kindness. Why not drop in on an elderly neighbour, walk a friend’s dog, or offer to babysit? You could volunteer in a charity shop or become a blood donor.

And don’t forget to also be kind to yourself! We tend ourselves a hard time when things go wrong, but in fact, to err is human. Try and shrug it off, and learn from your mistakes, doing it better next time. Humans are not perfect.

4. Get moving
Taking regular physical exercise has so many benefits for both mental and physical health. The worst thing you can do for your mood and well-being is to remain sedentary and stuck inside the house.

Getting up and out to exercise gets you out into natural daylight. This is vital for the body to enable our natural Circadian rhythms. In sunlight our bodies make vitamin D, which is essential for the control of the immune system.

5. Manage social media
There is now an undeniable link between too much use of social media and stress, anxiety and depression. Strangely, social media can increase, not decrease, feelings of loneliness. Many suffer from Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) – anxiously reaching for their phone every few minutes to check nothing has happened without them.

Research suggests that limiting your social media contact to 30-minutes a day improves levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Try turning your phone off at certain times of the day, to get started. Switch your phone off overnight and put it out of sight so your sleep is not disturbed. Only allow yourself to check your phone once every 30 minutes, then once an hour, and so on.

6. Live in the present
So often we find ourselves dwelling on the past or catastrophising about the future, which is actually wasted emotion. Psychologists believe we are all happier if we live in the here and now.

You can bring yourself into the present moment by practising some simple mindfulness and breathing techniques.

7. Find time for leisure
People who spend time doing hobbies and pastimes have less stress and anxiety than those who do not. A 2009 survey showed that those who had the greatest participation in leisure activities had lower blood pressure, lower BMI, lower cortisol levels, as well as lower levels of anxiety and depression. The authors commented that participating in leisure activities provided a way of buffering the negative impact of stress, helping to reestablish feelings of wellbeing and calm.

8. Laughter power
It’s easy to overlook the benefits of having a good laugh. But in fact, research substantiates the fact that laughing is good for both physical and mental health.
When you laugh, your brain produces an outburst of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, giving you a natural high. Laughter helps combat stress, and also, because we feel more positive, helps us to take decisions and stop procrastinating. Laughter also increases levels of the feel-good hormone, dopamine.

9. Omega-3 supplements
Taking fish oil tablets has been shown to improve symptoms of depression. These contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PFAs) which are essential for good health. In a 2019 meta-analysis of 26 studies, taking omega-3 supplements improved depressive symptoms better than a placebo. In fact, omega 3 is good for anxiety, heart health, skin, and memory to name a few.

Here are some happiness tips from our Audrey community

Getting totally absorbed in a book
Whether I’m on a train, on the beach, or tucked up all cosy in bed, there’s nothing I like better than getting totally absorbed in a great story involving humour and characters I love and can relate to. Recommendations from friends are always great -like Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan and Again, Rachel, the sequel to Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. I like a bit of history too, and read The Covent Garden Ladies, by Halle Rubenhold (the book that inspired the TV series Harlots), and a good autobiography or biography – the latest being Driving Forwards by Sophie Morgan, which is Sophie’s story of dealing with a life-changing accident. It’s an inspirational read, which really puts things in perspective.

Wendy Rigg, fashion stylist

Focus on the present
Wherever possible focus on the present rather than living in the future or past. Focus on the great things in your life and practice gratitude daily. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life and fill your life with joy.

Diane Watson, financial planner

A mindfulness walk
I love to do a mindfulness walk in nature, which elevates all the senses. I feel the ground under my feet and the play of air on my face, smelling the leaves and trees and air, taking in the beautiful scenery and noticing each tiny detail of the tree trunks or flowers and plants along the way. Being totally in the moment and just breathing it in – It always lifts my spirits.

Jo Tocher, holistic therapist

With thanks to Life insurance broker, Reassured.

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