A major player in unhappiness is stress, which from a body-chemistry standpoint, means elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Our modern lifestyles tend to impose a steady, undesirable level of constant/ baseline stress on our systems. Even if we have not been through one of the major stressors in life recently (marriage, childbirth, divorce, buying/ selling a home, etc.), most of us maintain a high cortisol burden. When we live in a city, drive in cars, raise kids with busy schedules, and have to keep on top of our own careers, it can be quite difficult to reduce our stress burden. Therefore, it can put quite a damper on happiness.
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The next best thing to moving to a tropical island and forgetting all our burdens is to mitigate the effects of stress in our bodies. As our mindfulness coaches may tell us, there is great benefit to the practice of being present in the here and now. This means staying in the present moment and abstaining from troubling thoughts of the past and the future, or getting stuck on things you should have done and things you have still to do. By staying in the present moment you will keep your nervous system calm and keep your stress hormones down. In other words, staying in the present moment can lead to a decrease in stress, and therefore an increase in happiness.
What else can you do to decrease your stress level every day, and therefore be contributing to your overall happiness?
- Eat regular meals, especially healthy proteins for breakfast everyday: By eating regularly you keep your cortisol (stress hormone) levels in balance. When you skip a meal, your body has to go into overdrive to maintain your current level of activity, which literally stresses your system.
- Take a B complex and magnesium supplement: B Vitamins are heavily used by the adrenal glands and the nervous system, as is magnesium. Our soils are generally depleted in magnesium so most of us need a little extra magnesium on a regular basis. Look for the methylated forms of B Vitamins and look for magnesium glycinate, as these are the most readily absorbed by your body. If you have a particular health concern that might benefit from magnesium supplementation please consult me or a your own local naturopathic doctor to learn more about which form you specifically need.
- Getting to sleep early (yes, when I put my son down at 8pm on some days!)
- Orgasm—oxytocin release lowers cortisol levels. In both genders, high levels of oxytocin are correlated with a parasympathetic state of calm, decreased blood pressure, increased pain threshold, and reduced incidence of depression. Note: you can have an oxytocin release even if you are having an orgasm without a partner!
- Cuddling with humans or pets—again, oxytocin release.
- High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT)—a muscle building, metabolism boosting form of exercise
- Sleep support:
- Dark bedroom, eye mask, earplugs
- No electronics 1 hour before bed
- Regular and consistent sleep schedule (awake and to bed within the same hour everyday)
Taking care of your stress levels and stress management will help you on your quest for happiness. There is also more available through naturopathic medicine than what is outlined here. To create a full plan that will specifically meet your lifestyle and genetic needs, feel free to consult with me at Dr.JeannieN.D.@HappinessExperts.ca
Dr. Jeannie, ND 2016
*Dr. Jeannie Achuff, is a practicing Naturopathic Physician with active practices in both California and British Columbia. She is a Happiness Expert. Note that medical advice provided herein with Dr. Jeannie does not replace or supplant the clinical advice that you get from your family physician(s).
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