Episode 8 – 24th April 2023
HOW TO BE HAPPIER TOMORROW
9 simple things you can do today to be happier tomorrow.
“It can improve mood. It can improve self esteem. It increases your self esteem! For some reason, it promotes positive emotions like joy and awe even, you know, to be able to just sit back and go, wow. This is beautiful. What I’m looking at right now is not a screen. It’s not the inside of my house. It’s not the inside of my eyelids. It’s … you know … it’s really awesome in the true sense of the word.”
Happiness, Mental Health, Well-being, Nature, Gratitude, Social Connections, New Activities, Music, Exercise, Social Media, Facebook, Creative Pursuits, Learning New Skills, Cognitive Function, Dance Movement Therapy, Loneliness, Anxiety, Neural Plasticity, Dementia, Random Acts of Kindness
In this episode, we discuss 9 simple things you can do today to be happier tomorrow, backed by evidence and research! We explore the benefits of spending time in nature, practicing gratitude, and connecting with others for mental health and well-being. We also delve into trying new activities, such as moving your body in a new way and listening to different genres of music, to break monotony and challenge both the mind and body. Additionally, we examine the role of Facebook-based social support in promoting health and well-being, as well as the complex relationship between social media use and mental health. Finally, we uncover the surprising benefits of engaging in creative activities and learning new skills for overall cognitive function and mental health, and wrap up our discussion by exploring the power of performing random acts of kindness. Join us as we dive into these evidence-backed ways to boost your happiness and well-being!
(0:00:01) – Benefits of Nature for Mental Health (10 Minutes)
How to Be Happier Tomorrow: 9 Simple Things You Can Do Today’ discusses the importance of happiness and offers nine evidence-backed ways to increase it. In this episode, the focus is on the benefits of spending time in nature to improve mental health and overall well-being. Research has shown that spending time in nature can improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive functioning. Even just a few minutes outdoors in a green space can make a significant difference. The color green has been linked to positive effects on cognition, mental illness, and dementia.
(0:10:16) – Mental Health Through Nature (10 Minutes)
In this chapter, we delve into the benefits of spending time in nature, practicing gratitude, and connecting with others for promoting mental health and well-being. Studies have shown that incorporating nature into your daily routine can significantly improve mental health, while practicing gratitude can lead to greater life satisfaction and lower levels of depression and anxiety. The chapter also highlights the importance of quality social connections in fostering happiness, resilience, and emotional stability. By cultivating deep and meaningful relationships with others, individuals can improve their overall outlook on life and better cope with stress and adversity.
(0:20:14) – Meaningful Connections & Music (15 Minutes)
Continuing our exploration of simple ways to boost happiness, we discuss the importance of trying new activities, such as moving your body in a new way and listening to different genres of music. Engaging in various forms of exercise and movement can help break monotony and challenge both the mind and body. Additionally, listening to new types of music can expand your musical horizons and offer specific mental health benefits. We also touch on the potential benefits of taking a break from social media to reset and refocus, as well as the positive effects of dance movement therapy on mental health.
(0:35:09) – Facebook and Social Media Use (11 Minutes)
In this section, we examine the role of Facebook-based social support in promoting health and well-being, as well as the complex relationship between social media use and mental health. We discover that while social media can have positive effects on mental health, the quality of support and potential risks are important considerations. Additionally, we discuss the impact of excessive social media use on loneliness and anxiety, emphasizing the need for thoughtful and intentional use of these platforms. Shifting the focus to creativity, we explore the numerous mental health benefits of engaging in creative pursuits like drawing, painting, or writing.
(0:46:22) – Creative Pursuits & Learning (11 Minutes)
In this chapter, we uncover the surprising benefits of engaging in creative activities and learning new skills for overall cognitive function and mental health. Creativity has been shown to improve cognitive function in older adults, promote neural plasticity, and potentially slow down the progression of dementia. Engaging in creative activities can also provide social benefits and a sense of community. One study highlights the impact of co-creativity on individuals living with dementia and their caregivers, revealing the potential benefits of collaborative creative activities. Additionally, we discuss the advantages of learning new skills or hobbies, such as reducing stress, boosting mental health, and improving memory.
(0:57:23) – Random Acts of Kindness (10 Minutes)
We wrap up our discussion on simple ways to increase happiness by exploring the power of performing random acts of kindness. Not only do these acts benefit the recipient, they also positively impact the person performing the act by increasing feelings of social connection, boosting self-esteem, and reducing stress. Performing even small acts of kindness can lead to improved mental health and happiness. One interesting study suggests that multiple small acts of kindness throughout the day may be more beneficial for mental health than one large act of kindness.
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Good day, everyone. Welcome to this episode of Reboot Your Finking Podcast. This is episode eight. And the title is how to be happier tomorrow. Right? So it’s basically nine simple things that you may not have thought of. That you can do today in order to be happier tomorrow.
I get a lot of questions about happiness and and how to be happy and what does happy mean and how do I find it and who is responsible for it and how important it is in our lives and It’s really the the time when you realize happiness is important in your life is when you’re not having it, you know, when it’s not as readily as except accessible as it is in other times in your life. And so, yeah, I wanna make it really simple today. So we’re just gonna talk about nine very simple things. That you can do today in order to be happier tomorrow. I know this seems like impossible task sometimes. So let’s make it really really simple. Okay? So there’s nine things and we’re gonna go through each one and I’ve got heaps of sort of peer reviewed and evidence based research to chuck in along the way. So it’s not just me, you know, spouting my opinions, but it’s it’s it’s this is all backed by sides as usual on this podcast. So number one, The first things, very simple thing you can do today in order to be happier tomorrow. Number one is spend some time in nature.
Research has shown that spending time in nature can improve your mood. It can reduce stress. It can improve cognition, and it and it can improve happiness. So even just a few minutes, outside in a green space can make a difference. So the green thing is actually really important. Some of the work that I do is with people who live with dementia. And there’s a lot of research now that says greens and blues, in particular greens. And I don’t mean broccoli, like, the the color green is actually a really positive thing for cognition, for the slowing down of cognitive degenerative things going on in the brain that in that decrease cognition like dementia, but also with mental illness as well. So There’s a growing body of research that suggests that spending time in nature has significant benefits for mental health and well-being in general. Being in nature can reduce your stress. It can improve mood. It can improve self esteem. It increases self esteem. For some reason, it promotes positive emotions like joy and awe even, you know, to be able to just sit back and go, wow. This is beautiful. What I’m looking at right now is not a screen. It’s not the inside of my house. It’s not the inside of my eyelids. It’s it’s, you know, it’s really awesome in the word in the true sense of the word. Right?
One of one of the theories behind why nature is so beneficial for mental health is this concept called bioophilia, which suggests that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. So when we’re in nature, we we may feel a sense of relaxation and restoration that can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. This is the science. Right? This is not just me. So in terms of the amount of time that you need to experience the benefits of nature, research suggests that even just a few minutes outside in a green space can make a relatively big difference. So For example, there was a study in two thousand and ten that found that participants who took a fifty minute walk five zero walk in a natural setting, reported improving their mood and lowering their levels of anxiety compared to those who took a walk in an urban setting for much less time. So, you know, it it shows that just getting outside, but also getting outside in somewhere that’s different from your everyday environment. Really really helps.
There’s there’s one study which I’m gonna look into a bit here. It’s from twenty twenty one, so it’s very recent. In a journal called ecological applications. The title of the the study is a room with a green view. The importance of nearby nature for mental health. So and again, I’ll put all of these links in the show notes So if you wanna look further into any of these papers, you can do that.
But basically, the paper investigate the impact of nearby nature on mental health. And the authors argue that access to green spaces like parks and gardens has become even more important for mental health, you know, post pandemic and during the pandemic. As as people were kinda spending more time indoors there and experiencing increased stress and anxiety. As a result. I mean, we can all probably relate to that coming out of the coronavirus stuff. So The paper reviewed sort of previous research on the benefits of nature for mental health, including the improved mood, reduced stress, and the increased cognitive functioning that I that I referenced before. And the authors found that so they did a it was a study of three thousand adults It was a Japanese study.
In Japan, three thousand adults, which found that people had who had access to green spaces within one kilometer of their home, reported mental, better mental health than those who did not have access to it. So this was even interesting that that you didn’t even need to be in that grain space, but just to have it near you actually improve your mental health. If you knew you could access it in less than a kilometer away from your home than that was and and this season, we’re not talking about big woods here or big, you know, massive commons or forest or anything like that, like a, you know, a a very small park or playground, which, you know, a lot of us are very fortunate to have close to our home can actually improve our mental health. Just knowing it’s there is actually a pretty interesting finding. Another surprising finding. From the from the paper was that even like, knowing it was there, as I said, but even just having a view of nature from a window So even if you could see nature out of your window, the study found that people who had a a a view of greenery from their home reported better mental health than those who did not have that view. Even even when controlling for other factors like age and gender and income, like none of that mattered. What mattered was that you could look at your window and see some green. That you could look at your window and see something that wasn’t brick and and more of the next door or or whatever. So that’s kind of interesting. And I know you know, I understand that not everyone can look at their window and see nature. And and some people are very fortunate to be able to do that. But I can just tell you from from a scientific point of view, you know, it made a difference to to to mental health. And one of the points that the authors make in the paper is that policy makers and urban planners should be prioritizing access to these green spaces in in really build up urban areas because it just promotes a better mental health and well-being in the community.
And there was another study Also from twenty twenty one, this was from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. And it’s about activity participation. And and particularly with in in adults, in sort of in adolescents, sorry, in younger younger adults. So it looked at the impact of outdoor activities on the mental health and well-being of adolescence as opposed to training and participating in sporting activities inside. And the authors argue that again, the pandemic had a significant impact on adolescent mental health, and and many adolescent people experience increased stress and anxiety and social isolation as as we all did.
The study looked into the relationship between outdoor activity, participation, and mental health. Among adults, this is an American study, It found that the adolescents who participated in outdoor activities, things like hiking, gown for walks, bush walking, biking, fishing, anything that was done out in again, in nature reported better mental health and well-being than those that didn’t. Or those that that did things inside, like, you know, riding the Peloton bike or or watching you know, CrossFit stuff in that on the Internet and doing that themselves in their home during their pandemic, they found that that wasn’t as good for your for their mental health, for adolescents mental health. So we found that the benefits of the outdoor activity was particularly strong for adolescents who were already experiencing, you know, mental health challenges before the pandemic. And these adolescents reported significant improvements in their mental health and well-being after participating in outdoor activities.
And which is interesting. Right? And one of the surprising things from the paper is that outdoor activity participation had a stronger impact on mental health and well-being than other factors such as screen time and social media use. Right? The study found that while screen time and social media use were associated with negative mental health outcomes. Outdoor activity participation had a stronger impact on mental health and well-being. I mean, that doesn’t it’s not incredibly surprising, but given the consumption of these social media and screen time and and stuff in general for adolescents and younger people, you know, it’s an important finding. Right?
So, yeah, overall, that paper highlights the importance of getting outside and doing things outside, promoting mental health and well-being. Particularly during times of stress and anxiety. Right? So that that was obviously representative in the pandemic, but outside of that, any other times where there is a a time of stress and uncertainty adolescence will benefit from getting outside and doing things outside. So, you know, overall spending time in nature is a simple and accessible, largely accessible way. To promote mental health and well-being. Right? Whether it’s taking a walk in the park, sitting under a tree, or simply looking at a window a view of nature if you like it to have one.
Incorporating some time in nature into your daily routine can have significant benefits for your mental health. So that’s number one. Get outside, commune with nature. Right? And number two is to practice gratitude, but but I I know I bang on about gratitude a lot. So in this context, we’re gonna specifically talk about one particular type of gratitude. Right? So first some background, taking time each day to reflect on things that you are grateful for can help shift your mindset and increase feelings of productivity.
Practicing gratitude involves intentionally folk intentionally focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of your life. Right? Whether it’s something big or something small, And it shifts you focus away from negative thoughts and emotions and and instead cultivate feelings of joy and contentment and happiness, which is important for today. Right? And and just as a side note, when you when you write down things that you’re grateful for, you are more grateful for those things. You’ve heard me say that before. That is absolutely true from a neuropsychology point of view from a abology point of view, it is absolutely proven that when you write something down that you’re grateful for, you become more grateful for that thing.
Research has also shown that if you regularly practice gratitude, it impacts positively on your mental health and your well-being. One study that I looked at found that individuals who practiced gratitude had greater levels of life satisfaction. And positive effects, you know, as well as lower levels of depression and anxiety. But, you know, that’s pretty impressive. Another study found that individuals who practice gratitude had improved sleep quality and duration of sleep was improved. So, you know, there’s lots of different ways to boost your your happiness and is something as simple as just being grateful for when you are happy or grateful for what makes you happy. Or what makes you feel nice, you know. And that’s a very simple thing that’s that’s accessible for all of us, really. This study in particular, the type of gratitude that I wanna just focus on is single session gratitude. Right? So just not the regular keeping of a gratitude journal as I I would love you to do because I’ve just told you how great that is and how easy it is and and and I just think it’s a I just think it’s a free hit for us to keep that sort of thing regularly in our life. But This paper was from actually from this year.
It was published earlier this year and it’s from the Journal of Positive Psychology The title is the impact of single session gratitude innovations on stress and affect. And the paper explores the effects of single session gratitude interventions on on stress and on general effect and life satisfaction and investigated whether a brief gratitude intervention can reduce stress levels and improve your ethics. Right? So even just very briefly just being really grateful for something in the moment. Right? The study was small sample sizes, eighty participants. It’s not huge.
But they completed a single session gratitude intervention that involved writing about things they were grateful for in their lives. Right? It’s a one off sort of thing. The participants completed pre and post intervention measures of stress in the effective states. Including measures of positive and negative effect. Right? So they they knew they had a baseline, then they performed the single session gratitude and then tested them afterwards to test their effect and and how that changed that. Right? The study found that the gratitude intervention led to significant reductions in stress levels and improvements in positive effect. Specifically, the participants reported lower levels of perceived stress after the intervention and higher levels of positive affect compared to before the intervention. It’s just crazy. Right? That there’s something that as simple as that can can make such a drastic change. One one surprising find of finding from the paper. Is that the effects of the gratitude intervention were sustained then over time. The study found that the participant’s stress levels remained lower and their positive effect remained higher even two weeks after the intervention. So, you know, this overall, single session gratitude has a significant and lasting effect on stress and effective states. And the authors of the paper argue that these interventions could be a simple and effective way to promote mental health and well-being at a much, much larger scale. Right?
Smokedicing gratitude doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to write down or think about things you’re grateful for such as good health or supporting family or supportive and kind friends, a beautiful sunset, a kind gesture from a stranger. Right? By by actively focusing on these positive aspects of your life. People may find the overall outlook on life improves. And they’ll find in that in turn that they are better able to cope with stress and adversity. They sleep better. They have better relationships. And when you write down what you’re grateful for, you become even more grateful for it. So the the benefit of this is exponentially bigger, outwards from there.
So that’s number two. Number three is connect with someone. And if People know me in real life. They know this isn’t funny one because I’m a bit of a a clue in in can be, but social connection is very very important for mental health. It’s not just about the quality so the quantity of relationships, you know, quality matters too. It doesn’t matter I know I know people who have lots and lots and lots of friends and they’re very lonely and they’re very disconnected because the quality of those friendships are they’re great. You know, they’ve gone for quantity rather than quality. So think about reaching out to a friend or a loved one to deepen the connection you already have potentially. Right?
Human beings are social creatures. And and social connections are an important aspect of mental health and well-being. Studies have shown that people who have strong social relationships tend to be happier. They have greater resilience. They’re more emotionally stable. Than those who you are experiencing social isolation. And we’ve just been through a massive involuntary social isolation. So it’s important to get these skills back and get that happiness back in our life now that we can reconnect with people. The quality of social relationships though is just as important as the quantity. As I mentioned before, it’s it’s not enough to simply have many social connections, it’s important to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships with others. Right? This means taking the time to really connect with people to listen and to show empathy and to share experiences and to share emotions to to be vulnerable and allow someone to see who you really are and and what you’re really feeling, you know.
One of the papers that I looked at, which I think is is worth talking about here is from twenty twenty one. It’s out of the Journal of adolescent health. And it’s about the perceived socio economic socio emotional, sorry, impact of the pandemic and the implications for mental health from that. So this isn’t I can study. And it included sort of an online survey and and really in-depth interviews they actually did with the very diverse group of of younger people. And the findings revealed that adolescents experienced significant stress and anxiety related to social life. Social isolation and uncertainty about their future. This study also found that social support resilience and adaptive coping strategies were important factors that helped mitigate the negative effect on mental health. Right? One one surprising finding was that some adolescents reported positive changes in their lives due to improved relationships with family members and and more time for self reflection and personal growth. Like that’s you know, we talk about friendship a lot and social connections being built with people outside of our family. But this this paper found that when these adolescent these young people tried to build on and improve the relationships with family members, then it had an overall positive effect as well. Which is nice. Right? It’s not just about families. It’s not just about friendships and mateship.
So regardless of how you choose to connect with others, the important thing is to prioritize relationships, invest time and energy in cultivating that deep meaningful connection. Right? By doing so, you might find that your sense of happiness from fulfillment and overall well-being really improves. Right? Connecting with others takes many forms depending on your preferences and your circumstances. So you know, it might involve calling a friend or family member to catch up, reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, making plans to do something fun or meaningful together. Right? It can also involve joining a social group or a club that aligns with your interests if you don’t if if you’re not overflowing with social connections right now, this is a good way to do that. You know, it might be a a walking group or a a cross fit gym or a boxing gym or a book club or, you know, something that aligns with your interests where other people are coming together as well, and you’re able to investigate your hobby and your interest, but also you’re able to build your self esteem, build your self worth, build your health and well-being physically and mentally at the same time. Which is nice too.
So that’s number three. Number four is to move your body in a new way. Right? So a a few podcast episodes ago, we talked about the power of movement in general. Now, this one specifically is talking about moving your body in a new way. Right? Trying to trying a new form of exercise or movement cannot only challenge your body, but also engage your mind at which boost your mood. So so you can do the same things you’ve always done. Right? But that we’re talking about just moving in a different way engaging in a different activity to what you’re used to or what your body is used to doing, and it has great great effects on your mental health and on your happiness. Engaging in physical activity has numerous benefits obviously for both physical and mental health and and it can improve your mood and it can reduce your stress and all those things that we we already know. Right?
But doing the same type of exercise or physical activity over and over again can actually become kind of a naughtness and it can lead to boredom, and reduce motivation and noncompliance. Right? If you go to the gym all the time and all you ever do is get on the treadmill and walk for twenty minutes. I mean, some people get off on that and that might be enough for some people, but that would bore the shit out of me and and that would mean I wouldn’t go. Right? If if I’d never investigate anything different from that, I’m gonna get pretty sick of that pretty quickly. And that just means for me, when I get bored, I just chuck chuck it in. Right? I just stop doing it. So that’s that’s why it’s important to keep pushing yourself, keep doing something different, not not necessarily, you know, more intense or harder or more challenging or more dangerous or anything like that. Just just different, you know. Trying new form of exercise or movement can help break up that monotony. It stimulates different muscles and movement patterns and it can challenge the mind and the body in in new ways. Right? So if you usually run or or ride a bike or something you could try doing a yoga class or a dance class. If you typically just lift weights at the gym, you could try a new activity potentially outdoor. And in nature, like we’ve already talked about before, like, you know, ride climbing or kayaking or ocean swimming or something like that.
There was a there was a paper that was from twenty twenty. Now this is an Australian study, so The name of the paper is depression, anxiety, and stress during COVID, associations with changes in physical activity, sleep, tobacco and alcohol use in Australian adults. So I do love an Aussie study. You know that. So we’ve been talking about that today. This this paper examines the associations between changes in physical activity, sleep, both quality and duration, tobacco and alcohol use, with depression, anxiety, and stress. Right? In in in aussie adult. So the study found that decreased physical activity, poor sleep quality, and increased tobacco and alcohol use were associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. On the other hand, increased physical activity and changing that physical activity was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety. One surprising factor. I don’t know if it’s that surprising from the studies that changes in alcohol and tobacco use were not consistently associated with mental health outcomes. In some cases, increased alcohol use was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety while increased to back use was not significant in it associated with any of the mental health outcomes.
So it’s it’s all it’s kind of points more to the exercise, the physical activity, and the type of it, and the variance of it, then even the effect of tobacco or alcohol can have on a person. So By engaging in new forms of movement, you can potentially discover, you know, a new hobby or passion while also reaping the physical and mental benefits of exercise in general. Okay. Number five, in our nine simple things is to listen to a new type of music. So not just listening to music in general, but listening to a new type music. Listening to music in general can have a really positive effect on our mood and our emotions, both up and down. Right? So if you think about looking into a new genre of music or a new artist to expand your kind of musical horizons, this has a big benefit for your mental health and your happiness going forward. This is something I talk to my clients a lot about. And we you know, I’m encouraging them to to move more and all that. And sometimes for them, that means, you know, walk around the block. And so in that walk around the block, which might take ten minutes, that’s kind of two music tracks, maybe two and a half, maybe three music tracks. I really encourage them to listen to not something they’ve listened to a thousand times, but something completely different. Spotify does this really well. It’s it’s not an ad for Spotify, but Spotify does this really well in in creating playlist for you. You know, based on what you’ve listened to before and and introducing you to new stuff. So it’s a really, really good way to be able to boost your your happiness and and just your contentment in life and and and and while also, you know, broadening your horizons a little bit too.
Music has been showing to have numerous positive effects on on your mental health. Can include reducing your stress, reduce anxiety, improve mood, increase relaxation, When when we listen to music, it can stimulate the release of dopamine in our brains. And dopamine means that neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. So this is why we kind of often feel uplifted and motivated after listening to our favorite songs. Right? The stuff that we listen to all the time or the genre that we listen to all one can really do that because it’s a massive dopamine release for us. By exploring a new genre of music or a new artist, We expose ourselves again to different styles, rhythms, different lyrics that we might not have heard before. Now, that broadens our musical horizons, sure. But it also potentially introduces us to a new favorite artist or a new favorite genre, which again can offerlessly lead to dopamine, which leads to happiness, You know, additionally, listening to music in a different language can also be a great way to expand our cultural appreciation or cultural knowledge. So you know, if you get a world music playlist on Spotify or something like that, you know, I I traveled for a long time when I was younger through Latin America, I still listen to a lot of music in Spanish, and and it does hits different. Right? It’s just it sort of pushes me to improve more Spanish yen, but it also just isn’t something I listen to often or hear, you know, at the shops or in the car or whatever. So it’s it’s nice. It’s a good way to kind of make my brain work a bit differently and and increase in my happiness as well.
Reduces stress and anxiety listening to calming music, for instance, has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And lowers symptoms of anxiety. Music improves mood. Listening to upbeat music can improve your mood. Increases positive emotions, reduces negative emotions. That’s that’s the goal. Enhances your focus and productivity, listening to music with a moderate tempo and low lyrics can enhance focus and productivity can boost your self esteem. Music that promotes positive self talk, for instance, can boost self esteem and feelings of self worth. And it can promote relaxation and sleep. Listening to calming music before bed can promote relaxation and it and improve the quality and the duration of your sleep. Exploring new genres and artists can expand your musical horizons introduce you to new types of music that may have specific benefits for mental health. Right? For example, listening to classical music has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve your mood. While listening to nature sounds, thunderstorm sounds, forest, rainforest, trickling stream, whatever. Can promote relaxation and reduce stress as well as having sleep benefits as well.
There’s a couple of papers on this topic, they’re both from twenty twenty one. The first one is was published in fronties in psychology and and examines the relationship between music listening and life satisfaction. So the study was conducted through an online survey again. Participants were asked about their music listening habits and the satisfaction their life the satisfaction with their life at that time. And the results suggested that music listing was positively associated with life satisfaction, even after controlling for demi demographic factors, you know, mental health and other lifestyle factors. So Surprising finding from the study was that the positive relationship between music listening and life satisfaction was stronger for those who reported feeling more stressed during the pandemic. So if you’ve had a really stressful twenty twenty and twenty twenty one when when we’re in the depths of COVID. Listening to music has been shown to have huge benefits for your mental health and your happiness now in twenty twenty two, twenty twenty three. So Yeah. I can’t stress that high enough. If you’ve had a a rough pandemic listening to music is is a key out of it. Right?
The second paper also from twenty twenty one was in the clinical psychology and psychotherapy review. And it talks about dance movement therapy for mental health. So it was a systematic review. Explore the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie dance movement therapy for mental health. And investigate the effort the effects of dance dancing basically on a range of mental health outcomes, including depression anxiety and PTSD. And the authors sort of made the point that dance has the potential to promote changes in the brain function. And structure and structure that are associated with improved mental health outcomes. So it’s a rewiring of the brain through dance. This is creating a new neural pathway through dance and movement.
One surprising finding from this paper is that the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie dance for mental health, they’re still not really well understood. More research is needed to explore why it works, but it absolutely works in terms of this is a big study, you know, big sample size. So there was advances are proven positive therapeutic intervention for mental health, which is, you know, I mean, probably everybody knows that to some level if you even if you hate dancing or you think you’re no good at it or whatever, dancing’s awesome, man. Like it makes you feel so much better. It’s instant release of of endorphins and dopamine and all the good stuff, serotonin, even the stuff that makes you, you know, really feel content and happy. A lot of that is released during moments where you’re a dougie dancing. So yeah. I strongly highly recommend it.
The sixth simple thing that you can do today to be happy tomorrow is to take a break from social media. Now, this is gonna sound odd coming from me, perhaps given my work background, but my professional background in the past, but look, social media can be a source of stress in comparison. For many people. And taking a break from it even just for a day or two can really help you reset and refocus I recently had about a year away, mostly away from Instagram and different things because it was starting to really affect me and affect my mental health and my sense of happiness and Honestly, I I I can’t recommend it enough. You know, there’s and especially for younger people, I think, you know, I just don’t think much good comes from it, to be totally honest. And, you know, there’s a lot of people who connect via social media who are otherwise socially disconnected. So obviously, that’s an important thing. But, you know, there is a lot of danger in that. And so I I did a bit a fair bit of study.
On this research on this researching this episode. And one one paper that that I looked at was from twenty twenty from the psychology of popular media. Which is a journal. And the paper was entitled Facebook based social support and health. So it looked at the role of Facebook based social support in promoting wealth health and well-being. What that means is groups, Facebook groups, people who are connected by friendship, and so on, and people who drew their social support from using Facebook. There was an analysis of seventeen different studies in this study.
One of the main findings of the paper is that Facebook based social support can have a positive effect on various aspects of health, including mental health, physical health, and health behaviors. And specifically, the studies reviewed found that Facebook based social support was associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress. It improved self esteem and quality of life. Increased engagement and healthy behaviors like exercise and healthy eating. All those things are positive. Right?
The authors also note that Facebook base social support can provide you unique benefits such as the ability to connect with people, as I said before, who share similar health conditions or experiences and their lifestyles the same. And the convenience and accessibility of using social media to access social support is is good too. However, the authors also caution that the quality of Facebook based social support can vary wide widely. Right? There’s There’s lots of quantity, but the quality is varied and that there are potential risks associated with using social media for your health support such as exposures of negative or inaccurate information, privacy concerns, conspiracy theories, all sorts of things like that, which aren’t aren’t great for us. Right? Overall, the paper suggests that Facebook social support can be available. Facebook based social support can be a valuable tool. For promoting health and well-being, but it’s really important to use social media use social media, sorry, in a thoughtful and intentional way. To maximize its benefits and minimize its risks.
The second paper though, also from twenty twenty, is entitled social media and mental health benefits, risks, and opportunities for research and practice, and it explores the complex relationship between social media use and mental health. Now they reviewed a wide range of existing research again, highlighting both benefits and the risks. Something that I found even given that I used to work, you know, Facebook and Twitter and used to work very much in this in this environment. It’s still crazy to me. This is a global stat that’s seventy percent. Seven zero. Seventy percent of middle aged people across the world Use social media and up to ninety seven percent of people who are under twenty five to. That is globally. That is not just, you know, developed countries. That’s that’s everywhere. So The interesting thing about that, I guess, is that people with mental illnesses access social media at comparable rates, the same rates as the general population does. But has but they have much less access to adequate mental health services. So they are getting some of their mental health serves provision from these platforms, and that’s just frightening, really.
One of the key findings from this paper is that social media can have again both positive and negative effects on your mental health. On the one hand, social media can facilitate social connections and support, promote mental health awareness and education, and it provides a sense of community and belonging. On the other hand, social media can also lead to social comparison, bullying, and exposure to harmful or triggering content. Right? That’s not really a surprise to anyone. The authors of that particular study also highlighted the need for more research to better understand the complex relationship between social media use and mental health, while some studies have suggested that social media use is is linked to increased anxiety, depression. Other mental health issues like that. Other studies have found little or no relationship. There’s just not enough work done on this yet. So overall, that pate paper in particular suggests that social media can be available tool for promoting mental health and well-being, but it’s important to use it again in a thoughtful and intentional way. Now, I don’t always use social media in a thoughtful and intentional way, and I’m gonna guess that you don’t either. That’s the nature of the platforms is that they take away that honest in some degree. They take away that purposeful use of it, that intentional use of it and more in just brain numbing way. So yeah, that’s something to think about for sure.
The third study, though, from twenty twenty, is an investigation of excessive social media use. So this is an Italian study. Italian adults actually and it was explored the the excessive use. So that’s I wanna make that point in relation to loneliness and anxiety. And the study found that social media was positively correlated with loneliness and anxiety, suggesting that it may not be an effective coping mechanism for those experiencing social isolation. One surprising finding was that participants who reported high levels of social media use, also reported high levels of engagement in online social activities such as video calling. Face timing, you know. And that suggests that social media met use may not be a substitute for face to face. Social interactions in reducing feelings of loneliness and activities and acts of anxiety. So even though, you know, people will say, well, It’s not just looking at screen and typing, you know, I I use FaceTime or I use Zoom or I use whatever, but this study found that those two things weren’t linked. So even though people were using video calling and online meetings and FaceTime and whatever. It was still not having a positive effect on on their mental health. So that’s an interesting factor as well. Alright. Enough social media bashing.
Number seven, is to get creative. So engaging in creative pursuits like drawing, painting, or writing can be a great way to boost your mood and reduce your stress. Engaging in creative pursuits has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health and and well-being, whether it’s drawing, painting, writing, or any other form of art stick expression really. The act of creating something can provide a sense of accomplishment and improves your mood and reduces your stress. Research has shown that engaging in creative activities can have a positive effect on your mental health. For example, A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that engaging in creative activities such as writing or drawing, can lead to increased feelings of well-being, increased greater levels of positive emotions greater sense of purpose, greater sense of meaning, greater levels of engagement with the world. Alright? Similarly, a study published in the Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services found that engaging in creativity that creative activities can help reduce your stress and anxiety, and can be in a really effective way to manage your depressive symptoms as well, symptoms of depression as well.
A lot of people will say to me, look, I’m not very hardy though. I’m not I can’t create beautiful things, you know. But I always think about, you know, The way that I make my bed every morning, that’s art. That’s creativity. Right? The way that I put peanut butter on a peanut butter sandwich that is schmick, man. Like, in that’s great creative way and it’s just you know, little things like that. You don’t have to be able to paint beautiful things. You We all create beautiful things and insightful things every day. If you look for it in the right places and and the right ways, you’ll find these things, you know.
There’s there’s a really great book I wanna just mention before I forget. Which is called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s an amazing book. It’s one of my favorite books. It’s probably the book my wife for other people as gifts smaller than any other. Excuse me. Big magic is is amazing. It’s about finding the magic in creativity and sharing creativity. I I honestly, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s so easy to read. And it’s really beautiful. And yeah, I I love it a lot. So if you wanna check out a really good book that you haven’t seen before, that explores some things you might not have thought of before. Then big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is that book.
There’s many positive possible reasons why engaging in creative activities can have such a positive effect. Right? For one, creative activities provide an outlet for self expression, which can be important for individuals who may have difficulty expressing themselves through words alone. So, additionally, creative activities require concentration and focus, which can help to distract the mind from the negative thoughts and the worries that we experience. Engaging in creativity and a creative pursuit can also provide a sense of accomplishment, as I said before, which can be especially important for individuals who might feel stuck or powerless in other areas of their life. So I I can’t do anything about my relationship. I can’t do anything about my work or where I live. But I can make my bed really well or I can write in this journal every day or I can sketch a little thing or I can, you know, whatever. It’s a great way to be able to control what you can control in your life. Right?
Another positive explanation for the mental health benefits credit pursuits is this concept of flow. Now, flow refers to a state of complete absorption and focus in an activity in in which you are fully engaged and immersed in the experience. Engaged in create engaging in creative activities can a way to achieve this state of flow, which has been linked to increased happiness and well-being. If you ever feel like you are just doodling away or drawing or if you’re writing or whatever is your creative pursuit of choice. And you lose track of time and stuff, that’s that’s a good sign that you might be in that flow state, which is a really great way to increase your happiness.
One surprising finding relating to the benefits of creativity is that it can actually help to improve your cognitive function as well as in older adults. As I said, before I I work a little bit in in dementia and and with people who are living with dementia and with people who live with people who live with dementia, And so this cognitive decline in older adults is really it’s a really interesting thing for me. It’s something that I’m quite engaged in. There’s a study published in the Journal of Aging in Health. And it found that engaging in creative activities was associated with improved cognitive function in older adults. The author suggested that Engaging in creative activities might help to stimulate the brain and promote this neural plasticity. So rewiring of neural pathways, creating new neural pathways which can be especially important for maintaining cognitive function as we get older. And slowing down the progression of dementia or even the onset of dementia. So creativity is is huge, man. And it’s a really great way to be able to control again. What we can control and be in charge of the the or otherwise of our brain and and certainly of our happiness as well.
It’s worth noting that engaging in creative pursuits doesn’t have to mean, you know, being a skilled artist or a writer. As I said, the, you know, the act of creating itself is more important, often than the end result, whether it’s, you know, coloring a coloring book, writing in the journal, doodling on a piece of paper. Making a bed, making a great sandwich, making a great coffee, whatever that might be. They all work. It all works. Right? So in addition to the mental health benefits, engaging in creativity can also have social benefits as well, participating in creative groups or workshops can provide a sense of community and connection with others who share similar interests. And it can also provide an opportunity to learn from others share ideas and techniques, receive feedback, receive encouragement, have someone say, that’s beautiful. What you created is beautiful. I love it, you know. And obviously, those things are dopamine related, those things are happiness related.
One study I wanna just dive into a little bit is from two thousand nineteen and it’s about cocreativity. Right? So the study implore explores the impact of a cocreative arts group. On the on the well-being of people. Again, these are people living with dementia. Right? So not necessarily a mental illness, but it’s a brain condition that we that we talk about a bit and that I work with a bit. The group was comprised of individuals with mild to moderate dementia and their caregivers. And they worked together on creative projects like painting and sculpture and creative writing. And it employed a case study approach, so they did in-depth interviews over a period of ten weeks.
Now, the findings of the study suggest that co creativity that is creating something with someone else. Can have a positive impact on the well-being of people more so than just doing it on your own or doing it on your own and then showing somebody for some feedback Right? This was creating something with somebody in partnership. The participants reported feeling a sense of purpose and accomplishment improved mood, improved social interaction. They also reported feeling a greater sense of connection with their loved ones. And a reduced burden of care. Right? They felt like they weren’t as much a burden on someone when they were putting stuff together, you know, together.
The study suggests that cocreativity may provide an opportunity for people with dementia to express themselves creatively and engage in meaningful activity. Promoting a sense of agency and autonomy. One surprising finding from that study was the role of the caregiver. In the cocreative process. Right? So this is the person not affected by dementia in this case. The caregiver has often played a key role in facilitating the creative work, providing support and encouragement to their loved ones with dementia. These dynamic challenged traditional notions of caregiving as the relationship between caregiver and care recipient shifted from one of diff dependence to one of collaboration. And that shift in power dynamics may have contributed to the positive outcomes reported by the participants because it allowed for greater autonomy self expression for the people with dementia. They felt less burden. They felt they were less of a burden and that the the caregiver was more a partner in their life or certainly in that little part of their life.
It’s pretty crazy, pretty amazing. The the overall, that study sort of highlights the potential benefits of co creative activities. So and it suggests that cocreativity may be a valuable tool for promoting well-being. And happiness and hence enhancing quality of life. It also sort of raises important questions about the role of caregivers and those who help help us in our life if we if we live with a mental illness like I do or if you just wanna try and be happier, the people who could potentially be part of that happiness are really important. The role of them in the cocreative process is important and the potential for cocreative activity to challenge traditional notice notions of caregiving, of friendship, of partnership, of community, you know. Yeah. It’s it’s a really interesting study. Again, I’ll put the the link in the show notes, but it’s yeah. It’s awesome. So overall engaging in creative pursuits can be a powerful way to boost your mood, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. Whether it’s through writing or drawing or painting or any other form of artistic expression, finding ways to incorporate creativity into one’s life can have a positive effect on mental health and quality of life. Alright.
So the final two things, simple things today that we can do to be happy tomorrow. Number eight is to learn something new. Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby can be a great way to challenge your mind and boost your mood. Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby can be an effective way to reduce your stress and boost your mental health. Engaging in new and unfamiliar activities stimulate the brain, increasing feelings of accomplishment, self esteem, self confidence, Right? Learning new skills can also promote cognitive functioning and improve your memory and hold off cognitive decline, things like dementia. Studies have shown that engaging in intellectually stimulating activities like learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, All those things can lead to improved cognitive function in old adults and younger adults. So learning a new skill of hobby can be can also provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. And it has a positive effect on loneliness. You know? It can especially be beneficial for people who are experiencing depression or feelings of emptiness.
Learning new, something new, just It doesn’t just kind of distract you from that. It actually boosts the parts of your brain that that promote well-being and promotes satisfaction with your life. And and sometimes those things are are lacking. Right? Additionally, learning something new can provide a sense of control over over your life. It can be especially important for individuals experiencing anxiety or stress, focusing on a new skill or learning a new hobby or language of something can shift your attention away from negative thoughts and ways. And instead focus on the present moment, to make you really mindful of the present moment and the engagement and the enjoyment of that activity. There are many different ways to learn something new from taking a class, self teaching, using an online resources or apps, like Gua Lingo to learn a new language, for instance, on your app.
Learning a new skill. It can also be a great way to connect with others though if you’re not doing it just on your phone. Other people who share the same same or similar interests, which can lead to increased social support, feelings of belonging, dopamine release, happiness, Right? So these things you can see are kind of always interconnected. One one surprising finding from research on the benefits of learning something new. Is that it can lead to improved physical health as well. So for instance, learning to cook healthier meals or taking up a new physical activity like dancing or yoga can lead to improved physical fitness and overall health. Additionally, engaging in mentally stimulating activities like learning a new language or playing a new musical instrument has been shown to have a protective effect on the brain and may reduce the risk of developing cognitive decline later in life.
Really important things that come from about something very very simple, you know. Now and I think it’s important to point out here you don’t have to become proficient and fluent in Italian. Like learning something new can mean watching documentary watching Blue Planet, watching David Atenbreast. I mean, every time I watch something of David Atenbreast, I learn so many things that I didn’t know before. So, you know, there’s there’s great ways to do this that don’t necessarily improve becoming a master in something. Right? Overall, learning something new can provide a wide range of benefits for mental and physical health. It can increase your feelings of accomplishment, provide a sense of purpose. Reduce stress and anxiety, and and even lead, as I said, to improve physical health. And whether it’s taking a class, trying a new hobby, teaching yourself a new skill, getting an app to teach yourself doing something in a group, there are many ways to incorporate learning into your life and and to reap the benefits of that new skill or that new hobby or that new thing that you’ve learned for for your well-being and for your happiness in future.
That’s number eight. Now, number nine is the final one. The final simple thing that you can do today that will increase your happenest tomorrow is to do a random act of kindness. Now I know you some of you might be rolling your eyes right now. And I know it sounds really woo woo, but just hear me out. Right? Doing something calm for someone else. Whether that’s a stranger, it could be stranger or someone you love. Cannot only make them feel good, it also gives you a sense of purpose and connection.
So firstly, what exactly is a random act of kindness. Right? It’s essentially any action that he’s done to help or benefit another person without any expectation of reward or recognition for yourself. Can be things like paying for someone’s coffee behind you, leaving a positive note for a coworker, helping someone carry their groceries, I mean, god, there’s a million things. Right? But research has shown that performing these random backs of kindness can have a positive effect on our mental health. One study published in the Journal of Social Psychology found that participants who performed active acts of kindness for ten days in a row repeated reported increased levels of happiness compared to those who did not engage in Kinacs. Additionally, the researchers found that the positive effects on the Kinacs We’re not just limited to the person performing them, but also extended to the recipients of the accident. That makes sense. Right?
But there are a few reasons why performing acts of kindness can benefit your mental health. One, is that it can increase feelings of social connection and belonging. We’ve already covered that. When we do something kind for someone else, it can it can create a sense of closeness and positivity in our relationship with that person and with others in general. This can lead to increased feelings of social support and a sense of belonging to a community both of which are really important for maintaining good mental health. Another reason is that performing acts of kindness can boost self esteem. We do something good for others, it can give us a sense of accomplishment and purpose. It can also make us feel good about ourselves and our ability to make a positive impact in the world.
Again, this doesn’t have to be some huge gesture. Right? But even the the smallest gesture at least to increased feelings of self worth and confidence which can help protect against negative mental health outcomes like depression and anxiety. Now finally, performing acts of kindness can also help reduce our stress. When we when we engage in kindness, it can shift our focus away from our own problems. And concerns and onto others. So this can help break our negative thought patterns and reduce our stress. Also, when we perform active kindness it releases to feel good hormones like oxytocin andorphins, which can counteract those negative effects of stress in the body and the mind that they might be experiencing at the time. One surprising finding about performing out of kindness is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be big or elaborate, a gesture to have a positive effect. Even the smallest acts of coin is can make a really, really big difference. In fact, Research has shown that performing multiple acts of kindness throughout the day can be more beneficial for mental health. Than doing one large act of kindness. So that’s interesting. Right? There was a book in twenty twenty released in the name of the bookies Griller Ultra as I’m maximizing the acts of kindness for well-being. I just think it’s a great name, gorilla, altruism. Not gorilla like like gorilla like, you know, gorilla warfare.
Emily Sheila is the writer. She’s a social psychologist. And she works at University of Virginia in their positive psychology center in in America. In the book, she discusses the concept of guerrilla altruism, which refers to intentionally seeking out performing acts of kindness in unexpected ways and places in order to maximize the positive impact on both the giver and the receiver. She talks about how performing acts of kindness not only benefit the recipient, but also have a positive impact on the person performing the act. She explains that kindness releases these neurotransmitters in the brain, like dopamine, serotonin, the ones we’ve talked about before, which promote feelings of happiness and well-being. And furthermore, performing acts of kindness can also increase the social connection as it fosters a sense of community and belonging which is the in the cycle then, the circle that brings back around to, you know, don’t mean release and happiness.
The book is awesome. It provides a comprehensive guide to incorporating acts of kindness into your daily life with the goal of maximizing their impact on well-being. She also includes heaps of practical tips and strategies on how to identify opportunities for kindness, how to tailor acts of kindness to individual preferences and strength it’s it’s kinda like a textbook for kindness. One of the surprising findings in the book is that the most effective acts of kindness are those that are unexpected or out of the book. Right? So she encourages readers to think creatively about how they can perform these acts of kindness like leaving a kind note. For a stranger, I’m not honestly paying for someone’s meal as you leave and they’re still eating.
She also emphasizes the importance of self care though, which is really important. Part of this when it comes to performing access of kindness, explaining that Practicing self compassion and setting realistic expectations for yourself is really crucial in order to to avoid burnout or exhaustion. You’ve gotta you gotta go into this with really, really seek expectations of what you what you’re going to get out of it basically. So that’s that’s a a good book. Something to something that I think is worth having to look at. So in conclusion, the performing acts of kindness can be a simple but effective way to boost our mental health by increasing feelings of social connection, boosting self esteem, reducing stress, AX of kindness can help protect against negative mental health outcomes and promote overall well-being and happiness. So the next time you’re feeling down, you know, consider doing something kind for somebody else. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It might just be the boost you need. So that’s it.
They are the nine simple things that you can do today. That will make you happier tomorrow. Number one, spend time in nature. Number two, practice gratitude, even single session gratitude. Number three, connect with someone. Number four, move your body in a new way. Listen to new type of music is number five. Number six, take a break from social media so important. Number seven, get creative. Number eight, learn something new. And number nine do a random act of kindness. They’re the nine things that I think if they’re very simple things that I think if we can incorporate goes into our day today, then it makes it gives us a chance to be happier tomorrow. I’m really stoked that we that but I’ve had your attention this long and I appreciate that. I really hope you have a happy day today and a happier day tomorrow. Thank you so much for listening.
If you’d like to leave a a comment or anything on either the website or the podcast or wherever you listening to this, That will be great. I’ll try to get back to all of them or review a five star review if you think it’s worth that. That really helps us too. So thanks so much for listening. If you have any questions or you have any suggested topics you want me to research the shit out of like I’ve done this week. Please just send it through and I’ll either as a voice message or just a text message or a message on the website. I’d love to hear from you and and and make this a podcast that, you know, you’re interested in by by giving me the content that you’re really interested in to research for you. I hope you’re having a great day wherever you are. I hope you have a great day tomorrow. Thanks so much for listening.
Hello. Thank you for listening to this episode of The reboot. You’ve been important. I really appreciate your support, and I’ve stoked to have this part of my awareness on here. If you like what I’m doing here, please think about the economy of giving me a five star view on whatever you are listening to. It really helps and I’ll be really great. And follow me, I am at Nick Babbage across all the socials, or you can visit my website at w w w dot nick babbage dot com. Send me a voice message or any questions you would like to answer, and you could be featured in an upcoming episode. This track is good person by the hot wings, incidental music also supplied by a sole pro music. And please remember, it’s okay to seek help and support. If anything I’ve talked about today, it has resonated with you or brought up any insolvency, please reach out to a mental, professional, or a trusted support system. If you’re in Australia, please call lifeline around thirteen eleven fourteen. You don’t have to go through it.